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As early as 1964, I had written to K. K. Publications, the company that produced the March of Comics series, small monthly "giveaway" comic books. The March of Comics giveaways were digest-size, color comic books licensed by Gold Key Comics (Western Publishing Company), featuring their standard titles such as Roy Rogers, Yogi Bear, and Uncle Scrooge, with a different title issued every month. One Tarzan appeared every year, but not always in the same month. They contained original stories, not reprints, and artwork by the regular artists. The Tarzan issues were drawn mainly by Jesse Marsh, with some later ones by Russ Manning. Like most giveaways, they were hard to find.
I had been obtaining copies from the most common outlet, different shoe stores in the Pittsburgh area. I was in luck to receive Tarzan No. 84, in 1952, the current issue at that time. Of course I had no idea if there were earlier Tarzan numbers. Many years later I learned that No. 84 was the first Tarzan title.
When I wrote to K. K. Publications in 1964, they agreed to sell me as many copies as I wanted. This was a special arrangement with them, since their usual contracts were for a year's supply to business customers, usually shoe stores or Sears, to purchase a minimum of 200 copies each month.
Each year they sent me a sales brochure that scheduled the 12 titles for the following year. I started buying 30 copies of each Tarzan title (one Tarzan issue each year ) but later increased my order to 50 copies.
I would then sell copies to Tarzan fans for 40 cents each. In effect, I became the distributor for these in Tarzan fandom. Today these giveaway comic books sell for many times my 1964 prices. Looking back, I should have purchased many more copies and could now be able to sell them at a much lower price than the various price guides are listing. But that is hindsight. All of us fans could have done that with the early comic books, and Burroughs first editions.
On a business trip to an IBM office in Poughkeepsie, New York, in June of 1967, I took time out to visit the K.K. Publishing factory, which really was Western Publishing Company.
I met Ethel Strid, the Assistant Manager, whom I had been dealing with by mail. She was most gracious in her welcome and with her time. She arranged a very interesting plant tour, conducted by the manager. The Poughkeepsie plant printed all the Gold Key and K. K. comic titles. They also printed multicolored road maps for various gasoline companies and covers for paperback books.
Our business relationship continued until 1972, when No. 366, the last Tarzan title, was issued. (The March of Comics series ended with Little Lulu, No. 388.)
The other big event in 1967 was the Burroughs Bibliophiles Dum-Dum, which was a luncheon held at the same time as the 25th World Science Fiction Convention in New York City, September 2. We held it at the Penn-Garden Hotel, hear the World Con site. Our guests of honor were Hal Foster and Frank Frazetta, both of whom received the silver bowl (The Golden Lion Award).
Each gave a well-received speech that included references to their art work related to Tarzan and Burroughs. We had an attendance of 114 for this memorable gathering. Those famous illustrators signed many autographs that day. I managed to get Hal Foster to autograph the January 7, 1929 daily newspaper strip (his first) of Tarzan of the Apes.
Also, Bob Hodes, who was then General Manager of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., joined us. He brought a copy of ERB's newest book, I Am a Barbarian, which had been published just one day earlier (September 1, 1967) on ERB's ninety-second birthday.
None of us had seen a copy of this book before. I didn't get my copy until two weeks later, although several years earlier, on one of my Tarzana visits, Hulbert Burroughs had allowed me to read the manuscript.
As an unfortunate side note to this Dum-Dum, Bob Hodes was mugged and beaten just outside the hotel the day before our luncheon. A typical New York City welcome. But he survived with no permanent damage.
As I write these memories, they almost seem to be happening to another person, because it was all so long ago. But, so much for 1967; on to 1968 in the next chapter.
Copyright (c) 1995 Clarence B. Hyde
By Bob Hyde
By popular demand ( i. e. the majority stockholders of Three from Thuria), I was requested to refrain from continuing my "Odyssey" for this submission. Recent happenings were deemed more acceptable at this time. Some people think I will not live long enough to finish writing my "Odyssey." So, instead of Chapter XVII (1957-58), I'll fast-forward to late 1989, which would probably be about "Odyssey" - Chapter LXX.
To honor the 75th anniversary of the first publication of a hard-cover novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, the "Normal Beans" of Chicago -- Alan M. Freedman, Mitchell H. Harrison, and Thomas D. Wilishire -- organized a weekend of celebration. Chicago is the logical place for such a celebration since it all began there. Chicago was ERB's birthplace; it was where he wrote Tarzan of the Apes; and it was the location of the publisher, A. C. McClurg, and the printer, W. F. Hall.
I hadn't been able to attend the Burroughs gatherings for the last few years, but fortunately the date for this one coincided with a visit to my wife's relatives. Other attendees will no doubt write about this weekend, but we each review, and remember, it from our own personal viewpoint. In the September of my years, this weekend adventure was a standout event.
On Friday afternoon, October 20, my wife, Alice, and I arrived in Chicago after a two-hour flight delay, only to discover that my luggage had not arrived with us. So, we had another two-hour wait at the airport for the next flight from Pittsburgh with my bags. My patient sister-in-law waited for us through the whole delay.
After dinner at the in-laws, I journeyed to downtown Chicago and 3 East Ontario Street, the former studio of J. Allen St. John. This is now the studio of another artist, James Romano. James and his wife, Ruth, hosted an informal reception for the Burroughs fans. Thirty-some people were gathered there, most of whom I had not met before, although had corresponded with some of them over many years. I can't begin to list everyone who was present, but I met George McWhorter for the first time. We talked about his (then) forthcoming publication of the new Burroughs Bulletin. Later, I had an interesting discussion with Phil Farmer on his current work-in-progress: the early years of Doc Savage. Also, I was interviewed at length by Joel Cohen, a writer with Nostalgia Magazine, for an upcoming article on Burroughs fandom and collecting. He interviewed several other fans, so I'll have to wait and see how much of my view appears in the article.
Being in St. John's studio again brought back memories. Architecturally it hasn't been changed, but the Romanos have much more furniture than St. John or later, Mrs. St. John had. Of the many paintings on the walls, I could identify only two that were the works of St. John. It had been almost 45 years since he and I first talked in there. That made me feel very old, but it was good to be there again with so many admirers of ERB and St. John.
Mitch Harrison, one of the "Normal Beans," gave me a ride back to my In-laws', which ended the evening all too soon for me.
I passed, but others made a Saturday afternoon pilgrimage to Oak Park, to view the locations of three of ERB's early homes, and to see Gary Spannraft's collection.
Saturday night was the big event. The "Normal Beans" had arranged to hold the dinner at 'The Adventurers Club," not far from St. John's studio. It was a most appropriate setting for this group. Big-game trophies, including a stuffed Bolgani, along with hundreds of oddities from all over the globe, from shrunken heads to jeweled daggers, were on display. Although I was the first to arrive, it wasn't long before the room was full of Burroughs fans.
A souvenir program had been printed, with two blank pages in the back for autographs. I circulated, getting as many guests as I could to autograph my program before the dinner. I think the head count was 48, which was a good showing.
I was called upon to open the festivities by proposing a toast to the memory of the man who was responsible for all of being there. Then Tom Willshire, representing the "Normal Beans," welcomed us to Chicago, and the Adventurers Club chef, Noah Rouse, told us about the club's history, then had the dinner served. I had "Pellucidar White Fish," while others had "Barsoomian Prime Ribs."
After dinner came my biggest surprise of the evening. Mitch Harrison presented me with an engraved plaque for my "...everlasting service as a Burroughs Bibliophile, Collector and Fan." I hadn't expected anything like this, and I felt greatly honored. George McWhorter and Bill Ross also received plaques for their contributions to Burroughs fandom. Next, Tom Willshire showed us an unusual videotape he had prepared, featuring all the film Tarzans of the past 70 years, along with all the different Tarzan yells.
George then talked about his first issue of the new Burroughs Bulletin, which promises to be an outstanding publication.
Phil Farmer, the keynote speaker of the evening, discussed his involvement with Tarzan. He revealed that although he had previously reported meeting Tarzan in Africa, the meeting had actually taken place in Chicago. To conceal Tarzan's role with the British intelligence service, Farmer had to report a different location. However, the main subject of his talk was an analysis of a horoscope of Tarzan that Farmer had commissioned, based on Tarzan's birthday of Thursday, November 22, 1888, at 12:05 A. M. (under the sign of Sagittarius, the archer). Farmer did not give the astrologer the subject's name, only the birthdate and time. Tarzan's personality was accurately revealed in this analysis. Again, the evening ended all too soon for me.
But the weekend was not over. Eight of the faithful met Sunday morning for brunch, to continue our friendship. Over the food, the discussion centered on "Was it a success, and would they do it again?" The response appeared to be "yes." After the brunch, Mitch Harrison took me to see his Burroughs collection, while most of the others went back to St. John's studio to take photographs. I didn't have time to see all of Mitch's collection, but what I saw was most impressive, especially the first edition of Tarzan of the Apes in dust jacket!
My exciting current events were not over. Not long after returning from Chicago, I learned that Gray Morrow, the artist for the Tarzan Sunday page, was to be the guest of honor at a Comic-Book Convention in Monroeville Oust east of Pittsburgh) on November 18. Naturally, I wanted to meet him.
Taking two of my Tarzan Sunday-page collection books, I drove to the Monroeville Holiday Inn to attend the Convention. Since I had written to Gray several times, he recognized my name when I introduced myself to him and his wife. He autographed both of the books and agreed to draw a sketch of Tarzan for me. (Another gem that now hangs on the wall of my collection room.)
I had thought he might supply the names of more newspapers that print the Sunday Tarzan page, but he was only certain about The Asbury Park Press. Somebody told him that others existed, but he didn't have names.
He wanted a lunch break from drawing sketches and signing autographs, so he and his wife and I went to the Holiday Inn lunchroom where I asked him about his work. Since I'm not that much into the comic-book scene, I'm not familiar with all of his current projects. My impression was that most of the kids at the Con asked for sketches of Batman. Gray did tell me that he works on DC's Star Trek.
Then we got to the important stuff, as follows. He draws the Sunday Tarzan page in one day, usually doing three to five at a time; he has no contract with United Features Syndicate (UFS): he and Don Kraar both contribute to the story line (in fact, he told UFS that Kraar was available for the writing job); and he tries to use every one of the UFS 128 different coloring pens.
On the personal side, he and his wife love the outdoor life, so much that they live on a 14 acre farm with 20 animals. And finally, he read all the Tarzan novels in his youth.
I really enjoyed that lunch; it was informative and a lot of fun. When I left, Gray was on his way back to the fans and, I suppose, more sketches of Batman.
(c) Bob Hyde, 1989
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