Charles Kenneth 'Ken' Spears is a TV writer and animator. He is co-founder, with his partner Joe Ruby, of the production company Ruby-Spears Productions. Both men started out as editors at Hanna-Barbera Productions, working together on The Flintstones from 1960. Spears then worked on Hanna-Barbera's Jonny Quest (1964–65, created by Doug Wildey) and The Secret Squirrel Show. Ruby and Spears collaborated in writing for Hanna-Barbera's Space Ghost, The Herculoids and The Adventures of Gulliver, and followed this in 1968 by creating and writing the hugely popular Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoon series. After writing further animated shows for Hanna-Barbera such as Josie and the Pussycats, Harlem Globe Trotters and The Funky Phantom, Ruby and Spears created, wrote and produced The Houndcats, The Barkleys (starring Henry Corden) and Bailey's Comets (1973) for DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.
In 1974, Ruby and Spears ventured into live-action TV when they became story consultants for the Planet of the Apes TV series. At the time, they were under contract to supervise the Saturday morning schedule on the CBS TV network. Fred Silverman, CBS Vice President in charge of programming, invited them to review the completed scripts and they agreed with him that the stories should be re-oriented to "75% action, 25% drama". This extended to reworking Anthony Lawrence's script for "The Deception", for which they received co-writing credits. Following the cancellation of the Apes show, the duo created the animated series Jabberjaw and two live-action TV shows for Sid & Marty Krofft Productions - Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976) and Wonderbug (1976-77). In 1977 they founded their own Ruby-Spears Productions and returned to the world of animated TV shows. The firm's credits include the cartoon series Fangface, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Thundarr the Barbarian, Goldie Gold and Action Jack, Rubik the Amazing Cube, Mr. T, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Turbo Teen, Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos, The Centurions, Police Academy, Superman and Mega Man.
Doug Wildey, supervising director and associate producer of the 1975 Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series produced by DePatie-Freleng, worked with the company between 1980 and 1986, serving as story director on Thundarr the Barbarian, Goldie Gold and Action Jack and Mr. T. In 1980, comic artist Jack Kirby also began working with Ruby-Spears Productions, designing characters and backgrounds for the same three series. Wildey and Kirby were both then creative consultants on Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos and The Centurions. During his time with Ruby-Spears, Kirby began drawing presentation boards for new animation projects. Among the presentations he proposed was a Planet of the Apes cartoon based on the 1974 TV series. Concept sketches by Kirby have been unearthed, one of which is of Virdon and Burke (both looking rather different), a female astronaut (“blonde companion of astronauts”) and Toonak, a “human slave boy.” A second sketch shows a giant hulking Urko, Zaius, Galen and his wife Zyra, and Jheena, a young female chimp companion to Toonak. A third, much more unusual sketch seems to show an enormous gorilla with hands aloft; in one hand a male human astronaut; in the other a human female in what appears to be a super-hero outfit. In the background a human or ape figure carries a banner while riding a dragon-like flying reptile over a mountain. The images of the giant gorilla among mountains and, particularly, of the flying reptile are more reminiscent of 'Kygoor' and the 'Monster Bird' from Doug Wildey's Return to the Planet of the Apes. Ruby-Spears' Apes series was never developed, but in 2010 Ruby-Spears and Sid & Marty Krofft announced plans to revive some of the original characters Kirby had also designed during that time, in as many forms as possible.
- ↑ Story Editors on the Planet of the Apes, by John Roche - 'Simian Scrolls' #16 (2010)
- ↑ 'Simian Scrolls #6' at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
- ↑ Behind The Planet Of The Apes - The Jack Kirby Collector
- ↑ Jack Kirby’s Heroes in Waiting - New York Times