The eleventh issue of the Dick Van Dyke Show comic book was only the second that did not feature Mary Tyler Moore on its
cover. When I purchased that issue in March of 1965, I didn't think anything of that omission or even of the odd cover blurb which said, "Good
Riddance! Rob is spirited off to the planet Twylo and never comes back!" I was more interested in the fact that it was a sequel to my
favorite episode of the TV show, "It May Look Like a Walnut," which had aired two years earlier. I'm sure you recall how Rob had a nightmare
and dreamed that Kolak, an alien from the planet Twylo who looked just like Danny Thomas but with four eyes, was conquering Earth by spreading
around walnuts filled with absorbatron.
In this book-length story, "The Revenge of Kolak," Ritchie wants to go to a drive-in movie for his birthday, so Rob and Laura
take him. All goes well until Laura finds out that the movie is The Revenge of Kolak, the sequel to the horror movie she and Rob watched
in the original episode. Ritchie and Rob are eager to see the movie but Laura is scared and insists on napping in the back seat. There,
she dreams of being pursued by Kolak, who I guess is supposed to look like Danny Thomas but actually resembles Edward G. Robinson.
He takes her off to Twylo in a space ship shaped like a walnut. Rob finds out and drives to Cape Canaveral in Florida where
he "borrows" a rocket and goes after her. (Again, the cover line does not match the story inside. Rob is not "spirited off" to
Twylo. He goes voluntarily to rescue Laura.)
Once he gets there, he finds that Kolak has seized control of his wife's mind. She has been transformed back into her alien
identity of Lolak of Twylo. Buddy, Sally, Mel, Ritchie, Jerry, Millie and even Alan Brady are also present on Twylo, all transformed into alien
zombies. (The funniest moment comes when Alien Alan, though hypnotized, still manages to tell Alien Mel to shut up.) Rob disguises
himself as a Twyloite and manages to infiltrate and overhear Kolak's plan to conquer the universe with a giant walnut, three-feet high and filled
with enough absorbatron to destroy the galaxy if it will not surrender to him.
Rob's cover is blown when Alien Mel mentions something about how he hopes that once they control the galaxy, Twylo scientists will find
a way to grow hair. Alien Buddy says, "You'll grow thumbs before you grow hair, Baldy," and Rob laughs out loud. Instantly, Kolak yells,
"Someone has a sense of humor! There must be an Earthling among us!" Rob flees for his life and a mad chase ensues through the tunnels
and crannies of Twylo. Rob eventually doubles back and gets his hands on the huge, absorbatron-filled walnut. He threatens to dash it to
the ground and destroy the universe unless Kolak follows his orders: Restore my friends' minds and give us a rocket to get back to Earth. Kolak
has no choice but to agree. Laura, Ritchie and the rest are restored to human form and the rocket is readied. But as he walks towards it,
still holding the giant walnut, Rob trips over a device that looks like an alien ottoman. He drops the walnut, the universe is destroyed and
Laura wakes up screaming at the drive-in movie. She tells Rob and Ritchie what she dreamed and they both agree it's a much better story than
the lousy movie but Rob says he's not so afraid that he's ready to go home.
Just then, there's a tap on the car window. It's a stranger who is supposed to look like Danny Thomas (I guess) but actually
looks more like Edward G. Robinson. Rob screams, revs up the engine and zooms off, snapping the wire to the car speaker. The end.
As incredible as that story it is, it cannot compete with what happened on the set of The Dick Van Dyke Show on September 8,
1964. Western Publishing cover editor Walter Zwart (seen at left in a photo supplied by his son, Elliot) visited the set as they were
rehearsing the episode, "Romances, Roses and Rye Bread." It was a chaotic week even before he arrived. Actor Gavin McLeod, who would
later co-star on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was initially signed to play the delicatessen owner who has a crush on Rose Marie's character,
Sally Rogers. In the midst of rehearsals, McLeod was stricken with appendicitis and rushed to the hospital.
To take his place, producer Carl Reiner lassoed Sid Melton, the veteran character actor who played Danny Thomas's agent on The Danny
Thomas Show, filmed on the adjoining stage. Melton was hurriedly learning the lines as Walter Zwart arrived and passed out copies of recent
issues of the comic book. Mary Tyler Moore happened to mention that she wasn't happy with Laura's wardrobe in the comic book and Zwart asked if
she could show him some of the outfits she wore on the show. He said he'd make a few sketches and pass them on to the artist.
Ten minutes later, she took him to the wardrobe department, which was otherwise deserted, and displayed several rows of capri
pants. Ms. Moore was wearing a dress at the time and Zwart talked her into modeling a pair of the pants for him. She disappeared behind a
dressing screen to change into them and when she stepped out, looking like the Laura Petrie he knew and loved, Walter Zwart dropped to one knee and
proposed marriage. Mary thought it was a pathetic joke but he pulled out an engagement ring and began telling her that Rob didn't love her the
way he did. Much of what he said was quoted from "Teacher's Petrie," an episode from the previous season — the one in which Laura's
creative writing teacher made a pass at her. Then from his portfolio, Zwart began pulling out nude paintings he'd done of Laura as "October
Eve." Horrified, Mary Tyler Moore called the studio's security force and had him ejected from the lot. It is reported that as they
carried him away, he could be heard yelling, "You can scratch my Tarantula! You can name our son Rosebud! Laura, I love you!"
Executive producer Sheldon Leonard was understandably furious. He phoned the head of Western Publishing and demanded that Zwart
be fired. Furthermore, he said, he was rescinding Western's license to publish the comic book...which, given its sales, probably did not upset
Western greatly. Only one more issue was already at the printer and it too featured a surprise from Walter Zwart.
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