National Gorilla Suit Day

By | Friday, January 31, 2020 2 comments
National Gorilla Suit Day is January 31
Several years ago, I pondered the origins of National Gorilla Suit Day. (Which is today. So don't be surprised if you see someone walking around in a gorilla suit.) It's obviously the brainchild of cartoonist Don Martin. The comic he created that first introduced the idea in 1963 is absolutely brilliant.

But why January 31? There was a MAD Don Martin Calendar in 1979 that pegged National Gorilla Suit Day on March 5. Don Martin himself was born on May 18 and died on January 6. January 31 seems to have no significance.

Mark Evanier, who was probably the biggest proponent of the holiday for several years, has removed any mention of it as of a few years ago at the request of Don's widow. But I did find this reference on the Beaming for Bunnies blog...
Why is it on January 31st? That was thanks to Mark Evanier, who just decided that it should be celebrated on this day because the date itself is never specified in the story. That's one of his banners up at the top, there.

And according to this 1979 calendar, National Gorilla Suit Day fell on March 5th.

I wish I could go into more detail about all this, but there's not much info on Mark's site about it, because he deleted almost every reference to it in 2007 at the request of Don's widow since she was promoting a new Don Martin collection that had the story in it. Which is really weird in itself, when you think about it, it's always been one of the weirdest enforcements of copyright I've ever seen. His estate owns the rights to all of his non-MAD works and sure, it's understandable. But Mark's been in the business for years and was really close to the MAD magazine staff, and his blog essentially gave it free promotion.
So that's about as close to solving the 'mystery' as we're going to get, I think, given that Evanier has not only removed any references on his site but seems to have managed to removed any references to it from the records of his site! (The man clearly has a lot more power than he lets on!) But it seems that Evanier just picked a random day with no other gorilla/Martin significance. Maybe it was his mother's birthday? Maybe it was Carolyn Kelly's birthday? (Evanier was dating her then before she passed away in 2017, and I can find no mention of her actual birthday online anywhere.) Maybe he threw a dart at an old wall calendar he was going to throw away anyway because why did he even bother keeping that 1997 calendar around in the first place?

But ultimately it would seem that, like many things, it's all Evanier's fault.
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Anonymous said...

Mark was using ART from Don's pocketbook. I did not complain about his promoting the story (For WARNER/MAD) I complained to Mark about the copyright infringement of the art and Mark should be fair and square about this. Own up to it Mark. AND--MAD told you what date to use for the holiday--!... Mrs. Don Martin

Unknown said...

Don't really xare which day. It was Don Martin at his finest. I have his 2 volume set of work. I truly am sorry I never got yo meet him. As I live in Florida as dud he.
Here's to Don. Bffffth!!