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Presenting Pat Carbajal's Cover for Alan J. Porter's James Bond Lexicon

Posted by Rich Handley

January 11, 2012

Hasslein Books

Illustrator Pat Carbahal wowed Planet of the Apes fans in 2008 with his cover art for Hasslein Books' , and again in 2010, with his cover and interior art for .

Now, Pat is back with the first of a whole new batch of illustrations for Hasslein Books: the cover to Alan J. Porter's The James Bond Lexicon: The Unauthorized Guide to the World of 007 in Movies, Novels and Comics, illustrated by Pat and designed by Paul C. Giachetti.

Slated for publication in late 2012 or early 2013, Alan's Bond lexicon will be the definitive breakdwn of characters, vehicles, gadgets, locales and more from fifty years' of 007 on film and in print. We at Hasslein Books are proud to have Alan Porter on our team, and are excited at the prospect of adding The James Bond Lexicon to our growing lineup of genre-related reference books.

You can read Alan's bio here. And be sure to check out Alan's Tumblr blog to follow the progress on this upcoming title.

Happy Holidays From Hasslein Books: A Very Carbajal Christmas

Posted by Rich Handley

January 1, 2012

Illustrator Pat Carbajal, the genius behind Hasslein Books' cover and interior artwork, has produced his second annual Christmas card for the Hasslein team, following last year's card. Thanks, Pat—and Happy Holidays to all of our readers!

BTTF.com's Stephen Clark to Write Foreword to Back to the Future Lexicon

Posted by Rich Handley

December 6, 2012

Stephen Clark, well known to Back to the Future fans as the creative force behind , the official Back to the Future Web site, has agreed to write the foreword to A Matter of Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Lexicon, due out in 2012. This will be Rich Handley's third book for Hasslein Books, following Timeline of the Planet of the Apes and Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes.

A Matter of Time will kick off Hasslein Books' next batch of unauthorized science fiction reference books, along with Alan J. Porter's The James Bond Lexicon: The Unauthorized Guide to the World of 007 in Movies, Novels and Comics, Greg Mitchell's Back in Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Chronology, Paul Giachetti's Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Unauthorized Red Dwarf Encyclopedia and other titles. (Visit Hassein Books to learn more about upcoming projects.)

Artist Pat Carbajal Displays His Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes Artwork

Posted by Rich Handley

February 18, 2011

Artist Pat Carbajal, whose breathtaking sketches and paintings adorn Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia, has posted photos on showing the original artwork he produced for the book, alongside the final product. (Pat also produced the cover for Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, which is just as fantastic.

Paul and I are extremely proud to have Pat's art in our books, and when you see his original work, it's not hard to figure out why. The man has talent. And that's why we've already got him working on preliminary artwork for our next two books, about the Back to the Future films, as well as additional projects down the road that it's too early to mention. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

But why take my word for it? Head on over to Pat's blog and see for yourself—and while you're there, make sure to check out his other artwork. You'll be happy you did.

Pat is a truly phenomenal illustrator, and I would highly recommend him to anyone looking to hire an artist for their projects. I have yet to see anything he's done that has been anything but amazing. No matter who or what he draws, the likeness is perfect.

Color me a great fan.

A Planet of the Apes Postcard for Swamp Thing's Stephen R. Bissette

Posted by Rich Handley

January 20, 2011

Gushing-fan moment... with me as the gushing fan.

Stephen R. Bissette, an icon among comic-book icons, asked me to send him a signed, personalized postcard that he could put in his copy of Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes. For those who don't get the impact of that statement, Bissette was Alan Moore's artist during his tenure on Swamp Thing, and is one of my all-time favorite artists—for me, a die-hard Swamp Thing fan (click here if you don't believe me), this is the equivalent of George Lucas asking for my autograph.

Therefore, I made the graphic to the right from an old Planet of the Apes 45 record and glued it to a comic backing board, in order to create a custom-made postcard. I then wrote the following in the white circle in the middle, for him to place inside the book:

"Steve, The classics, like Swamp Thing, Planet of the Apes, and 45 RPM records, never get old! Thank you for countless hours of reading bliss. Sincerely, Rich Handley"

Dorky? Yes. Self-congratulatory? Without question. But that's just fine with me. Steve freakin' Bissette asked for my autopgraph, baby.

TwoMorrows Publishing to Provide Planet of the Apes Coverage in Back Issue #49

Posted by Rich Handley

January 28, 2011

Michael Eury, the editor of Back Issue magazine for TwoMorrows Publishing, is preparing something special for Planet of the Apes fans in July 2011: an issue partially devoted to the Apes franchise. Eury says the POTA coverage will be based on the Planet of the Apes chapter of his book, Comics Gone Ape! (TwoMorrows Publishing, April 2007), and incorporates many quotes from comics legend Doug Moench regarding his work on Marvel Comics' popular POTA magazine of the 1970s.

Here's a description of the issue's contents, courtesy of Eury:

"TwoMorrows Publishing's Back Issue magazine #49 features a '1970s Time Capsule' spotlight: Relevance in comics, Planet of the Apes in comics, DC Salutes the Bicentennial, Richard Dragon—Kung-Fu Fighter, FOOM and Amazing World of DC Comics, groundbreaking new formats, Fireside Books' reprints, Fast Willie Jackson, Marvel Comics calendars, Captain Sticky, and a countdown of the Bronze Age's biggest events. With art by and/or commentary from Neal Adams, Frank, Brunner, John Buscema, Dick Giordano, Bob Larkin, Paul Levitz, Elliot S! Maggin, Doug Moench, Denny O'Neill, Mike Ploog and more. Cover—featuring '70s superstar Deathlok the Demolisher—by Rich Buckler and John Beatty! Edited by Michael Eury. 84 pages, $7.95, with 16-page color section. Order online at twomorrows.com."

Included in the article will be information about Hasslein Books' Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, as well as BLAM! Ventures' upcoming POTA novels, beginning with Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, due out in late 2011 or early 2012. Stay tuned for more information.

A Planet of the Apes Chronology: It's About Time

Feb. 21, 2009

Hasslein Books

Today, we have guest poster Rich Handley, author of Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology. The book uses information from all of the various Apes incarnations to build a history of the apes as a dominant force on the Earth. Incredibly detailed, it's a book every Apes fan needs to own.—CYNTHIA

When I first announced the release of Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, reactions varied greatly, from "That's so cool—I love Planet of the Apes!" to "Really? Oh, I thought Planet of the Apes was dead."

Much as I hate to admit it, both are valid responses. Despite its timelessness, at age 40, Planet of the Apes is far less prevalent in the public eye than the "Four Stars"—Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Battlestar Galactica. It's common to find a wide variety of magazines, books, comics and other publications about those other franchises on store shelves. But Planet of the Apes? Sadly, such is not the case, and rarely ever has been.

However, it should be.

Few films can boast as stellar a cast, as intriguing a premise, as literate and relevant a screenplay, and as iconic and shocking an ending, as Planet of the Apes. And with an incessant stream of unwatchable sequels, prequels and remakes being pumped out every year, few franchises have produced follow-up films as entertaining and engaging as those of the Apes series. If any universe deserves more appreciation and bolstering than it has historically received, it would be Planet of the Apes.

My fascination with Planet of the Apes began in 1977. Like many children in New York, I lived for The 4:30 Movie, a daily film showcase airing on ABC's local Channel 7 affiliate. The films were edited, and I watched them on a small black-and-white set with a 13-channel dial, a wire antenna and a second dial for UHF. But that didn't matter—The 4:30 Movie introduced me to such classics as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage, Adam West's Batman, The Pink Panther, Westworld, The Land That Time Forgot, Godzilla, Ben-Hur, The Omega Man and Soylent Green. (Apparently, Channel 7 had a Charlton Heston fixation—and who can blame them?)

But my most vivid memories of The 4:30 Movie are of "Planet of the Apes Week." Between 1977 and 1981 (when ABC replaced The 4:30 Movie with People's Court), Channel 7 aired the first four Apes films—three if an ABC After School Special ran on Wednesday—as an annual marathon. (The fifth film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, aired during "Sci-Fi Week" since the first was split into two parts, shown on Monday and Tuesday.) This was before VHS, DVD, DVR and other home-viewing options, so being able to see the Apes films, long after they'd left theaters, was a big deal.

In the three decades since The 4:30 Movie and its glorious theme weeks went off the air, I devoured the TV series, then the cartoons, and—ironically, not until I was an adult—the comics. (Yes, there were Planet of the Apes comics—more than a hundred, in fact, from Gold Key, Marvel, Malibu, Dark Horse and Mr. Comics, along with others published only in Britain and Argentina.) That might surprise casual fans—the person who deflated my sails, for instance, by pronouncing the death of a mythos about which I'd just written a book—for whom Apes is merely a couple of quaint films from the 1960s.

Strangely, however, there are surprisingly few Apes-related reference books. We've seen novelizations of the films, TV series and cartoons, as well several original novels based on Tim Burton's 2001 remake, and there have also been a handful of unlicensed volumes about the franchise's history. But that's about it. Fans of the "Four Stars" could fill a room or three—and many have—with the countless books chronicling their favorite universes. But for the Planet of the Apes devotee, a shelf or two suffices to house everything ever published over the past four decades.

Still, a lot of back-story is contained within those ancillary tales: We've seen glimpses of simian savior Caesar's childhood as a circus performer, forced to hide his sentience…met George Taylor's wife and daughters, abandoned when he ventured into space…learned the origins of the Alpha Omega Bomb, and Governor Breck's rise to power…witnessed as Caesar's grandson, Alexander, continued his revered ancestor's legacy…gained insight into Dr. Zaius' psyche by reading about his childhood, and his dreams…savored nuggets of insight into the parents of Zira and Cornelius…learned the fates of TV astronauts Alan Virdon and Pete Burke…viewed events leading up to the nuclear war that devastated human civilization…explored a plethora of ape, human and mutant cultures that arose in the wake of that war…and even discovered how the Statue of Liberty ended up in pieces.

With all of that in mind, I set out to make Timeline of the Planet of the Apes as complete as possible, in order to provide a bible of sorts for Apes fans. Those unaware of the comics and novels, who have never watched the TV series or cartoons, who eschewed Burton's remake (understandably so), might be unaware of just how richly woven a tapestry exists outside the classic five films.

As commentaries on religion, science, paranoia, race hatred and the human condition, the Planet of the Apes films are just as relevant today as they were when I watched them on The 4:30 Movie—even more so, given all that has transpired in recent years. But they're just the beginning of the story. The brilliant artwork and psychedelic storytelling of the Marvel line…the light-hearted humor of the Malibu run…the dark, gritty examination of Caesar and the war, in the Revolution on the Planet of the Apes miniseries…the detailed backgrounds given for Taylor's crew in the Blu-Ray set…and, yes, even the unique takes on the mythos offered in Burton's remake, and in the animated series…have all enriched the world of Planet of the Apes, far beyond what was shown on film.

Planet of the Apes may not be in the same category as the "Four Stars" in terms of sheer volume of related publications—but it's a four-star saga all its own that deserves the same treatment. Two thousand years pass between Taylor's era and that of the first film, and yet, even with all that has been published—more than enough to fill a 320-page timeline book—the majority of that history remains unrecorded.

For whatever reason, Fox has largely neglected the Planet of the Apes fan base. If Scott Frank's upcoming reboot, Caesar, is more successful than its disappointing 2001 predecessor, we could finally begin to see new Apes-related titles hitting stores. But in the meantime, perhaps my timeline book can help satisfy those hungering for more.

BOOK REVIEW: Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology

Monday, Jan. 26, 2009

Hasslein Books

Before Blu-Ray or HD, before DVD, before VHS, before—even—fandom as mainstream and acknowledged pop-culture phenomenon, the five-film cycle of Planet of the Apes film accomplished something utterly remarkable.

Today, following The Matrix (1999) and its sequels, not to mention Star Wars (1977) and its prequels/sequels, we might be tempted diminish that accomplishment or take it for granted.

But we shouldn't.

The Apes films—commencing in the late 1960s—forged a five movement saga, an interrelated epic sequence of films that, if watched "as a piece," formed a whole universe; a tale that loops around itself, connects, and turns beginning into end; end into new beginning.

The substance of this saga, of this unique "loop," stems from a concept called—in the terminology of the films themselves—a "Hasslein Curve," a fictional (so far...) theory about a spacecraft approaching light speed and the ensuing time dilation.

This theory permits a space craft (or crafts...) from the year 1972 to voyage to Earth in the year 3979 AD (or 3955). Said curve also permits the same ship—this time populated by talking apes—to make the reverse trip.

In Planet of the Apes then, a trip to the future...creates the past. And a trip to the past...makes the future. And in between those book-end space/time journeys is a pitched battle for dominion on Earth. A war for supremacy between man, simian and mutant.

Directed by Franklin Schaffner, Planet of the Apes (1968) as a standalone is my candidate for best science fiction film of all time (followed closely by 2001: A Space Odyssey). But taken together with its four sequels, Apes represents something perhaps even a greater: a complete "alternate" history/perspective of man's future. Some of the sequels are authentically great (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes), some are good enough to pass muster (Escape from the Planet of the Apes), some are flawed but remain intriguing (Beneath and Battle...). Yet each installment is necessary viewing in any attempt to understand the larger cycle. Each entry is more than the sum of its parts.

So here comes intrepid author Rich Handley, a skillful writer who first discovered the Apes movies as I did in my youth: on The 4:30 Movie, Channel 7, out of NYC in the mid 1970s. You can tell from a reading of Handley's foreword and introduction that the detailed alternate future history presented by the Apes franchise has consumed him since he first starting watching the movies.

I get it.

The gaps. The inconsistencies. The brilliant connections. The subtle reflections. The unique repetitions. Handley has worked out this obsession (an obsession, I share...) in his exhaustive new book, Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: a meticulous chronology of all the events featured in the Apes franchise.

And Handley hasn't limited himself to the films, either. On the contrary, the author has incorporated a wide array of filmic and literary sources and compiled all of them into one, amazing, gigantor timeline. You'll find here references to the movies, the live action series, the cartoon series, and comic stories both published and unpublished.

Even the derided Tim Burton re-imagination of 2001 is included. And Handley accounts for everything, down to the minutest detail, including the invention of the Internet and the ascent of bloggers in the early 1990s of the Apes universe. He doesn't miss a fact, a nuance, a connection, or even an inconsistency. When an inconsistency does arise (and there are plenty in the Apes universe), Handley does a good job of reconciling facts as he can, and explaining why he has selected the answer he has.

Now, some fans may quibble with just how (remarkably...) inclusive Handley's timeline is. The Burton film's events stick out like a sore thumb, because Mark Wahlberg's astronaut, Leo, would have had to grow up after a nuclear war and also following the ape rebellion, and that doesn't smell very plausible to me (which Handley himself, points out.)

But the principle of inclusion also means we get the benefit of Marvel's brilliant comic series, "Terror on the Planet of the Apes," so there's little cause for complaint. I grew up on those beloved Marvel comics, and the adventures of Jason, Alexander and Brutus (and the Gorilloids...) are as "real" to me as anything in the films or various TV series.

Lavishly illustrated with literally hundreds of instances of poster art, promotional materials and comic-book covers (not to mention DVD and VHS box art), Timeline of the Planet of the Apes is 300-pages long (small-type) and packed from cover-to-cover with fascinating data—concrete and insightfully extrapolated—on the world of the apes. The chronology itself is divided into twelve sub-headings. First is Pre-History of the Apes (Before 1972), which starts at One Billion BC (!) and then takes the reader from the origin of Genesis (1445 BC) to Darwin's writings (Origin of the Species and The Descent of Man in 1859 and 1871, respectively).

Part 2: "Genesis of the Lawgiver" (1972 - 1973) focuses on the launch of Taylor's (Charlton Heston) mission aboard ANSA spaceship Liberty 1, the time-dilation theories of scientist Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden), and the return in November 1972 of Taylor's spaceship—back from the future—with three intelligent apes in the cockpit (Zira, Cornelius and Dr. Milo). Given everything that occurs in this span, the year from 1972-1973 (in this universe anyway...) may prove the most important—and catastrophic—in the long life of Planet Earth. The destinies of two races (man and ape) are decided right here.

Part 3: "Under Ape Management" (1974 - 1990) reveals a deadly plague's ascent in February of 1983, one that devastates Earth by killing all cats and dogs. A Pet Memorial is built, and soon mankind—missing his furry friends—begins to take apes as household pets. Before long, the apes become servants. Then, finally, slaves. In this chapter, Handley points out the interesting theory that the deadly plague was brought back by Zira and Cornelius a decade earlier...

Part 4: "The Beast, Man (1991-1992) details the Ape Revolution and the rise of Caesar, ape revolutionary.

On and on this continues, down the years, right up through Part 10: "The Beginning of the End" (3087 to 3977), which culminates with Taylor's detonation of the Alpha-Omega Bomb in ruined NYC, and the ensuing destruction of the Earth. Then, finally, there's Part 11: "Stranger on a Strange World" (After 3979), which is the chapter where most of the Burton-oriented material lands. What I found fascinating here was that some Apes authors (in comics and books) found a way to meaningfully (and relatively believably...) incorporate Thade and his universe into the canon universe of the earlier Apes productions. It never happened, but it could have happened. And somehow, that makes me appreciate Burton's film just a little bit more. Not much, but a bit. One of the things I so adamantly disliked about the Wahlberg movie was that it basically discarded the entire, interconnected universe of the original films for a standalone, relatively shallow separate universe. There was so much hubris in that decision to "reboot" a universe that was so beloved by so many.

Nothing is glossed over here. No fact is forgotten. Instead, through his exemplary attention to detail, Handley exposes the intriguing cleverness of the Apes narrative, as well as the subtleties of some inter-movie connections that you may have missed, or failed to examine closely.

Consider, for example, that the Planet of the Apes films begin with a chronometer registering the date of March 23, 2673 A.D. That chronometer is aboard Liberty 1, Taylor's spaceship. On that day, Taylor records a log entry about mankind. He wonders if man still makes war, still kills his brother for his brother's land. He wonders if man will ever change. He wonders if there's something better than man "out there."

Meanwhile, Battle for the Planet of the Apes—the last film in the cycle—ends on Earth in the year 2670 AD. This is approximately the same time Taylor is recording his thoughts. On Earth, ape and man are building the very future, Taylor is bound to discover, though here they have forged a tender, momentary peace. So Taylor is asking a question at the beginning of the film cycle as...ape and man live the answer at the end of the film cycle. So the Apes movies begin and end at almost exactly the same time period (2670 - 2673). Even though that beginning and end actually come five movies apart.

Timeline of the Planet of the Apes is an involving read. It's a labor of love and ultimately as involving and thought-provoking as the movies themselves. It's a perfect companion if you seek "the bigger picture" and the sweeping context of history in this bizarre, oft-revisited alternate world.

BOOK REVIEW: Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology

If you're anything like us, you have a dickens of a time keeping the chronological events in the Planet of the Apes movies, TV shows, novels, comics and cartoons straight.

Fortunately for us, author Rich Handley, a human who seemingly has all the endless reaches of time and space on his hands, has assimilated eveny event, ape and human, that ever appeared in the Apes universe, and has painstakingly organized them in this handsome trade paperback with a knockout cover illustration by Pat Carbajal.

RATING: 89/100

VERDICT: If Handley can make the 2001 remake make sense, he deserves an Ape Nobel.

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Please Enjoy This Christmas Card From Lexiconof the Planet of the Apes Artist Pat Carbajal—We Sure Did!

Our friend Pat Carbajal—whose breathtaking works have adorned both Hasslein Books publications to date, and is also featured in our header banner, above—sent along this excellent Christmas card, proving that even when he's just knocking off a quick sketch of a grinning ape in a Santa hat, he's still one of the most talented artists in the industry—and also proving, yet again, why we're so excited to have his sketches and paintings included in our books. Thanks, Pat! To view more of Pat's incredible artwork, visit his blog or order your copy of Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes today. Pat contributed more than 25 sketches to that book, and they're simply beautiful. There's a reason Pat's work is so highly sought, and the lexicon perfectly illustrates (excuse the pun) why that's so.

TwoMorrows Publishing to Provide Planet of the Apes Coverage in Back Issue #49

Posted by Rich Handley

Jan. 28, 2011

Michael Eury, the editor of Back Issue magazine for TwoMorrows Publishing, is preparing something special for Planet of the Apes fans in July 2011: an issue partially devoted to the Apes franchise. Eury says the POTA coverage will be based on the Planet of the Apes chapter of his book, Comics Gone Ape! (TwoMorrows Publishing, April 2007), and incorporates many quotes from comics legend Doug Moench regarding his work on Marvel Comics' popular POTA magazine of the 1970s.

Here's a description of the issue's contents, courtesy of Eury:

"TwoMorrows Publishing's Back Issue magazine #49 features a '1970s Time Capsule' spotlight: Relevance in comics, Planet of the Apes in comics, DC Salutes the Bicentennial, Richard Dragon—Kung-Fu Fighter, FOOM and Amazing World of DC Comics, groundbreaking new formats, Fireside Books' reprints, Fast Willie Jackson, Marvel Comics calendars, Captain Sticky, and a countdown of the Bronze Age's biggest events. With art by and/or commentary from Neal Adams, Frank, Brunner, John Buscema, Dick Giordano, Bob Larkin, Paul Levitz, Elliot S! Maggin, Doug Moench, Denny O'Neill, Mike Ploog and more. Cover—featuring '70s superstar Deathlok the Demolisher—by Rich Buckler and John Beatty! Edited by Michael Eury. 84 pages, $7.95, with 16-page color section. Order online at twomorrows.com."

Included in the article will be information about Hasslein Books' Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, as well as BLAM! Ventures' upcoming POTA novels, beginning with Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, due out in late 2011 or early 2012. Stay tuned for more information.

Exclusive Interview: Author Daryl Gregory Discusses BOOM! Studios' Planet of the Apes Plans

Posted by Rich Handley

Mar. 30, 2011

Ever since news first surfaced regarding BOOM! Studios' Planet of the Apes comic-book line, fans have wondered what it would be about, in which era it would be set, which incarnations of Planet of the Apes (the classic films, the TV series, Tim Burton's remake, Rise of the Apes, etc.) it would involve, and so forth. Precious little information could be gleaned, however, other than that the title—which follows in the footsteps of previous POTA efforts by Marvel, Malibu's Adventure imprint, Dark Horse and Mr. Comics—would be written by novelist Daryl Gregory (author of The Devil's Alphabet and Pandemonium) and illustrated by Carlos Magno, with covers by Karl Richardson and Chad Hardin. Now, fans can get a taste of what to expect when the first issue hits stores in April. In this exclusive interview, Gregory reveals details about his plans for the series.

Click on the images at right to view larger versions.

HASSLEIN BOOKS: What can you tell us about BOOM!'s new Planet of the Apes comic series? Will it be an ongoing monthly or a miniseries—and if it's an ongoing run, will you just write the opening arc, or will you remain with the title beyond that initial storyline?

DARYL GREGORY: This is an ongoing series. I've planned out a year of stories, and I'll happily keep writing as long as BOOM! (and the fans) will let me.

HASSLEIN: How did you become involved with this series? Did you approach BOOM!, or did the company initiate contact? And did BOOM! have a specific story in mind, or were you allowed to conceive and develop the full storyline yourself?

Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes

GREGORY: Last year, I started scripting Dracula: Company of Monsters for BOOM!, with a story by Kurt Busiek. I'm still writing it, and it's been a fantastic first experience in comics. Then one day, Matt Gagnon, BOOM!'s editor-in-chief, called me and said they were going to do a new book on Planet of the Apes, and was I interested in doing that, too?

Long story short, I was extremely interested. I'd been a fan of the movies since I was a kid. And then Matt told me we could use anything in the classic mythology, and set the story at any time period. By the next day, I had an outline to him.

We have a story that has an epic sweep to it. A large cast of characters, a sprawling city, war, politics, murder, philosophy, economics, destiny... and, of course, apes on horseback, beating the hell out of humans.

HASSLEIN: In addition to your background as a novelist, you've also been a code writer, a high school English teacher and a technical writer. Interestingly, I've been a high school English teacher as well, and like you, a significant portion of my writing has been technical in nature. I wonder what that says about Planet of the Apes writers, given our similar backgrounds...

GREGORY: I think it says that we'd rather be writing Planet of the Apes stories. But who wouldn't? Is there anything more fun?

HASSLEIN: Nope!

GREGORY: I'm still brand new to comics, so I consider myself a science fiction writer who's stumbled into a terrific side job. I've been a fan of comics since I could read, and it's been a thrill to learn how to tell stories in this medium.

HASSLEIN: The unexpected announcement of this new comic a mere three months before its release, and half a year before the release of Rise of the Apes, took POTA fans by surprise. How long has this series been in development, and how did it manage to remain under the radar, given the renewed attention POTA has received of late thanks to the upcoming film?

GREGORY: I'm not sure how long BOOM! has been talking to Fox, but Matt called me sometime in November. I suppose it remained under the radar because none of us blogged about it.

HASSLEIN: What will the title of your opening story arc be? What can you reveal about that arc in terms of story details without BOOM! banishing you to the Forbidden Zone? In what era does your story take place, how long before or after Battle for the Planet of the Apes is the comic set, and what is the state of humanity at this point, societally and developmentally?

GREGORY: The first arc is called "The Long War." It's set in 2680 A.D., 600 years after the events in the last movie, but before Taylor arrives in 3954. It's a few years after the Lawgiver's coda in Battle, where he talks to the children about living in an age of peace and harmony between humans and apes. [ED. NOTE: The coda in question took place in 2670, setting this series a decade after the film's Lawgiver scenes.] But when has anyone, anywhere, lived in an age of peace and harmony?

The species have been living side by side since the nuclear war 600 years earlier. The ape-human civilization, after many setbacks, is finally back to steam-age technology. There are factories, airships and steamboats, and the possibility to do more. Apes are definitely the upper class, but humans are not yet mute savages roaming the forests.

The key question is, if the Apes universe is a closed time loop, what happened? Why is it that when Taylor arrives 1,300 years later, ape society is practically agrarian, and humans are in such a fallen state? We're going to start providing some possible answers.

The main story is about that long war. It starts with an act of violence that disrupts the status quo of the society, which leads to insurrection, which leads to ape-human war. We can follow this story for years, as war sweeps across the planet. (And yes, we are talking about the entire planet—it's not just Ape City and the Forbidden City. Hasn't anyone wondered what the apes are doing in, say, China?)

HASSLEIN: POTA fandom has long been split over the question of whether the Apes films form a closed, circular loop or represent alternate histories. One camp cites the crying Caesar statue as evidence that things will go bad after Battle, as well as screenwriter Paul Dehn's stated intention to portray history as being circular, with Battle leading to Planet and back to Battle again. The other notes discrepancies between Cornelius' historical account in Escape and what actually happened in Conquest and Battle, as well as dialog from Hasslein and Virgil indicating the lanes can be changed. What made you decide to follow a closed-loop model for your storyline? And how would you reassure those who believe Conquest changed history entirely, in the hope that they'll give the series a chance?

GREGORY: I should have elaborated. The key part of my answer is the "if" in "if the Apes universe is a closed time loop." It may not be. I don't think the series needs to decide that. From the characters' point of view, they don't know if the future is hardwired.

However, plenty of readers know what "happened" in the future, in at least one timeline—the most vivid one. That's the big threat that hangs over the series—how will the humans avoid being slaves? Will the apes turn away from technology or embrace it? Those questions are still valid, whether we're in a close-loop universe or not.

(By the way, it's interesting that Hasslein talks about multiple timelines, but he acts as if Cornelius and Zira's appearance is going to definitely cause the apocalypse they describe. He doesn't realize that they've already changed the past by arriving here. Or that his own actions may cause the apocalypse to occur.)

HASSLEIN: How extensive is your knowledge of Planet of the Apes lore beyond the films? Are you familiar with the TV series and cartoons? The previous comic books? Pierre Boulle's original novel? The more obscure tales, such as the Power Records audios and the British hardcover annuals?

GREGORY: Oh no, you will not draw me into your contest, Rich! Compared to you, I'm a piker. I've watched the films many times (and I've been rewatching them lately, as you might expect). But besides reading the Marvel comics when I was a kid, I haven't read anything else, watched the cartoons, or looked to other media. And once I started working on this project, I didn't want to see them. We're treating the five films as canon, and nothing else. I didn't want to be influenced by what other writers had done with this world. I also didn't want to find out that my clever ideas had already been used.

HASSLEIN: What does BOOM!'s license allow you to incorporate? Are you forbidden, for instance, from utilizing concepts or characters from the TV series or Marvel's comics if you ever chose to do so?

GREGORY: My main concern is being true to the continuity and themes of the films. It may be that I'm forbidden from using other characters and concepts from outside the films—but I haven't asked to do anything with those.

HASSLEIN: Will your comics dovetail at all into the new continuity created by Rise of the Apes? Does BOOM! have that license as well, in case it decides to publish Rise-related comics in the future—either an adaptation of the film or spinoff tales?

GREGORY: This series is strictly the classic chronology, and we're not going to try to tie in to either the Burton film or the new reboot. And that makes my job a lot easier!

HASSLEIN: How much input have you had with regard to artwork? Has this been a very collaborative project, or have you and the interior and cover artists worked separately, with little interaction?

GREGORY: Carlos Magno does beautiful work, and he's definitely brought his own aesthetic to the Apes universe. Just wait until you see his gorillas! And how textured this world is!

But the process has been very collaborative, among me, Carlos, and our editor, Ian Brill (who, by the way, is a major POTA fan), the other folks at BOOM!, all the way up to the publisher, Ross Ritchie. We're building something from scratch, showing a world that definitely fits in the classic Apes universe, but shows an era we've never seen before. So we've had to talk about everything—dress, architecture, tools and weapons, body shapes, and even mood.

We've gone through many drafts of the script, multiple drafts of the layouts and character designs, even multiple takes at the color palette. This seems to be a labor of love for the whole team.

HASSLEIN: Finally, why do you think Planet of the Apes has endured for four decades, while other series have had less staying power? And conversely, why has POTA remained more of a niche franchise compared to larger, more mainstream mythos, such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and so forth?

GREGORY: Planet of the Apes has persisted because it was never just about apes versus humans. The first movie had such a strong sociopolitical message. And more than any other SF franchise, the movies want to talk as explicitly as possible about the problems of the day: racism, feminism, war and so on. This new BOOM! series continues that tradition. It's about what we're concerned with today. Well, at least what I'm concerned with.

I don't know if there are any good reasons why it's not a larger franchise. And all that could change with the next movie. Look at Battlestar Galactica—would anyone have put them in the same ballpark as Star Trek or Star Wars before the TV series came out of nowhere?

And of course, this comic book could change everything. All we need is for a few million people to buy it, and we'll make franchise history!

Rich, stop looking at me like that.

Special thanks to BOOM! Studios marketing director Chip Mosher for his assistance in arranging this interview.

General Ursus Doesn't Like Being Edited

My buddy Bill Hollweg, of BrokenSea Audio Productions, the creators of the fantastic POTA Audio Dramas and a great supporter of Hasslein Books, sent along this excellent sketch, which needs no other introduction since it speaks for itself—quite forcibly. Thanks, Bill!

Bill and BrokenSea are currently preparing to produce an audio recording of the 1970s Planet of the Apes stage show. Click here for more information about the upcoming audio-drama.

Watch an Excerpt of Vern Dietsche's Salvation for the Planet of the Apes

Indy filmmaker Vern Dietsche has finally found the dialog track for his Planet of the Apes student film, after thinking it was lost for 30 years, and has posted a piece of it online. For those of you unaware of this production, Vern created Salvation for the Planet of the Apes as a spec film to pitch a sixth POTA movie to 20th Century Fox in the '70s. He later misplaced the audio track, so it has remained a lost Apes gem for decades. Now that he's found the audio, Vern is restoring it and making it available to fans.

Here's the first excerpt that Vern has posted, with more to come:

Salvation starred Bill Blake and Paula Crist, who kept the POTA mythos alive in the '70s by performing in a traveling stage show called Meet Zira and Cornelius (click here for more information).

I have to hand it to Bill Blake—he REALLY sounds like Roddy McDowall. Wow. The dialog is admittedly clunky, and largely just consists of exposition, but hopefully, the remainder of the film, once released, will flow more smoothly. Considering that this is a student spec film, the makeup and production value are quite good. Despite Paula Crist's overacting, this lost Apes film looks like a lot of fun. Vern was kind enough to provide plot details as research for Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, and now we can finally see what it's about.

Tom Mason, former Planet of the Apes editor at Malibu Comics, and writer for Comix 411: Book Review for Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology

Heads up, monkey lovers! Uber-Apes fan and writer Rich Handley has put his stinking paws on the history of one of the most beloved and maddening sci-fi franchises ever: Planet of the Apes. The origin of the species that began with Pierre Boulle's novel, Monkey Planet, has encompassed movies, television shows, comic books, animated cartoons and so much more. Who can forget their Planet of the Apes lunchbox or their Mego action figure? Creators as varied as Rod Serling, Tim Burton, Paul Dehn, Doug Moench, Ian Edginton, Mike Ploog, Dale Keown, Gary Chaloner and Lowell Cunningham have been drawn into its orbit.

Now Rich has deftly organized all of the projects, spin-offs, and remakes and created Timeline Of The Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, a massive reference book suitable for the monkey shelf of your bookcase. Rich chronologically organizes every recorded event of Planet of the Apes history starting from before Caesar's birth and going way beyond [spoiler alert] Earth's destruction. Rich says, "This book covers every film, television episode, cartoon, novel, comic book, short story and audio-tale produced under the Planet of the Apes banner over the past four decades." He even includes a number of rejected and unpublished tales previously unavailable to fans.

Originally produced for a publisher that went belly-up, Rich pulled back his completed manuscript and is self-publishing through his own Hasslein Books imprint. Packed with 350 cover images, a recommended viewing/reading order, time travel trivia, a title/creator index of published fiction and a wealth of POTA inconsistencies and discontinuities, make the book a must-have item for any true fanboy.

Someday, the apes will rule us all, and it's nice to see how they plan to do it.

[Full Disclosure: I used to edit the Planet of the Apes comic books for Malibu Comics and many of the folks who worked on them are represented in Rich's book.]

Hasslein Books to Give Away Free Planet of the Apes Reference Books to Facebook and Twitter Followers

One fan who "Likes" Hasslein Books' Facebook page will receive a free copy of Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, while one follower of the company's Twitter feed will win Timeline of the Planet of the Apes—both autographed by author Rich Handley.

NEW YORK, May 2, 2012—To celebrate the imminent re-launch of its Web site, as well as the upcoming release of several new titles in its growing library of genre-related reference books, independent publisher Hasslein Books is offering a contest to those with Facebook and Twitter accounts, in order to increase its social-media presence.

One randomly chosen fan who "Likes" Hasslein Books' Facebook page will receive a free copy of From Aldo to Zira—Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia. At more than 420 pages, this hefty tome contains 3,200 alphabetical entries in 50-plus categories, detailing every character, creature, location, weapon, vehicle and more, from every film, episode, cartoon, comic, novel and video game in the Planet of the Apes mythos. Breathtaking full-page sketches by artist Pat Carbajal highlight key characters, with more than 800 additional images accenting a mother lode of information—plus, a foreword by famed literary critic John Kenneth Muir. Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, published in 2010, is the best way to learn everything there is to know about Planet of the Apes.

In addition, one randomly chosen fan who "Follows" Hasslein Books' Twitter feed will win a free copy of Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, published in 2008. Timeline of the Planet of the Apes presents four decades of films, episodes, cartoons, novels, comics, short stories and audios—including rejected or unpublished tales—in their proper chronological context. With a chronology spanning millennia, this volume features more than 350 cover images, a recommended viewing/reading order, an examination of time travel and a title/creator index—plus, insightful notes discussing preliminary and discarded concepts, discontinuities, fascinating trivia and more.

Winners will be chosen at random after Hasslein Books hits 500 followers on each site.

"When we launched Hasslein Books, we wanted to be able to offer science fiction, adventure and horror fans the types of books we've always enjoyed reading, as we are, first and foremost, fans ourselves," said Handley, "and our first two offerings—the Planet of the Apes books—have been very successful. Now, we're starting to grow, with nine upcoming titles in various stages of planning, from such popular authors as Alan J. Porter, David A. McIntee and Jim Beard. With that in mind, it's time for us to get the word out to more genre fans."

Paul C. Giachetti, Hasslein Books' art director and co-founder, added, "Social media is a powerful business tool, and we're excited at the prospect of growing our presence on Twitter and Facebook. Joining our online communities is a great way to gain awareness of what we're doing—and, best of all, everyone who does so will have a chance to win one of our existing reference books. With our Web site soon to undergo some major changes—it's going to look amazing—now is a good time for us to offer people some free stuff."

To become eligible for the contest, simply "Like" www.facebook.com/hassleinbooks and/or "Follow" twitter.com/hassleinbooks. Winners will be announced at all three sites once the requisite numbers of followers have been reached.

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