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EARLY YEARS: '30s
ERB was a pioneer in the use of 20th Century media to showcase his imaginative creations: pulp mags, newspapers serializations, motion pictures (silent, b/w, serials, cinemascope, digital, Internet), radio, television, animation, the formation of Tarzan youth clubs, advertising campaigns and merchandising of all types (Signal Oil, action figures, comic book premiums, toys, trading cards, etc.). Reprinted compilations of the 1929 Tarzan daily strips and following Sunday pages were actually some of the world's first comic books: G&D hardcover reprints and Big Little Books evolved into the more traditional comic book format that really hasn't changed that much since the '30s. Burroughs' creations have had a tremendous influence on comics in general. Indeed, long before Superman, the man of steel, was hatched by Schuster and Siegel, earthman John Carter was leaping Martian buildings in a single bound and using his Terran superpowers to conquer Barsoomian bad guys.
The 1929 Harold Foster adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes was one of the very first adventure story comics to appear in newspapers. It ushered in an exciting era of SF/Adventure in strips and eventually the birth of the fledgling comic magazines or BOOKS as they soon came to be called. Of all media forms embraced by the innovative Burroughs, Comic Books -- and their close cousins and predecessors, the newspaper comic strips -- have consistently been the most faithful to the Burroughs image of Tarzan.
The presence of ERB's creations in comics, and indeed in 20th Century media in general, makes for a fascinating, but extremely complex study which mirrors the moods, events and mores of Western culture over the last century. Anyone who attempts to ride and tame this multi-tentacled wild beast soon realizes that it is a task worthy of the legendary talents of Lord Greystoke or John Carter. Being mere mortals -- Tarak, the Tawny-Haired Barbarian excepted -- the members of this panel can only hope to touch on a few of the highlights of this cultural phenomenon.
The first artist to present an image of Tarzan -- other than perhaps ERB himself -- was Clinton Pettee on the cover of ALL-STORY pulp magazine which introduced Tarzan of the Apes to the world in 1912. This fairly accurate depiction of the apeman locked in mortal combat with Numa, the lion, obviously influenced countless future artistic renderings -- in pulps, newspapers, movie ads, strips, and comics.
FIRST TARZAN DAILY STRIP (Jan 1929) ~ Tarzan of the Apes adapted by Harold Foster
These 60 daily episodes were collated and printed in
ILLUSTRATED TARZAN BOOK No. 1:
PICTURIZED FROM THE NOVEL TARZAN OF THE APES by EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
This was Grosset and Dunlap hardcover book -- certainly a forerunner of the comic book which would be born a few years later.
FIRST TARZAN COLOR SUNDAY PAGE - (March 1931)
This landmark page was drawn by Rex Maxon who had taken over the Tarzan daily strip and then worked for a 6-month trial period on the Sundays. Harold Foster was then called back to replace Maxon. Maxon carried on with the B/W dailies.
COMIC STRIP REPRINTS (Early '30s)
A flood of comic strip reprints, in a multitude of fomats, soon appeared before the format of the comic book as we have come to know it arose from the melee.
TIP TOP COMICS
A United Features April 1936 - June 1941 series reprinting strips. (68 pp - 10 cents)
Most issues featured Tarzan (Hal Foster colour Sunday page reprints) (A "T" indicates a featured Tarzan cover)
1T, 2T, 3T, 4-8, 9T, 10, 11T, 12, 13T, 14, 15, 16T, 17, 18T, 19, 20, 21T, 22, 23, 24T, 25, 26, 27T, 28, 29, 30T, 31, 32T, 33T, 34T, 35, 36T, 37T, 38, 39T, 40, 41T, 42, 43T, 44, 45T, 46, 47T, 48, 49, 50T 51, 52T, 53-62
Tarzan appeared again in the series from #171 Nov/Dec 1951 thru #188 Sept/Oct 1954.
COMICS ON PARADE
This comic book was published by United Feature Syndicate from April 1938 through to August 1940 (Issues 1-28). It featured reprints of popular strips of the day. The first 29 issues each included five pages of Tarzan colored daily strips. Tarzan was featured on the covers of issues: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 17.
Foster's "Tarzan of the Apes" appeared in issues 1-7.
Maxon's "The Return of Tarzan" appeared in issues 7-13.
Maxon's "The Beasts of Tarzan appeared in issues 13-22.
Maxon's "The Son of Tarzan" appeared in issues 22-29.
TARZAN SINGLE SERIES #20 reprinted 64 Tarzan Sunday pages mainly from Tip-Top 1-13.
This Dell series ran from issue 1 (June 1938) through 43 (January 1942) Tarzan was featured in many of the issues. Nos. 15-25, 27-36.
Featured condensed text of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle with new illustrations Nos. 38-43 (1939).