This is a pretty great concept for a short story collection: have one artist do a cover, then tell seven other people to write an explanation for what’s going on in the image. That’s exactly what happened with the 81st issue of the comics anthology magazine Eerie in late 1976, and the cover in question is this piece by Frank Franzetta:
The back cover is an ad for a mail-in of a very early version of the 1976 King Kong poster (the one on the cover of Famous Monsters #125), and that’s about the extent of the studio endorsement this issue had. The stories within range from out-and-out Kong spoofs to being only tangentially related:
- “Goodbye, Bambi Boone” – an actress who’s accidentally enlarged by experimental breast implants acts in a King Kong parody, to tragic ends.
- “Taking of Queen Bovine” – a space secret agent goes to a planet of monkey people, having a showdown at a miniature exhibition. It’s the story the least tied to the cover, and feels like part of some other narrative.
- “Bride of Congo” – an Ann Darrow expy (all the names have been changed, my favorite is “Noggin Island”) mourns the death of “Congo”, who she secretly did love and was only playing hard to get. A mad scientist attempts to revive the ape with a transfusion of her blood, only to have a little flow back and cause her to grow giant. It’s the funniest of the stories.
- “You’re a Big Girl Now” – by far the darkest of the stories, about a girl who won’t stop growing, and the strain it puts on her family. This chapter is in full color, and it looks great.
- “Star Child” – Another space yarn, this time about a genetically-engineered giantess who’s sent to a colony planet to build a city there. She eventually goes native and fights the spaceship that followed her. This one did surprise me a little, and its placement in the anthology overall is a nice palette cleanser after the former story.
- “The Giant Ape Suit” – In this version, Kong’s rampage had all been a hoax perpetuated by a man in a giant gorilla mech. A couple enterprising gangsters try to steal the suit, only to find the quack inventor had also made a suit in the fashion of the Ann character. The two suits wind up battling across New York.
- “Golden Girl” – Yet another space tale, this one with a woman leading a group of explorers to a miniature 1930s New York, constructed by the aliens viewing the Earth from light years away.
All of the stories hold up pretty well, which is rare in an anthology where sometimes one chapter feels like a chore to get to another one. The issue is a pretty fun creative experiment, and I’d be delighted though quite surprised to see something like it hitting today (especially with that cover!). There was something magical about the environment of that 1976 King Kong movie that got everyone trying to throw in their take on it, and seven stories of rampaging, naked blondes has to be one of the most far out.