Talk about a high concept.
"Sky Ape" has one of the highest:
"Millionaire gorilla with a jetpack doling out the ass-kickings like you dream about," series co-writer Tim McCarney told CBR News on Friday.
"It's interesting, because the original story, it came out in 1997. Slave Labor Graphics put out the first four issues. What I think attracted Dan Vado to it was he said 'hey, you gotta like monkeys.'
"Some people compare it to Grant Morrison['s work]. I'm sure if Grant Morrison knew we existed would say 'don't you dare compare that to me!'"
This February, the jetpack-wearing gorilla returns in "All the Heroes," the second Sky Ape project from AiT/Planet Lar. The seeds of the publishing collaboration go back to the very first issue of the original series. The day the issue hit the stands, the creators received an e-mail from not-yet-a-comics-publisher Larry Young.
"It went on for about five pages, extolling the virtues of this book."
When Young later started AiT/Planet Lar, he gave the creators a call.
"He took a book that was for all intents and purposes dead -- and some people would like to see it that way -- and he introduced it to a whole new audience."
Given the non-linear storytelling of the original series, and the somewhat askew worldview (the story begins with Sky Ape's dead and then goes into flashbacks from there), the new graphic novel has a surprisingly straight forward superhero comic premise:
"Basically what it is is an evil genius busts loose," McCarney said. "A character named Mister Doctor Powerful organizes this prison break ... villains of various classes and grades are released. Sky Ape realizes the only way to get the villains back to where they belong is to enlist ALL the heroes."
The twist is that Sky Ape isn't exactly discriminating when it comes to rounding up any and all available superheroes. Heroes that would be lucky to be third-stringers are called up, including Count Unconscious, The Swimsuit Bastard and pop duo Hall and Oates.
"There's no shortage of strange shit, I should say."
1980s Top 40 star sightings aside, at least one more familiar name will be making an appearance:
"We're able to pull off a neat cameo ... We love 'Battle Pope,' and they came up to us [at Comic-Con International in 2001] and it was sort of a mutual admiration society. ... They came back with a cool couple of pages that will be in there."
Fans of the original Sky Ape series will be happy to hear that "All the Heroes" is less linear than last year's "Waiting for Crime," which featured an actual beginning, middle and end.
"We've made a concerted effort to out-weird ourselves with this one."
After "All the Heroes," the various Sky Ape collaborators (including co-writer Mike Russo and artist Richard Jenkins) will be going their own way for a while. Co-writer Phil Amara will be working on a new "Neverman" series (ironically begun after "All the Heroes," but narrowly beating it to the stands), while the Sky Ape Web site will be expanding, including adding a short film called "Lincoln's Here," about Abraham Lincoln moving in with a suburban family.
But McCarney says there's at least one more Sky Ape story coming some day, although its title, "Last Call," leaves no question that the story is intended to be the final one. First, however, there is talk a full "Sky Ape/Battle Pope" crossover project sometime before that.
And if the team runs out of comic work, they have a Plan B.
"There's always the porn business!"