Next month, BOOM! Studios will launch Kong of Skull Island, a new series from writer James Asmus and artist Carlos Magno.
King Kong was created by Merian C. Cooper, and Kong of Skull Island is grounded in artist/author Joe DeVito’s Skull Island. BOOM! is partnering with DeVito Artworks LLC to present this story, exclusively authorized and endorsed by the Cooper family as their official King Kong/Skull Island prequel and sequel origin story. In the series, two fractured and combative civilizations are forced to band together as they venture onto Skull Island—their new home.
Asmus joined ComicBook.com to discuss the series, which debuts on July 11. The final order cutoff for Kong of Skull Island #1 is Monday, June 20, so if you want to get a copy, make sure to contact your retailer now.
You can also check out a cover gallery below, including the FOC variant by Carlos Magno, which retailers can order in any amount.
First off, is this tied in any way to the upcoming movie?
No, our series is its own original prequel to the original Kong story, created by writer/director Merian C. Cooper. Before he made the original film for RKO, he developed Kong and Skull Island through a novelization. Cooper and his estate have overseen a few different publishing projects over the years, all building off a shared history and mythology, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be contributing to the mythology of the genuine original!
This isn't just Kong of Skull Island: it's Kong ON Skull Island. Are we going to stay there throughout your story?
It's actually the story of how the natives from the original AND the Kong came to Skull Island themselves. There was a little reference in some of the established mythology that the natives came to the island when theirs was destroyed. It immediately jumped out at me. Imagine a disaster upending your world, fleeing for your life with everyone you know — only to wind up on an island teeming with vicious dinosaurs! It was too horrifying, heartbreaking, and dramatically enticing a moment to pass up.
We get some tantalizing looks at the culture and the creatures on the island already. Are we going to get more of that as the story progresses?
This is one of the most fully fleshed-out and interesting worlds I've gotten to write, for sure. Between the original Cooper story, a series of expansions by artist/writer Joe DeVito, and my own exploration, a tremendous amount of thought and care went into developing the native culture and the world of Skull Island way beyond the stock, easy versions people might expect. And I think in digging deeper into the diversity and complexity of their society, I think the characters and conflicts developed real resonance and relatability beyond what even I expected.
(While still bringing all the escapist thrills and horrors of giant savage apes and dinosaurs, of course!)
Obviously most people know you from your superhero work. What brought you and BOOM! together on Kong?
I connected with a few different folks at BOOM! while I was still exclusive at Valiant last year — I had just wanted to express how impressed I was with the breadth and quality of books they were putting out. I think it was a Humble Bundle release where it hit me just how many different titles they launched struck me as exciting, fresh, or just plain excellently crafted. We talked about a few things, but even I'd admit I was surprised to be asked to pitch on Kong.
But nothing interests me more than exploring something new and different than what I've done before, so I jumped at the chance to at least see what I could come up with. This story actually poured out of me pretty quickly and, luckily, got everyone else as excited about it as I was!
Obviously Carlos has plenty of experience with apes. Did he have any tips for you, in terms of what works best when you're working with that iconography?
He didn't, but I'm pretty deferential in my scripts. I try to always make it clear to my art partners that if they see a better way to tackle a moment — I trust their visual sensibilities more than my own. And I feel that even more emphatically with Carlos.
The level of craft, energy, detail, and power he crafts and captures in his pages is incredible! And he delivers 100% in every single panel! It sounds like hyperbole, but I'm really not exaggerating. His commitment and skill blow me away.
The solicitations tell us very little about the actual story. Can you tease what's coming up?
There are a lot of twists and explorations, so I think it's best enjoyed as a wild and surprising ride, right alongside our characters. But I can tell you it's a mix of survival thriller, relationship drama, and savage horror!
Two tribes in an uneasy alliance have to rely on each other when their home is falling apart — and fate sails them to Skull Island. It's complex characters caught in a maelstrom of danger and jockeying for power. But in the end, who will rule Skull Island: dinosaur, Kong, or (wo)man?
We do have a first-person narrator. Can you talk about who our point-of-view character is?
Well, in a funny little curve-ball, they aren't the same person in this one! The Kong mythology we're weaving into has a lineage position within the tribes of Storyteller. Essentially, these women are the keepers of their people's history.
Our Storyteller is a supporting character, but I thought her voice could offer a thoughtful reflection and perspective amid the upheaval and terror. Additionally, I want the readers to be uncertain which of our characters might survive this ordeal. And keeping our guiding voice outside of the central action allows for tragedy to take any of our core characters.
Is there anything you really want to get out there about the series that these questions haven't given you a chance to say?
It's rare to be given a chance to do what feels like creator-owned work on a licensed or “name-brand” title—which is to say just throw yourself in and tell a story that excites and resonates for you without being derailed or compromised by outside concerns. But I truly feel like everyone involved here has thrown all-in on making a surprising, emotional, and all-out comic that deserves the epic and iconic KONG name.
I got swept away, myself, into a really driven and excited place in telling this story. But Carlos absolutely elevates this book into a world you can lose yourself inside and feel in your bones. And everyone from our incredible editors to the finishing art and design team to an utterly incredible array of cover artists all have delivered a passion to this book that probably speaks to the gigantic influence and primal inspiration King Kong is to so many of us fans of epic and fantastic imagination.
And I think readers who crave that big, savage bolt of storytelling will not be disappointed in this KONG.