Today is National Gorilla Suit Day, the day when men, women and children of all ages don their gorilla suits and stroll their towns, visiting the neighbors and showing off their hirsute finery. Smart shoppers will have picked up their gorilla suits at a substantial discount at an after-Halloween sale.
Controversy continues to surround National Gorilla Suit Day; some, like Fester Bestertester, believe that it is a fake holiday invented by the gorilla suit manufacturers to sell their wares. Others, this reporter among them, consider National Gorilla Suit Day to be one of America’s more important holidays.
The gorilla suit is a long-established Hollywood tradition, including such greats as Ray “Crash” Corrigan, George Barrows (Robot Monster), Janos Prohaska (Star Trek‘s “Mugatu”), Bob “Kogar” Burns (Tracy on TV’s The Ghost Busters) and legendary monster-maker Rick Baker (the 1976 King Kong; Greystoke; Gorillas in the Mist). You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about Hollywood’s “suit men” at Hollywood Gorilla Men.
As all gorilla suit aficionados know, National Gorilla Suit Day is the invention of the late Don Martin, once known at “MAD’s Maddest Artist;” the holiday featured prominently in his 1963 paperback collection, “Don Martin Bounces Back” in which he told the tale of the aforementioned Mr. Bestertester’s opposition to the festivities and the carnage that is visited upon him as a result. The story features people in gorilla suits, gorillas in people suits, gorillas in gorilla suits, and some of each in various other disguises, in a 56-page extravaganza full of Martin’s trademark absurd violence and giggle-inducing sound effects.
Unfortunately, the book is long out of print, and none of the material from the many Don Martin paperbacks was included in the massive two-volume collection of his MAD work, MAD’s Greatest Artists: The Completely MAD Don Martin; “National Gorilla Suit Day” has never to my knowledge been reprinted anywhere. A few minutes of searching online will produce scans of the story; I’m not linking to them here out of respect for Mr. Martin’s copyright. What I can do is link to his books on Amazon; until such time as somebody decides to re-release these marvelous books, that’s the best we can do.
Don Martin’s books at Amazon:
Don Martin Steps Out
Don Martin Bounces Back (featuring “National Gorilla Suit Day”)
Don Martin Drops 13 Stories (including the first appearance of Captain Klutz)
Adventures of Captain Klutz
Don Martin Cooks up More Tales
Don Martin Comes on Strong
Captain Klutz II
Don Martin Carries On
The Completely Mad Don Martin
Don Martin Steps Further Out
Don Martin Forges Ahead
Don Martin Digs Deeper
Don Martin Grinds Ahead
Don Martin Sails Ahead
Don Martin’s Brain Games for Kids
After you’ve ordered your books, grab your gorilla suit and head downtown. Happy Gorilla Suit Day!