Sunday, October 22, 2006

Planet of the Horses

Feeling the chill of Halloween approaching, I was flipping through my old monster magazines and came across this issue of CRACKED from the 70's (or 80's). My favorite issues were the all monster theme issues.

In this issue, they reran a bit called Planet of the Creatures, where they spoofed Planet of the Apes using different common animals..i.e. dogs, cats, skunks(!), etc. (wonderfully drawn and inked by John Severin!)
One full page was dedicated to the Planet of the Horses spoof...see below.

I find this interesting and it struck me how art imitates life...imitating art again. What am a I talking about?
Let's back track a step.

The original idea for Planet of the Apes was derived from Pierre Boulle's...La Planete des Singes (Monkey Planet) written in 1963. Monkey Planet was written as a satirical look at society supposedly inspired by Boulle's visit to a zoo. Impressed by the human expressions of the apes, this spurred Boulle on and within six months, he had the basic outline for Monkey Planet. In Boulle's version, man was captive and savage, where the ape's society was civil and very much like a 1963 earth with cars, skyscrapers, etc.

(Planet of the Apes producer, Arthur Jacobs and Pierre Boulle)

Many at the time thought Boulle's satire was brilliant and inventive, but on a closer literary examination, we see that there is truly "nothing new under the sun". Some of Boulle's inspiration probably came from an Irish satirist and poet by the name of Jonathan Swift who wrote a four book epic called Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver (1726)...aka Gulliver's Travels. Most know the story of Gulliver and the island of Lilliput, but who remembers the fourth novel called A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms? (yes, it's spelled correctly!)

In this world, Gulliver finds himself captured by a speaking and ruling class of intelligent Horses, and mistaken to be a native savage human (called a Yahoo), destined to die. The Horse society rules by reason alone and can't understand emotions....similar to Star Treks' Mr. Spock and the Vulcan society. Eventually his life is spared by showing the Horse populace that he is civilized and not like the other native Yahoos. Yet another literary example of using animals as a metaphor for the inhumanity we cultivate.

So, I wonder if the writers at CRACKED read any Jonathan Swift? Probably not. So this is a prime example of ideas mirroring each other. This sort of "rehashing" happens all the time, and some...George Lucas...have built an empire on the technique.

2 Comments:

Blogger chuck said...

Rehashing, kinda like, Frodo-Skywalker and Obi-Wan-Gandalf.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Ziomal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:35 PM  

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