Professor Dons Gorilla Suit to Make Point

Article by Connect Mason Managing Director Dane Styler and Director Whitney Rhodes, Photos/Audio by Broadside Staff Reporter Edwin Mora

One Mason professor took it upon himself to see that National Gorilla Suit Day was no longer just a ploy set up by gorilla suit companies.

Dan Kubiske, a professor in the communication department, strolled along the campus walkways in a man-sized gorilla suit earlier today. He walked from the Johnson Center to his classroom in Innovation Hall to emphasize the significance of using a variety of ways to come up with unique and interesting stories.

In this case, Kubiske's angle was January 31 - National Gorilla Suit Day.

"It's a teaching opportunity," said Kubiske. "There are a lot of commemorative, special days - some are fun, some are serious. Now I'm going to teach it to my news editing class and [have them] see that there are many different ways to get different and interesting stories."

What is National Gorilla Suit Day?

"Everybody knows it's just a ploy by the gorilla suit companies to sell their products."

These were the words voiced by the grumpy cartoon character Bestertester to his pal Karbuncle in the pages of a 1963 comic-strip paperback, "Don Martin Bounces Back!" in which the fictitious holiday of National Gorilla Suit Day made its first appearance, according to Steve Burgess of

The adventure, aptly titled "National Gorilla Suit Day," entails every object in site revealing itself to be a gorilla in disguise, ready to pounce the unsuspecting characters. The book was illustrated by "MAD's Maddest Artist," otherwise know as civilian and cartoonist Don Martin (5/18/1931-1/6/2000) in the employ of MAD Magazine in the fifties on through the eighties until breaking from the then MAD publisher, William Gaines.

The cartoon was considered "One of the single funniest comic stories ever drawn," according to Scott Shaw of Comic Book Resources, and the paperback itself went through eight printings. Shaw says in the article that the tradition of dressing up as a gorilla and parading around town as such began as tribute to the story.

Martin died of cancer at the age of 68 in Jan. 2000, having received the National Cartoonist Society Special Features Award twice in 1981 and 1982. A posthumous recognition was made when he was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.

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