John Coleman Burroughs is the son of Edgar Rice Burroughs and a renowned artist. In recent years he has been very ill but with the help of medicine he is showing great improvement.
During our visit Jack was working on a beautiful drawing of Kala the ape, and baby Tarzan. It was quite a drawing. It had the master's touch to it!
I happened to have my girl friend, Chun Cha Pae along with me on each visit. Jack was taken with her looks and her charm and used her to model for a colored chalk drawing. It was a truly beautiful drawing and very much like the facial drawings he is so famous for. The following is an interview we had with Jack and I think you will find it not only interesting but very witty in some places:
INTERVIEWER: When and where were you born?
JCB: I was born in Chicago, Illinois in February 1913 the same month that my dad, Edgar Rice Burroughs, decided to make his career writing.
INT: Did your dad dedicate any of his books to you?
JCB: Yes! A PRINCESS OF MARS (1917) and with my brother and sister THE TARZAN TWINS.
INT: Could you tell us about your youth?
JCB: I was raised on my father's 500 acre ranch. In the San Fernando Valley, near Hollywood, CA. The ranch is now a township known as TARZANA.
INT: Is it true that you liked to play like Tarzan when you were a youngster?
JCB: Yes, I used to pretend I was Tarzan! I used to follow people by sniffing their footprints, not their feet! I gave this up after a while due to the obvious complications while living at the ranch where chickens and other livestock were running loose.
INT: Could you tell us something abut your schooling?
JCB: I attended Private Schools as a youngster. Then Van Nuys High School. I majored in art at Pomona College thru scholarships and graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. Some of my art instructors were: Nicolai Fechin, Elmer Schofield, Thomas Beggs, Frederic Taubes and Bur Proctor.
INT: Have you read all of your father's stories and could you tell me which character you liked the best in his stories.
JCB: Yes! I have read all my dad's stories. I think the most interesting character he created was "Esmeralda."
INT: Could you tell us something of your career in art?
JCB: I've written and illustrated stories for fantasy and science fiction magazines. I'm a book illustrator; I was the artist and writer for a nationally syndicated newspaper strip; I was a motion picture studio illustrator and sketch artist for Warner Brothers and Universal Studios.
INT: Have you displayed any of your work at art shows?
JCB: Mostly at Penny Peep Shows! Also, one man-shows and gallery exhibitions in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Illinois.
INT: Didn't you do some comic book work, too?
JCB: Yes! From 1939 to 1941 I did an illustrated version of the first Mars book for THE FUNNIES comic book, and started AT THE EARTH'S CORE for HI-SPOT comic book in 1940.
INT: What are some of the stories you have written.
JCB: Hulbert and I wrote THE MAN WITHOUT A WORLD in 1939; THE LIGHTNING MEN in 1940; THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD in 1941. Also, I wrote a book with my wife, Jane Ralston Burroughs, titled HYBRID OF HORROR. Later on I wrote the book TREASURE OF THE BLACK FALCON.
INT: Your Dad seemed to be very proud of your art work. Did he work with you for the illustrations to his books?
JCB: My dad was very happy when I decided to work on illustrations and dust jackets to his books. We both worked on the illustrations and dust jackets to his books. We both worked on the illustrations and we had many consultations concerning them.
INT: Where you interested in ERB, Inc. when you were younger?
JCB: Oh yes! I worked with dad on illustrations to his book and even worked on a JOHN CARTER movie back in the 1930s. Right now I'm President of ERB, Inc.
INT: Could you list the books you illustrated for your dad?
JCB: The Oakdale Affair and The Rider
Back to the Stone Age
The Lad and the Lion
Tarzan and the Forbidden City
Carson of Venus
Official Guide of the Tarzan Clans
Tarzan the Magnificent
Synthetic Men of Mars
The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche Country
Land of Terror
Escape on Venus
Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion"
Llana of Gathol
INT: Have you used any models for anay of these illustrations?
JCB: Yes! I've used my children, friends and some professional models. I used Hulbert Burroughs and Joan Pierce for TARZAN AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY and Jim Pierce and Jane Ralston Burroughs for OAKDALE AFFAIR and the RIDER.
INT: What is some of your other art work about?
JCB: I liked to do Mexican and Indian types, coloured children, Polynesians, desert scenes, western landscapes, and marines.
INT: Have you done much sculpturing?
JCB: I have done some heads, John Carter, and Tars Tarkas. Plus I have reconstructed some saber tooth tigers.
INT: I understand that at one time you were going to do a Tarzan and John Carter motion picture cartoon?
JCB: Yes! Back in the 1930s. Bob Clampett and I worked on a full-length version in cartoon form of PRINCESS OF MARS. If we had sold it it would have been the first full-length serious cartoon ever produced. Long before Walt Disney began SNOW WHITE. The TARZAN cartoon was to be a short. TARZAN would be serious in it but the animals would do all the comedy. In the end TARZAN saved many animals. I'm sorry to say that neither sold. Bob Clampett and I went to school together. Bob has most of the art work for these stored away.
INT: I thought your book TREASURE OF THE BLACK FALCON was very good. Could you tell us something about how you wrote it, etc.
JCB: I wrote TREASURE OF THE BLACK FALCON over twenty years ago and it was rejected then. I put it away and forgot about it. Hulbert asked if he could send it to Ballantine paperback books and after twenty years it was accepted.
INT: How many children do you have?
JCB: I have two sons, Danton Burroughs and John Burroughs.
I wish to thank everyone who made this interview possible -- Danton Burroughs and john Coleman Burroughs mainly! It was a real treat to meet Jack and I hope he'll ask me back many times.
John Coleman Burroughs and son Danton Burroughs
John Coleman Burroughs with Choo-Choo and Bill Dutcher
John Coleman Burroughs' two sons:
Danton on the left, who is a valuable member of ERB, Inc.,
and John who is a carpenter and married to a German girl
who owns a poodle grooming shop in Tarzana.
Chun Cha Heskett
Model for John Coleman Burroughs'
John Coleman Burroughs
consulting with his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERB on the set of THE SON OF TARZAN
with his three children: John Coleman - Joan - Hulbert
Dated August 7, 1920. From the Doug Elmo Brooks Collection.
From the Hillman ERB Collection
See the entire booklets at:
John Coleman Burroughs was commissioned in 1943 by Douglas Aircraft Co., Inc. to produce a booklet to cut down on accidents at their company plants. There are some very distinctive illustrations in it reminding one of the EC Horror comics. The name of the booklet is "X Marks The Spot." It is an extremely rare booklet since it is 30 years old and people usually don't keep this sort of thing. I luckily own a copy and have reproduced two of the forty pages above.
Since it was done during the War years (WW II) the enemy is shown benefiting from careless workers mistakes. The Nazis and Japanese are depicted as toads, lizards and rats, and even as a Thark. Some of the gory details show careless employees getting their hair caught in machinery; choking to death on caught neckties, having your hand grind off because of a ring; burning eyes from looking at the light of an arc welder; smashing and cutting your hands with hand tools; cutting off fingers in a saw; having an arm pulled off by a machine when adjusting a belt; plus many others. It is quite an imaginative and artistic booklet.
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