Kono congratulates Tono. Artist: Paul Norris.

THE JUNGLE TWINS

Original medium: Comic Books
Published by: Gold Key Comics
First Appeared: 1972
Creators: Gaylord DuBois (writer) and Paul Norris (artist)
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From the late 1940s to the early '70s, one of the many properties licensed for comic books by Western Printing was Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which it published first through its affiliation with Dell Comics and then by its own imprint, Gold Key. But that ended in 1972, when the Tarzan franchise, along with that of other …

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… Burroughs creations, was transferred to DC, the publisher of Superman and Batman. The last issue of Gold Key's Tarzan of the Apes was dated February, 1972.

Without missing a beat, Gold Key replaced the bimonthly title with a brand-new jungle adventure comic, owned by Western itself, so nobody could ever take away. The first issue of The Jungle Twins, whose newly-created stars, Tono and Kono, were European youths raised in that environment, was dated April, 1972. It was created by the same team that had been doing Tarzan in its final days at Gold Key — writer Gaylord DuBois, whose very prolific work for Western included Space Family Robinson and Turok, Son of Stone; and artist Paul Norris, co-creator of Aquaman, but probably better known for his many years at King Features, working on Brick Bradford. By June of the same year, Gold Key had moved Tarzan's long-running back-pages stars, Brothers of the Spear, which it retained ownership of, into their own title.

The Jungle Twins' origin story was straight out of Hollywood. Small plane crashes deep in jungle; baby is only survivor; cut to years later, when now-grown baby has become a local champion; only this time the baby was a pair of identical twins. Also, the twins were royalty — the parents who died in the crash were the king and queen of Glockenberg, a made-up European pocket kingdom, which, as it turned out later, had suffered a certain degree of polital instability since the disappearance of the royal family.

But that instability in far-away Europe was only vaguely reflected in the boys' new surroundings. They'd been rescued by Molo, a local chief, who raised them as his own sons, naming them Tono and Kono. The only way to tell them apart was that Tono, the older by a few minutes, wore a locket to identify him as heir to the throne (not that it made a difference to the boys or anyone they knew). Despite the fact that by 1972, the idea of native tribes having little or no contact with civilization was getting less and less plausible, they did grow up without being affected very strongly by their heritage. They made friends with an occasonal explorer; and fended off an occasional would-be assassin who, hearing rumors of them, thought Glockenberg would benefit by their demise. But that was about it.

Gold Key wasn't as successful with The Jungle Twins as it had been with Tarzan. Their title lasted 17 issues, ending with a cover date of November, 1975. In 1982, as part of a general practice (cf. Mighty Samson, Tragg & the Sky Gods and more), Whitman, another Western imprint, published one final issue shortly before getting out of the comic book business. As was their usual practice in doing this, the 18th issue was a reprint of #1.

— DDM

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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Western Printing and Lithographing.