It’s Bananas

Purim was the other day. You often see it referred to as the Jewish Halloween or
the Jewish Mardi Gras. A festival like Chanukah, rather than a holy day such as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Purim is indeed a time for people to dress up and be merry.

Cover to Magilla Gorilla #1 © 1964 Hanna-Barbera Productions.

The original idea behind the costumes was to emulate characters from the Hebrew
Book of Esther, since it’s from those events that the festival arose, but as with Halloween — where outfits are no longer limited to imitations of spirits and demons — in most communities a wider net is cast. Our synagogue held an annual Purim Carnival for the kids, and one year I made a pretty decent Mork (as in “… from Ork”).

What does this have to do with comic books?

I can’t think of Purim without thinking of Magilla Gorilla. While it wasn’t a standout among Hanna-Barbera fare, you probably remember it if you grew up in the ’60s or ’70s watching Saturday-morning cartoons: The big ape — Magilla Gorilla, gorilla for sale — would languish in the pet-store window, get adopted, hijinks would ensue, and he’d end up back there by the end of the episode.

Anyway, The Book of Esther is also known as The Megillah. “Megillah” translates simply to “scroll”. You may have heard the phrase “the whole megillah” used to mean “the whole dad-gum story”. So I can’t think of Purim without thinking of Magilla Gorilla, and I can’t think of Magilla Gorilla without thinking of, you guessed it, a favorite old comic book.

Covers to DC Special #16 and Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas #1 © 1975, 1976 DC Comics.

DC Special #16 is an issue that I owned very early and loved to literal pieces, such
that its cover had escaped my memory entirely until now. For most of its run the series was all-reprint, each thick edition packed with themed stories from days past. The cover feature of #16 was Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas, offering up four gorillarific stories. A search online has revealed not only its cover but the existence of a later stand-alone Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas one-shot, which I look forward to tracking down.

More to come when the cable connection lets me load it…

Related: The ’Vision Thing Big Pink The Wide Worlds of Schwartz

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