Angel and the Ape #1, Nov-Dec 1968

Sam Simeon goes all George Harrison with his sitar solo, while Angel go-go dances in the background on this groovy Bob Oksner cover.

“The Case of the Going, Going , Gone Go Go Girls!”

Angel is posing for Sam, who is as ever on a tight comics deadline, when a couple of repo men show up and begin removing the office furniture. It seems the rent was due over a month ago! In an unlikely misunderstanding, Angel finds herself carted off by the men as she stands posed statue-like.

Sam reacts angrily, but becomes strangely hypnotized by a vacant-looking go-go dancer, and Angel sends him away. Concerned at their lack of money, Angel applies for a dancing gig at the local go-go club. It seems that the position is vacant because recently a lot of dancers have been mysteriously disappearing. The creepy owner is taken with her beauty and eagerly snaps her up. When word of the gorgeous new arrival spreads around town,  dozens of men are soon to be found beating down the door to the club.

Meanwhile, Sam is at home playing his sitar. He receives a telegram from Stan Bragg, and quickly makes his way to Brain Pix Comicals. There, Bragg belittles the artist, scrawls all over the drawings, and rewrites the credits to wildly exaggerate his own contribution. Hmmm…

All over town cute, yet vacant-eyed, go-go girls are relieving people of money. At a nearby college laboratory, the mad Professor Klutz has invented a mind-stealing machine. A trapdoor beneath the go-go club provides the machine with victims — hence the go-go crime spree.

Sam ends up at the go-go club to watch Angel perform. While taking a break Angel is kidnapped by Klutz, and Sam goes in hot pursuit. Things don’t go as planned, however, and Sam ends up unconscious in the gorilla cage at the zoo. There he gets a lot of unwanted attention from the female — lipstick wearing! — gorillas, who are fairly besotted by this hunky specimen of gorillahood.

Klutz attempts to use his machine to brainwash Angel, but Sam bursts in in the nick of time. A dozen go-go dancers attack Sam, but he manages to force Klutz to disable the machine, and the girls come out of their trance. Klutz is carted off by the police, and Angel picks up the reward money — and so is able to pay her rent.

All’s well that ends well… except, waiting at home for the unsuspecting Sam is a gaggle of love-struck lady gorillas!

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The ongoing Angel and the Ape series launches in fine style with this inaugural issue. The script writer is something of a mystery, but the lovely art is by Bob Oksner, inked by Henri Scarpelli. Scarpelli tended to specialize in teen-humour strips, so his fluid style suits the strip well.

There are lots of knowing nods to late-60s life, though you get the distinct impression that the writer was probably of the previous generation — as most of the writers then were, of course. All the go-go dancers wear teeny-tiny mini skirts made of the same metal circle later found on Red Sonja’s “costume”. As to whether go-go girls actually wore such garb circa 1968, I have no idea.

Most interesting of all, from a comics historian perspective, is, once again, the depiction of Brain Pix’s editorial head-honcho Stan Bragg. Few punches pulled, it’s scathing satire, with the Stan Lee analogue accused of being an egotist who claims much undeserved credit, going so far as to replace every other creator’s name with pun-some versions of his own. Its interesting to think that this was in 1968, a time when most fans would have been unaware of the more controversial aspects of the credit issue — but clearly within the industry itself, questions were being raised.

Image ©2010 DC Comics