Monkey Business: Karl Kesel on Marvel Apes

A comics interview article by: Dave Wallace

Following the success of Marvel Zombies and its sequel miniseries, Marvel announced at the New York Comic Con yesterday that Karl Kesel and artist Ramon Bachs are set to give the Marvel Universe their own uniquely simian spin in Marvel Apes. Comics Bulletin’s Dave Wallace spoke with Karl Kesel about the forthcoming series.

Dave Wallace: So, Marvel Apes - you're serious? How did this idea come about? If I remember rightly, the title of "Marvel Apes" was suggested by a fan at a convention, around the time that the Marvel Zombies craze was at its height. Was that the catalyst for the idea?

Karl Kesel: As I understand it, the idea was planted by a fan at some convention, grew in the fevered brain of Joe Quesada, transplanted over to editor Steve Wacker, who then... Um... Damn, I've run out of gardening metaphors. Steve called and asked if I wanted to write it. And for better or worse - only time will tell which - I said yes.

DW: Marvel Zombies launched out of the Marvel Zombie universe's initial appearance in Mark Millar's first arc of Ultimate Fantastic Four - but as far as I know, there isn't an established Marvel Ape Universe. Does this lack of any previous baggage make it easier to write the series, or is it intimidating to have to come up with a whole new concept, and ape versions of Marvel characters?

KK: I imagine it was no easier or harder to come up with the Marvel Monkeyverse as it was to create the Zombieverse. "Marvel heroes as zombies... I mean monkeys!" About that hard.

DW: Has it been fun to come up with the Ape character designs? Which characters lend themselves best to the concept?

KK: It looks like Ramon is having a blast twisting the look of Marvel characters to fit monkeys and apes - his Iron Ape is just too cool, trust me. From a writing standpoint, certain names lend themselves to the monkeyverse more
easily than others. For instance: Spider-Monkey is just too perfect not to use. And, personally, I got a kick out of Iron Paw (who can make his paw like unto a thing of iron!). Captain America, on the other hand, is still called Captain America. Not Captain APE-merica. No need to insult him. Believe me, you don't WANT to insult him...

DW: What are the chances of seeing an appearance from the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes?

KK: There are just some things we are not going to reveal - not until the first page of the first issue.

DW: Marvel Zombies got a lot of mileage out of its dark tone and sick humour - what kind of tone can we expect from Marvel Apes?

KK: By its very nature, MARVEL APES has its tongue firmly in cheek. At the same time, this isn't a human civilization we're dealing with. Monkhattan is quite literally an urban jungle‹ with all that that implies.

DW: How long before we get to see a character say "Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!" (or alternatively, "They blew it up!")...?

KK: You mean from "Planet of the Apes"? Huh. A planet... of apes. Just like in this mini-series. Wow. I never made that connection before. Don't know how I missed it...

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