By Spencer Lloyd Peet
After the publication of his first book Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, author Rich Handley triumphantly follows up on its success with From Aldo To Zira: Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes – a 400-page encyclopaedia listing every character, creature, device, location, weapon and much, much more from the Apes universe which consist of the initial five films, the Tim Burton remake, the Live-Action and animation series, a variety of comic books, and a whole host of other adaptations and spin-offs. With a staggering 3,200 entries, no stone or scroll is left unturned. Even diehard fans will be amazed by some of them; Baboonjas, the psychic ninja cult from Ape City (a 4-issue comic miniseries published by Malibu Comics in 1990), and Deadeye, a rare scared-face, cigar-chomping gorilla bounty hunter resin “garage kit” are two examples.
Fortunately, Handley has managed to reference Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, the first of a soon-to-be-released series of Apes novels from BLAM! Ventures, which he edited for author Andrew E.C. Gaska. What’s more Lexicon, published by Hasslein Books, contains names and designations from rejected scripts and storylines such as those written by Twilight Zone creator and co-author of the original Planet of the Apes screenplay, Rod Serling, and comic book writer Ty Templeton. Each entry includes a description, an abbreviation, a symbol and suffix which can be easily identified by using a chart situated at the beginning of the book. All the categories have been compiled and indexed alphabetically at the back of the book for easy use.
This comprehensive reference guide is illustrated throughout with black and white photographs and stunning full-page chapter illustrations drawn by gifted artist, Patricio Carbaja (check out the excellent cover showing Dr. Zauis); credit to Paul Giachetti too for the outstanding overall design and layout. It also has a foreword by film and television historian John Kenneth Muir, the award-winning author of more than twenty books.
With the Apes prequel, Caesar: Rise of the Apes due to hit cinema screens in November this year, the timing of the publication of Lexicon is very apt, although, for obvious reasons, no entries from the film are included. Looks like nothing can keep those “damned dirty apes” down.
Burnt out from the extensive work he did compiling Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, Handley has dusted off the ash to produce an equally essential piece of Apes literature. It sure is a mighty piece of work that every Ape fan should have, and makes an excellent companion to the aforementioned book. If the only character name you know from the Apes mythos is Galen, then you too need this book. Handley’s extensive research and tenacious work has paid off big time and makes for compulsive reading. But be warned: once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!
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