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Back in January 2011 I received a very large, advance illustration of the ERB stamp and a request to serve as a consultant to the USPS. This I gladly did since the release of this special stamp is of great interest to all ERB fans. I helped with the text, but provided a rather scathing one-page critique of the artwork, suggesting artwork more in line with the master ERB artists from the past and present. USPS decided, however, to go with what they had already commissioned. Actually, in small image it looks a bit more acceptable.
The Edgar Rice Burroughs Commemorative Stamp.
The image before and after consultant's suggestions.
No discernable change.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE STAMP ART
On first look I am not impressed with the artwork on the stamp.
Tarzan has been depicted so well over the last 100 years by major artists:
NC Wyeth, J. Allen St. John, Harold Foster, Burne Hogarth, Russ Manning, Roy Krenkel, Frank Frazetta, et al.
. . . so there are very big shoes to fill.
Links to most of this work are found in our ERB Artists Encyclopedia:
ERB Illustrated Bibliography
Some consider the best of the current lot to be Thomas Yeates, who has just completed a graphic novel of ERB's second story - the medieval English historical novel, "The Outlaw of Torn."
Some of Yeates' work is featured at:
LAYOUT: OK. . . BUT. . .
Tarzan's anatomy and body proportions are wrong:
. . . almost as if moulded from modelling clay.
. . . Ham-fisted right hand
. . . smooth girly arm muscles
. . . club foot
. . . with tiny ankles and foreleg
. . . massive thighs
. . . overly-long left arm.
I tend to think that the artist used the Disney animated film "caricature" as his model.
He reminds me of an aging drag queen with too many failed facelifts and plastic surgery gone wrong - botched eye and nose job, etc.
The "bronze lord of the jungle" is now lily white all over.
Hair may be OK for effect . . .Tarzan kept it long, but made a point of chopping it off occasionally for practical reasons, just as he scraped off his beard with his father's hunting knife so that he would more closely resemble the "man things" he saw in the picture books in his father's cabin. . . so as to set him apart from the beasts who had raised him.
ERB fans and scholars can be a critical lot and most of them have collected and enjoyed ERB-related art for most of their lives.
FEEDBACK TO PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STAMP ART
ACCURACY OF WEAPON: NO
The knife used by Tarzan was his father's hunting knife.
The one depicted looks more like a short dagger. . . at least from the angle of view.
: Tarzan was right handed but a bit ham-fisted.
LOIN CLOTH: OK
Tarzan wore loin cloths from a variety of skins throughout the books.
Tarzan seldom if ever wore a headband.
This came from the movies, mainly with the purpose of holding the actors' fright wig in place.
It does add a nice decorative effect, however. . . matching loincloth/headband ensemble : )
Just don't put booties on him as has been done in an early film and a more recent TV series.
Tarzan's eyes were steel grey . . . as were those of all of ERB's heroes.
SKIN TONE: NO
As mentioned above, Tarzan's skin was deeply tanned and bronzed from years under the equatorial sun
. . . and toughened and scarred by many battles and survival against harsh natural elements.
DESIGN: OK BUT
As mentioned above the design/layout is good and the ERB photograph was probably a good choice, BUT:
the artist seems to have lost the real essence of the man in the portrait
. . . hint of a smile was lost, no warmth, strange eyes, etc.
The rugged "man's man" appears to be on the verge of tears.
OTHER CHARACTERS: ???
I realize that the stamp will be very small but was there any thought of incorporating some of his other famous characters/worlds into the illustrations
. . . or even issuing a series of stamps?
The worlds of ERB are depicted in the illustration we used on www.tarzan.com
The original of that piece of art hangs in the ERB, Inc. office in Tarzana, courtesy of Richard Lupoff
Art by Al Williamson and Reed Crandall
I hope I haven't been too negative in my observations, really only a truthful "one-man's-opinion".
Of course everyone will have his own image of how Tarzan should look - since he has been depicted in so many ways in book illustrations, pulps, comics, film, TV, commercials, animations, etc.
I, and millions, are very excited about this special tribute to the Master of Fantasy Adventure and the Grandfather of American Science Fiction.
PREVIOUS STAMP-RELATED FEATURES IN ERBzine
UPS Early Releases ~ Feedback ~ Reviews ~ Accompanying Bio
ERB-Related Stamps Around the World
2004 Request for a Commemorative Stamp for Edgar Rice Burroughs from Tarzana | Alt
Johnny Weissmuller Stamp Exhibit reported in Gridley Wave 313
US Postal Service's first US commemorative stamp set and picture postcards: Columbian Exposition 1893
Jasoomian Editor Bill Dutcher's 1971 Campaign for an Edgar Rice Burroughs Commemorative Stamp
ERBzine News 2004: Use Your Own ERB Photo On a Stamp
ERBzine News 2007:
Museum of the San Fernando Valley's effort to pursuade USPS to issue
a 4-stamp block celebrating the genius of the Burroughs family.
ERBzine News: Harlan Ellison Questions Why No Stamp for ERB ~ LA Times 1997
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