King Kong (Boys' Magazine short story)
King Kong is the name of a short story published in the 608th issue of the 23rd volume of the English story paper Boys' Magazine on October 28, 1933, as part of a special "souvenir issue" to commemorate the King Kong film. While its author went uncredited in the publication, it was assured to readers that it was penned by "a famous boys' author." It has been speculated that it was penned by Draycott Montague "Monty" Dell, a close friend and frequent collaborator of the late Edgar Wallace, who could not be credited due to his being the publisher of a rival magazine. It was reprinted in 1988 by anthologist Peter Haining, who first suggested Dell's authorship, but miscredited the publication to Cinema Weekly, which was not in use for any publication at the time. It was reprinted again in an anthology of monster stories in 2019, and again, alongside one of Wallace's earliest drafts of the film, in 2023.
My Dear Chums,
Whether you have seen that great film, King Kong, at your local cinema yet or not, you will be enthralled by the breathless story of his adventures, which I have secured for next week. By special arrangement with Radio Pictures, Ltd., the exploits of Kong will appear in a boy's journal for the first time. In addition to spectacle pictures, the exciting and ingenious way in which the film was made, will also be revealed.
Chaps, I know you will agree with me when I say this is a chance of a lifetime for every boy to possess a permanent record of the greatest film ever produced, so I want every one of you to blazon the great news of our Kong Souvenir Number to all your chums, so that they, too, can obtain a copy for themselves. Such a treat is a rare occurrence—so make the most of it. Assuming that most of you have already seen the film, I will not waste space here with a résumé of the story, but I can say this—if anything, the breathless chapters, written by a famous boys' author specially for the Mag., are even more real and thrilling than the picturisation on the silver screen.
— Letter from the Editor advertising the story in Boys' Magazine issue 607
The S.S. Venture approaches its mysterious destination in a dense fog. The crew, including first mate Jack Driscoll, can hear the breaker waves indicating an approaching reef, but Captain Englehorn stays the course in uncharted water. They all know that he is acting at the behest of the motion-picture man Carl Denham, who is the only other person aboard aware of their destination: a mysterious isle he once learned about years prior. Englehorn cuts the engines and drops anchor before hitting the reef, and Carl hears angry drums coming from the nearby shore. When the mist clears, they note the eerie absence of people on the shore watching them, and as the Captain takes the ship through a channel in the reef and nearer to the island, the crew notices the skull-shaped mountain looming overhead. Almost immediately the sailors row ashore, and Denham warns the second mate Briggs about the trichloride bombs he is carrying, which only Driscoll, Englehorn, and Denham himself know are being brought in case they come face to face with the mysterious beast known to the natives as Kong. The men make for the village, and Driscoll makes sure to stay near Denham's actress Ann Darrow.
They spy the natives in the midst of a ceremony in which they drape a girl in flowers by torchlight as men dressed in gorilla pelts dance around her, all chanting "Kong." Denham moves to film this, but is soon spotted by their chieftain, who halts the ceremony. He tells the interlopers plainly to go away, but indulges their questions until the local witch-doctor comes to his side to proclaim the ceremony ruined. The chief then asks to purchase Darrow from them as a gift for Kong, and Denham signals a retreat. The natives follow them menacingly until the chief orders them to halt, but Denham questions his motives, and suspects there is more to this action than it may appear. That night aboard the ship, Denham plots with the skeptical skipper and Jack, who is firmly against returning. Just after midnight, they hear a sailor calling all hands to deck, and run into the ship's cook Charlie, who had found a native bracelet onboard. Denham remembers the chief's offer, and suspects the worse. They search the ship to find their suspicions confirmed: Ann had been taken.
The Chief stands atop the gate in the island's ancient wall as the giant gong is struck. He calls out to Kong as Ann is tied to an altar and the gates are barred behind her. The fifty-foot-tall gorilla called Kong then arrives, coming out of the jungle and beating his chest before taking his offering in hand and roaring back at the men atop the wall. The crew's rescue party make it ashore unnoticed by the villagers, who are all invested in the ceremony, and quickly work to unbar the gate. Jack, looking through a window, is able to see Ann taken away as the beast retreats into the night. Without question the men go in after the woman, but only Jack knows what they are truly pursuing.
While in a swamp, the sailors see one of Kong's footprints and are amazed at its size before hearing a loud roar and being set upon by a three-horned, spiked-tailed Dinosaurus. They fire on the beast, and Denham tosses one of his gas bombs, which fells it. The sailors continue shooting volleys into its horned scales, but it is Denham who kills it with a shot to the head. They then use fallen trees to construct a raft on which to float across the wetland, but they are soon approached by a Brontosaurus. The sailors shoot at the beast, and in retaliation, it returns below the water's surface and re-emerges right under the raft, sending the crew tumbling into the water. The beast crushes a few sailors to death in its mouth while Driscoll, Denham, and the other survivors continue into the jungle. They come across a massive crack in the ground bridged by an ancient fallen tree, and Driscoll surges ahead with the rest following his example. Halfway across, Kong appears on the other side to menace them. Some of the sailors back away in fear of him, which leads them to fall to their deaths in the pit below. Jack grabs a vine and climbs down into a shallow cave in the rock face before Kong tosses the log down into the crevice alongside the remaining crewmen. Kong then begins pawing down at Driscoll in his cave, and the man is able to stick Kong with his knife before noticing a huge Polysauro climbing a vine hanging at the cave's mouth. Braving Kong's wrath, Driscoll comes forward to cut the vine, sending the creature crashing down. Shortly thereafter, Kong is distracted by a monstrous opponent. He climbs up to peer over the top of the ravine to see Kong battling a prehistoric Meat-Eater, who stand between him and Ann. He waits for a chance to get to her, but soon Kong kills the beast by pulling its jaws apart, and takes Ann away, further ahead into the jungle. Denham then calls to Jack from the other side of the ravine, and the sailor instructs the movie man to prepare more bombs before rushing off after Kong.
Jack tracks Kong to a great cave, where the beast is set upon by a giant water snake. Jack briefly hopes it will strangle him, but Kong pulls it away and dashes its head on a rock before retreating to a cliff to hold Darrow and stroke her hair. The woman then screams as a Pterodactyl attacks and plucks her from Kong's grasp. He quickly snags the beast and tears it apart. Jack, seeing an opening while Kong's back is turned, crawls over to Ann, who screams at the sight of him until he covers her mouth with his hand. The two make their way to a vine hanging from the cliff and begin to descend. Kong, noticing that Ann is gone, looks over the edge and begins reeling the vine back up to get them back. Jack and Ann then drop into a pool below and begin running back toward the village. A sailor atop the wall spots them, and before they can think about leaving, Denham proposes they capture Kong alive. Driscoll finds this ridiculous and informs Denham that Kong is in his mountaintop lair, where he would be safe from an army, let alone some sailors with gas bombs. They then hear the sounds of Kong approaching, and try to shut the gate. When a sailor sounds the gong, the natives emerge from their homes to help them. They are able to briefly shut the beast out, but Kong bangs on the doors and soon has them open. Sailors and islanders flee before him as he spots his prize: Ann Darrow, the golden woman. He then commits various acts of violence against the islanders before Denham is able to throw one of the gas bombs at his feet. Kong tries to fight the effects of the gas, but it soon overtakes him, and Denham orders him restrained before declaring that he would put him on Broadway as "Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World."
At the opening night of his exhibition, Kong is chained and presented by Denham, with Ann by his gargantuan side. When Driscoll comes onstage, the press cameramen begin taking flash pictures, which confuse and enrage Kong, who believes they are a threat to Ann's safety. He breaks free of his restraints and exits the theater before climbing up its side to a room where Driscoll is trying to comfort Darrow. He sees the ape's face at the window, and tries to fight him when his arm comes in, but is unable to keep him from taking Ann. Kong then examines a raised train track, and crumples it after a train goes speeding by. The next train is not as lucky, as it gets caught on the mangled track, and after startling Kong with its headlamp, he picks it up and throws it away, spilling its passengers as it flies. In a local police station, Driscoll and Denham get word that Kong is climbing the Empire State Building with Ann in hand, and Driscoll has the idea to use airplanes to kill Kong if he puts Ann down. Atop the building, Kong swats at the planes, and is able to knock one out of the sky, but another sends a volley into his chest and throat. Kong weakens and lose his footing, falling off the tower to his death. Jack then arrives to comfort Ann.
Weapons, vehicles, and races
Differences from the film
- The nameless sailor who carries the bombs, who replaced the character Jimmy in the screenplay and novelization, is replaced by second mate Briggs, who remained on the ship in the source material.
- The Stegosaurus and Triceratops are replaced by a strange hybrid referred to as a "Dinosaurus".
- Instead of Kong shaking the sailors off the log and into the spider pit, they back away in fear of Kong, and apparently lose their footing and fall.
- This is the only piece of media known to give a proper name to the Two-Legged Lizard from the spider pit.
- Jack Driscoll's first name is stated as "John" in his Broadway introduction. Jack is often used as a nickname for John, but it is rare in Kong media for this to be explicitly stated to be Driscoll's case.
- Instead of trampling the audience and bursting out of the theater, Kong exits through the wings with no mention of destruction.
- While Ann Darrow is present in this telling, she is a less prominent character, with all of her point-of-view scenes absent. This is likely a contributing factor to the story's dropping of the "beauty and the beast" angle, and the associated iconic closing line.
This is a list of references for King Kong (Boys' Magazine short story). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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