Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Paleoart: the strange history of dinosaurs in art
– in pictures
Since the early 19th century, artists have depicted
colourful – if sometimes fictional –
dinosaurs and prehistoric environments, mingling science
with unbridled fantasy.
This art is the subject of a new book: Paleoart
Dorothy Dalburg was a close friend of Joan Burroughs Pierce
and the Burroughs family.
When her marriage started to dissolve
she leaned upon Ed and the Burroughs family for support.
Dorothy Dalburg and family
Dorothy - A Close Friend of ERB
1945: April 13: LETTER
to Dorothy Dahlberg. Obviously a romance is blooming.
Tarzan the Untamed. . .
on film ? :)
How many of you would like to see the movie, "Tarzan the
Untamed"? I think we would all like to see that movie, but we can't.
And Gomer Pyle wasn't able to see it either because he was roped
in to taking the colonel's daughter to a dance. Watch about three and a
half minutes of this episode, "A
Date for the Colonel's Daughter," from Nov. 27, 1964, to find out what
Gomer (Jim Nabors) was looking forward to seeing in the movie.
TARZAN FOREVER ~ Scribner
The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan
By John Taliaferro ~ April 11, 1999
Surely everyone agrees that the most thrilling line in popular
literature is "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"
(If you don't recognize this sentence from The Hound of the Baskervilles,
you now know what to read on your next holiday.) That said, the final sentences
of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan of the Apes are as perfectly noble,
simple and heartbreaking as -- what? Hamlet's dying words? Plato's valedictory
praise of Socrates at the end of the Phaedo? It seems ludicrous to suggest
such comparisons, but they are the ones that come to mind.
Remember the situation: Even though Jane Porter loves
Tarzan, she feels honor-bound to marry William Cecil Clayton, nice-guy
heir to the Greystoke title and fortune. At this moment, Tarzan receives
an unexpected telegram from his friend D'Arnot: "Fingerprints prove you
Greystoke. Congratulations." Clayton then appears. "Here was the man who
had Tarzan's title, and Tarzan's estates, and was going to marry the woman
whom Tarzan loved -- the woman who loved Tarzan. A single word from Tarzan
would make a great difference in this man's life." At which point, the
cordially bluff Clayton suddenly asks: "If it's any of my business, how
the devil did you ever get into that bally jungle?" To which comes the
answer, the hushed last words of the novel:
" `I was born there,' said Tarzan, quietly. `My mother
was an Ape, and of course she couldn't tell me much about it. I never knew
who my father was.' "
Curtain. Fade out. Notice though how deftly Burroughs
makes you sense an ever so slight pause just before the last sentence.
In that split-second, we realize, Tarzan decides to sacrifice . . . everything.
I can still remember how the tears ran down my 12-year-old cheeks.
Do kids still care for the Tarzan books? Certainly for
the 50 years after 1912, when the ape man first appeared in All-Story magazine,
he must have been the most famous literary creation in the world, except
for Sherlock Holmes. But it's been a long time since I heard a boy give
a Tarzan victory yell. Everyone certainly knows about the Lord of the Jungle,
and the movies with Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O'Sullivan live in our
memories, but I suspect that the actual novels -- Tarzan the Terrible,
The Beasts of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Lion Man -- are starting to seem as
dated (and as little read) as books about Ruritania and Graustark. I had
myself thought to reread some of these after finishing John Taliaferro's
fast-moving, utterly engrossing biography of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but
didn't quite dare to violate the memories of long-ago bliss. After all,
Tarzan was the hero of my childhood. Everyone I knew yearned to have a
pet like Jad Bal Ja, the golden lion. We all practiced swinging from tree
branches and thumping our chests. And it was inevitably La, the nerve-tinglingly
sexy ruler of Opar, who troubled my adolescent dreams. No, I wouldn't tempt
In fact, as Taliaferro makes clear, it would be hard to
read Burroughs today without feeling uncomfortable, to say the least, about
his shoddy portrayal of Africans as barbaric subhumans, his xenophobic
hatred of the Germans (World War I) and the Japanese (World War II), his
enthusiasm for eugenics coupled with an undisguised horror of miscegenation,
the repeated threats of brutal rape to his heroines, and an all-round gung-ho
militarism. And yet, despite all these reprehensible attitudes, Burroughs
comes across as a surprisingly attractive man. How can this be?
For one thing, he was no artsy prima donna. Like his hero
Jack London, Burroughs experienced a lot of life before becoming a writer.
Because he was born to a moderately well-to-do Chicago businessman in 1875,
young Ed traveled east to spend a year at Phillips Andover, then transferred
to Michigan Military Academy, and was eventually admitted to West Point
-- but failed the entrance exam. Undaunted, he enlisted in the army and
was posted to the bloody Seventh Cavalry in Arizona Territory, where he
briefly pursued Apache outlaws. Later he worked as a rancher and gold miner,
then ran a stationery store and newsstand, temporarily joined his father's
battery company, took a job as a railroad depot policeman, actually "sold
electric light bulbs to janitors, candy to drug stores and Stoddard's Lectures
from door to door," succeeded as head of the stenographic department at
Sears, Roebuck but quit to start his own advertising agency, and finally
found himself, on the edge of poverty, franchising a line of pencil sharpeners.
At 37, hoping to earn a little extra money for his wife and children, this
jack of all trades discovered he was the master of one: He started writing
a novel, A Princess of Mars, the first in his planetary romances about
the swashbuckling adventures of John Carter on the red planet known to
its inhabitants as Barsoom.
Amazingly, within a year and a half Burroughs followed
this stunning debut with Tarzan of the Apes and At the Earth's Core, this
latter the opening installment of his Pellucidar novels about a savage
civilization, dominated by the reptilian Mahars, at the center of the earth.
"Entertainment is fiction's purpose," asserted Burroughs, as he took his
place among the world's great storytellers.
But as Taliaferro emphasizes, ERB hoped to be regarded
as a Writer too, and before long was yearning to break out of the pulps
into the glossy world of the Saturday Evening Post and similar magazines.
Surprisingly, Burroughs never made it. Instead, he usually had to supply
in crude quantity what he lacked in literary quality. So this talented
hack churned out hundreds of thousands of words a year, producing realistic
fiction about a Chicago tough (The Mucker), Western stories (War Chief),
semi-autobiographical novels about Southern California (The Girl From Hollywood),
a series starring Carson of Venus and, of course, some 24 Tarzan books,
11 Barsoom novels, and a half-dozen adventures set in Pellucidar.
Yet even while writing like a machine (or dictating to
a machine, as he was later to do), Burroughs was simultaneously building
a one-man multimedia empire. He incorporated himself. He demanded top dollar
from magazine editors and skillfully played off one against another. He
negotiated his own serial, reprint and movie rights. He invested in various
business ventures (airplane motors) and helped finance a movie company.
At the height of his prosperity, he actually bought the palatial home of
Harrison Gray Otis, the deceased editor of the Los Angeles Times, and with
a flourish renamed this 550-acre San Fernando Valley estate Tarzana. For
five years Burroughs flourished there like a Spanish grandee, but a lavish
lifestyle, the occasional "breakout" book that never went anywhere, and
poor investments eventually made him subdivide and sell much of his property.
Despite his best efforts to free himself, Burroughs was forced to remain
a slave to the typewriter almost until the end of his life.
Taliaferro describes all this with gusto, and often with
considerable flair (of Chicago: "No other American city has inspired more
eloquent metaphors of barbarism"). Not only does he discuss Burroughs's
entire career, he also places the man and work in context. Kipling's Mowgli,
the Wild Boy of Aveyron, a nation-wide passion for physical culture, Victorian
accounts of African exploration, the myth of Romulus and Remus, the science
of evolution and the pseudo-science of racial superiority -- all these,
he shows us, contributed to the creation of Tarzan. And because Burroughs
was as much a businessman as a mythmaker, Taliaferro discusses the writer's
real estate adventures, his attempts to shape the movie image of Tarzan,
and his marketing of Tarzan comics, radio shows and souvenirs. Constant
work was the law of his life -- at least until his mid-sixties, when Burroughs
suddenly left his overweight, alcoholic wife and took up with a beautiful
blonde half his age. The couple moved to Hawaii, where the aging novelist
tried surfing. As he used to say, "It's a great life if you don't weaken."
Burroughs never precisely weakened, but he quickly took
to repeating himself, and his earliest books remain his most satisfying.
As Taliaferro acutely remarks of Tarzan and the Ant Men (and by implication
of many of the other 90 or so novels), "Burroughs is at his best at the
beginning, plunging into a new world as if he himself is the one penetrating
the thicket and discovering the next mysterious land. But once the stage
is set, the actors costumed, and the curtain raised, his authorial excitement
diminishes, and the drama settles into a churning sort of action, recycled
and predictable. Capture, escape, capture again, rebellion, freedom . .
. " By 1923 "Burroughs, by his own accounting, had `said all there is to
say about Tarzan seven or eight times.' " Taliaferro adds dryly: "He would
have shuddered then to know that he would do it at least a dozen times
When we study literature, we turn to the artists -- Joyce
or Fitzgerald, Proust or Ellison. But to understand storytelling, we must
also honor another strain of writing, that represented by Zane Grey, Erle
Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Isaac Asimov, John D. MacDonald, Stephen
King, Nora Roberts. For half of the 20th century Edgar Rice Burroughs was
the lord of this jungle, and Tarzan Forever provides a first-rate guide
to his colorful life and achievement.
The Company That Time Will Never Forget:
A Visit to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Incorporated
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Posted by Ryan Harvey in Black Gate Blog
ERB Inc Thark StatueIn the waning days of March 2013,
I made a trip I should’ve taken years before. I’ve lived in Los Angeles
since I was four, became a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs in my teens, but
never thought about taking the jaunt on the I-405 into the Valley to visit
the office of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. I knew the office was there; that
part of the Valley didn’t get the name “Tarzana” by accident. But it wasn’t
until after working for three years writing numerous articles about Burroughs’s
books and movies based on them that I realized the opportunity in plain
sight — actually, over the hill. I looked up the company’s website, found
a phone number, and gave the office a call, wondering what might come of
it. A pleasant-sounding woman answered the phone, and after I provided
her only a sentence of explanation (ERB fan, live in L.A., would like to
write something about the company for an online magazine), she cheerfully
told me to call the president of the company, James J. Sullos Jr., and
gave me his cell phone number. Another call later — and a half-hour of
quality fan talk with Mr. Sullos — and I had an appointment to come out
to the offices and have lunch with him and Cathy Wilbanks, the company
archivist and executive assistant.
What follows is a brief record of that delayed visit.
I would love to present myself to you as ERB often did, a fictional version
of Ryan Harvey who discovered this account in a bottle that washed ashore
from Caspak, or communicated via Gridley Wave from Helium on Mars. But
no, it was just me, a humble fan who took some notes and stared in awe
at… well, I’ll get to that.
Fifty-three years have passed since the death of the man
who created Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and the inverse world of Pellucidar.
The brain that launched millions of dreams in readers all over the world
stopped abruptly on the morning of 19 March 1950, as Burroughs was sitting
in bed, looking over the Sunday comics section. All Burroughs fans like
to think he was reading the Tarzan strip at the time.
“Fifty-two years ago an Army doctor gave me six months
to live, and I’ll bet the goddamn old drunk has been dead for twenty years,”
Burroughs wrote in a letter to a military buddy in 1948. But could the
grand old progenitor of pulp literature have foreseen that even more time
than that would pass after his death and the company he started to oversee
his creations would still be going — and in the same building where he
Burroughs was one of the first authors to incorporate
himself. On 26 March 1923 — exactly ninety years and one day before I made
my visit — he formed Edgar Rice Burroughs, Incorporated. Although Burroughs
had a history of failed business ventures before he discovered his talent
as a dreamer on paper, he still took a businessman’s approach to his new
career. This is an unexpected combination: we tend to think pure creativity
should be divorced from the mundane concerns of handling lucre, but ERB
was a man who could do both without one staining the other. If it were
only money that Burroughs cared about, ERB Inc. wouldn’t still be sitting
where it is today, and I doubt I would have much to write about the man
or his work.
ERB Inc. is unusual in the fiction writing landscape.
Most late, great authors leave behind a birthplace or some other old residence
for fans to remember them, while the handling of their work passes to a
separate company, agency, or family member. But Burroughs left behind his
own business that continues in the same spot it always has, creating a
rare continuity of past and present. The corporation still belongs to his
descendants, and in a world where “corporation” has come to stand for soullessness
and avarice, ERB Inc. is an amicable and joyful island that celebrates
the imagination and skill of its founder. The staff still must deal with
the displeasures of the business world, such as copyright infringement
(Tarzan attracts plenty of this), but the atmosphere here is one that no
writer could deny bursts with the electricity of creativity.
Burroughs established the company office in 1927 on one
of the lots he owned in what was then Reseda. A visitor might imagine the
charming house started life as a private home and then was converted to
commercial use, but from its inception this place has always held ERB Inc.
In the year the company moved to its permanent location, Ventura Blvd.
was still an unpaved road with gravel shoulders, and Burroughs could ride
a horse to work from his nearby Tarzana Ranch. Now the office is a half-hour
drive up the snarled 405 freeway, where traffic construction is a daily
exercise. But if the current environment is nothing Burroughs would recognize,
his company remains much as he left it.
Looking at the office from across the busy six-lane swath
of Ventura Blvd., it looks like the Residential Home That Time Forgot.
The one-story Spanish-style building hides behind a vine-covered wall and
a lush garden with a large mulberry tree at the center. To one side sits
an auto-repair shop and a lounge with an orange traffic horse sign beckoning
people to kick the habit with electronic cigarettes. On the other side
lies a strip of businesses including two alternative medicine practices,
a personal training center, and the Valley’s most common and ephemeral
of commercial endeavors, the nail salon. On the other side of the street,
in Tarzana Square, is the first Blockbuster Video I had seen in a year.
It is likely the next business to go extinct while ERB, Inc. continues.
Few people who enter the strip mall parking lot of Tarzana
Square will know that this section of the San Fernando Valley was named
after Tarzan, or that across the street is the office of Tarzan’s creator,
where a staff of five handles the many off-shoots of the fiction empire
he built (such as the revamped company website). Maybe they know that the
hair salon where Britney Spears whacked off her locks in a moment of cultural
irrelevance is on this block. One local business knows its roots: a pleasant
restaurant called the Greystoke Grill, where a rug with Christopher Lambert
in his Ape Man pose welcomes you as you step inside. Not the Tarzan actor
I would have picked, but maybe it was the easiest color image to find.
When I walked up to front door of ERB Inc., passing under
a low porch where I could imagine Burroughs on a deck chair sipping a cool
drink and discussing the latest MGM Tarzan offering with his secretary
and business manager, Ralph Rothmund, I was struck with conflicting emotions:
was I passing into the sanctuary of a great artist or approaching a private
home? Also in the back of my mind: Burroughs’s ashes are buried beneath
the mulberry tree in the center of the lush front yard (although at the
time of his death, there was a walnut tree there instead).
Stepping inside the office will give any pulp lover a
moment of sensory overload that not even the biggest convention hall could
beat. Original paintings from dust jackets, book interiors, magazine covers,
comic strips, comic books, and movie posters hang on any available space.
Where there are no illustrations, there are bookshelves packed with the
spines of Burroughs’s gargantuan output, reproduced in hundreds of versions
from across the globe. On the desks stand statues and other pieces of three-dimensional
artwork celebrating the Lord of the Jungle and the denizens of Barsoom.
A towering Thark armed for battle against the Warhoons guards the desk
of the archivist in the center room. And that desk: it’s an original, one
that Burroughs himself worked on.
During the hours I was in the office, I never quite adapted
to the amount of information coming from every inch of wall or table space.
(Me: “Look! There’s the dictionary stand from ERB’s Pocatello, Idaho store
[a stationery store he ran in 1898]!” Jim Sullos: “Yes, and the dictionary
on it is opened to the entry on ‘Tarzan.’”)
The office could double as an art gallery; nowhere else
have I come across so many originals from the great illustrators of fantasy.
ERB’s work inspired some of the finest artwork in the history of genre
literature, something any fan knows just from glancing at paperback covers.
But it never hit me so powerfully as in these rooms, where numerous originals
decorate every space not filled with the writing that inspired them. The
first edition cover paintings for The Moon Maid and Tarzan and the Jewels
of Opar hang beside each other behind Jim Sullos’s desk. The Frank Frazetta
originals include the covers for Lost on Venus and the astonishing Out
of Time’s Abyss (also used for Land of Terror), which were given to ERB
Inc. by Donald Wollheim of Ace Books. (Me: “Hey, is that the original J.
Allen St. John painting for the cover of The Moon Maid?” Jim Sullos: “Yes,
it is.” Me: “Huh.” I don’t know what else I could have said about that.)
The entrance room has illustrations from Czech artist
Zdenek Burian. Burian is not as well-known an ERB artist as Frazetta, St.
John, or Whelan; but he did remarkable work. (See this page for the examples
hanging on the walls of the front office.) The logo for ERB Inc., a Roy
Krenkel painting of Tarzan astride the golden lion Jad-bal-ja, also hangs
in the front room. Danton Burroughs, ERB’s grandson and former president
of the company, wrote that Krenkel was a “key factor in the 1960s revival
of my grandfather’s writings,” and it is appropriate to have this image
headline the company ERB founded.
Perhaps the final kicker in the artwork department: an
original N. C. Wyeth painting used for The Return of Tarzan when it first
appeared in Blue Book.
Of course, books are everywhere. The front room has the
familiar paperbacks from my generation of Tarzan readers, and Cathy Wilbanks
and I agreed that the Ballantine 1970s editions of the Tarzan novels, the
ones with the black spines and borders, many with spectacular Neal Adams
illustrations, are our personal favorites. I locate the edition of The
Land That Time Forgot that was the first Burroughs book I bought with my
own money. Later, I found the paperback edition of Tarzan of the Apes that
sealed the deal for me as a Burroughs Bibliophile.
Jim Sullos’s office, the largest of the rooms, contains
the oldest books, many of them first editions from when ERB Inc. was also
a publisher. I have seen and held many elder editions of Mr. Burroughs’s
books, but rarely do they have what these have: the dust jackets. Cathy
described the difficulty in getting early hardback editions with the dust
jackets. “Back then, people just thought of them as wrapping paper and
tossed them out right after they bought the book. They had no idea the
dust jacket could one day triple the value of the book.” This makes me
feel stronger about the 1924 copy of The Gods of Mars that I own, which
has a dust jacket in horrible condition… but it does have the dust jacket!
Seated at a table in Mr. Sullos’s office, talking to him
and Cathy, felt like chatting with Edgar Rice Burroughs enthusiasts. There
was no sense of awkwardness that I was merely a fan swinging past a corporate
office. Burroughs is a living presence in that room, and not just because
the walls are lined with editions of every book he wrote, or that hanging
on the walls are original J. Allen St. John and Frank Frazetta paintings.
It simply feels that the people who work here expect Ed to walk through
the back door, straw Panama hat on his head and dust from the horse ride
on his boots, and genially ask how they’re all doing. Although the employees
today never knew Edgar Rice Burroughs when he was alive, they would no
doubt find it easy to talk to him as if they were lifetime friends. I’m
sure Ed would be pleased to discover his old writing desk still waiting
Burroughs’s descendants still own the company, and even
though no family member was in the office the day I was visiting, the sensation
of family is powerful. But there is also a touch of tragedy. Danton Burroughs,
ERB’s grandson by his son Jack, served as president of the company for
many years, but he died abruptly from heart failure in 2008 at age sixty-three
— only a day after a fire at his home destroyed a large amount of family
memorabilia. Danton’s death came at a time of major change in the company:
that very day he was to be named Chairman of ERB Inc., with Jim Sullos
moving into the role of president. “We expected at least ten more years
with him,” Jim told me, also remarking that the stress of the fire probably
contributed to Danton’s death: he was collector and deeply attached to
his grandfather’s legacy. Cathy added that even five years later, they
miss him every day.
As we talked, the conversation turned to Burroughs’s appeal
that continues to stretch across the generations. Jim pointed out that
there is so much happening in his books (he picked Son of Tarzan as a good
example — that is a busy book), so many ideas, that readers can’t help
but tumble into this creative tsunami. But where did these ideas come from?
How did this man, who showed no inclination toward creativity before penning
A Princess of Mars, become, in the words of Ray Bradbury displayed on the
company website, “The most important author of the twentieth century?”
Nobody, not even Burroughs if he walked into the room
to join us like I expected, could answer that. But I explained to Jim and
Cathy what personally draws me to Burroughs today: His writing always gives
readers something to think about beyond the basic plot and action. This
is why I find ERB such a fascinating author to write about; my mind starts
clicking furiously as his action-packed plots roar along. You rarely find
this quality in thrillers of any stripe today, which are as disposable
as candy wrappers after you’ve eaten your sugary treat. Or, dust jackets
to folks in the 1920s.
I learned new information from talking to Jim and Cathy,
such as that it was Emma, Burroughs’s first wife, who forced him to bring
Jane Porter back to life after Burroughs killed her off in Tarzan the Untamed.
(The author found a way around that later: he simply ignored Jane for a
whole stretch of books.) There are also various movie projects kicking
around: a complete screenplay adaptation of The Outlaw of Torn has toured
Hollywood. Unfortunately, the word right now is that the Ridley Scott Robin
Hood has soured the studios on medieval adventure. I also discovered that
the new Tarzan series from Andy Briggs has finally found a U.S. publisher
a few years after the first U.K. publication. Fantastic: I’ve purchased
them all now and you can expect to hear more about them soon.
The talk eventually turned, of course, to the recent John
Carter movie. Disney has a few years left to decide whether to renew the
rights or let them revert back to the family. Jim asked me straight if
I thought The Gods of Mars will happen, and I wished I could have answered
with greater hope. After reading John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood,
the recent book detailing how Disney fumbled the film, it is difficult
to stay optimistic about future Mars movies. But there is some positive
news about the reception of John Carter. Cathy told me that her thirteen-year-old
daughter loved John Carter when she saw it in a packed theater with fans
for a special December screening. Yes, these are the young people who need
to get Burroughs into their blood!
There was more to see outside the office. After lunch,
Jim gave me a short tour of the land ERB once owned and the Tarzana Ranch,
the home Burroughs bought in 1919. It was originally built by Harrison
Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times and a key figure in the Owens
Valley Water Scandal. When Burroughs purchased the 4,500-square-foot house,
he also bought 550 acres around it, the lots that would become Tarzana,
CA when an independent post office opened there 1930. To the west of the
ranch house hill sits the El Caballero Country Club, another Burroughs-founded
business, although like most of the land here, it is no longer in the hands
of the Burroughs family. We couldn’t approach close to either the house
or the country club, but the view from Tarzana Blvd. up to the hilltop,
surrounded with exotic trees imported from around the world, has not completely
forgotten the time when this was a solitary paradise, and the paved parking
lot behind ERB Inc. was a dirt space where Ed could tether his horse.
I could have stayed for days inside the office searching
every corner and pulling out priceless pieces of the legacy of Mr. Burroughs;
my few hours there felt like running through the Metropolitan Museum of
Art at Marathon speed, seeing flashes of greatness. In fact, I may have
excused myself sooner than I needed to, because how long until I become
a nuisance who wanted to take down and look at every first edition on the
shelves in Jim Sullos’s office? This was the closest I have ever felt to
a favorite author, even ones whom I have met in person: the vast world
of ERB in compressed form surrounded me, in the same rooms where he walked
I drove back home, and before doing anything else, I sat
down on my couch and started re-reading Tarzan of the Apes. Great book.
ODDS AND SODS
". . . Tarzan was one series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs,
one of my favorite authors. We have discussed various writing styles in
the Creative Writers group and Burroughs' style was and remains, one of
my favorites. He didn't follow a single character through the story line,
but followed the protagonist, antagonist and usually at least one other
person or group until the climatic meeting of all involved. As the story
progressed, each of these story lines overlapped and blended to show the
synchronicity of the plot. It was a type of writing that was complicated
but fast paced. If you haven't read the Tarzan series of books, please
do. You will be delighted. . . ."
Added art from our ERBzine.com Paul Privitera Galleries
I Illustrated Disney Princesses As Modern Day Girls Living
In The 21st Century
Hi, I’m Anoosha. I’m a children’s book illustrator and
character designer for animation. I love Disney princesses, and in my spare
time I created a series of digital illustrations of what I imagine these
girls would be like as 21st century teens/young adults. I tried to be accurate
to their personalities, writing little backstories for each character.
I also put little homages to their movies, can you spot them all?
Jane Porter had just graduated from Central St. Martins
with a scientific illustration degree when her father surprised her with
an incredible opportunity. He wanted Jane to assist him in his research
of African gorillas in the Congo rainforest for the rest of the year. It
was one thing to spend your weekends sketching animals at the zoo, but
to leave her life in London and go the the dangerous depths of the jungle
where she’d be face-to-face with ferocious beasts and the possibility of
being lost forever and who knows what else… It was reckless and dangerous,
to say the least. She couldn’t wait.
An interesting interview with Roy Thomas. Only some of
his comments are in English but there is some good artwork included.
I can't say that my writing in the current two strips
I do for ERB, Inc., is particularly influenced by any writers other than
Burroughs and, indirectly, Stan Lee.
The feel of the early Foster-drawn strips, whoever wrote
them, is part of what I strive for in TARZAN in particular.
As for art, I'm a fan of Foster's work on TARZAN, as Buscema
was... but I also like Hogarth
(whom Buscema professed to despise artwise).
Russ Manning I liked at the time to a great extent, but
it always seemed a bit too tame to me... too slick, bordering on lifeless.
ERB Youtube Bios
Remembering Edgar Rice Burroughs
This video clip was produced by Michael D. Sellers and
Mark Linthicum for the John Carter Files
(www.thejohncarterfiles.com) and Edgar Rice Burroughs
and was first presented at the Tarzan-John Carter Centennial
Celebration on August 18, 2012.
It is part of a longer documentary-in-progress entitled
"The Life and Mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs".
Most of the stills are featured at www.ERBzine.com
Edgar Rice Burroughs 1875-1950
A nostalgic slide show remembering the old master, Edgar
on what would have been his 137th birthday, September
Burroughs created Tarzan of the Apes, John Carter of
Mars, Carson of Venus,
and countless other fantastic worlds and compelling heroes.
Featured portrait by Don Marquez (www.cartunes.com) plus
other great artists from Burroughs' era
-- Franklin Schoonover, J. Allen St. John, and John Coleman
Most of the uncredited stills are featured at www.ERBzine.com
100 Years In The Making
Andrew Stanton ~ Chabon ~ etc.
Short documentary about Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom
nd the efforts people have made for a century to get
them on screen. From the John Carter DVD
Everything Wrong With John Carter In 15 Minutes Or
John Carter is based on a beloved novel, had a huge budget,
and was directed by one of Pixar's best. And yet it's still surprisingly
sinful given those facts.
(Contrived and Forced ~ Unfair Cheap Shots ~ Wrong and
Name Search for "Burroughs"
Helium Flag from the film: John Carter (of Mars)
1932 Lithograph Tarzan Movie Poster by Atelier Konig Weninger
Doesn't sound like Burroughs to me.
Introducing a John Carter story like you've never seen before,
from co-writers Brian Wood (Star Wars, DMZ, Northlanders) and Alex
Cox (Adventure Time),
joined by artist Hayden Sherman (Civil War II: Kingpin).
For USD 19.99
Centuries have passed and time has taken its toll on Mars. Conflict
burns across the landscape.
A war of supremacy and genocide at the hands of a brutal despot
has brought the planet to the edge of collapse.
A search party has finally located an aged John Carter and Dejah
living in quiet seclusion on a desert moon, in perpetual mourning
for their lost son.
Fates Worse Than Death: The New Adventures of Tarzan
Guatemala: jungle land of mystery! Homeland of the lost Maya!
Cradle of secrets! It is to this land that Major Martling brings his expedition
in search of the Green Goddess, a mysterious idol said to contain an unknown
but highly potent explosive formula, as well as a fortune in jewels. Along
with his daughter Alice and her fiancé Gordon, Martling is accompanied
by his friend Lord Greystoke, who has some experience in the wilderness
himself. Greystoke has come to Guatemala to find his old friend Lieutenant
D’Arnot, a pilot who crash-landed in the Central American jungle.
Of course there are complications: in addition to the
typical jungle perils of wild animals and hostile natives, Martling is
hounded by Raglan, a rival explorer in the employ of a munitions company
that hopes to recover the explosive formula for its own use. In addition,
both parties are being shadowed by a mysterious woman, Ula, who claims
to be the widow of D’Arnot’s co-pilot, and who seems to have unfinished
business with Raglan. She tries to foil Raglan’s plans, but is she on Martling’s
side? What is her real aim?
Deep in the jungle lies the Dead City, home to a tribe
and a cult that is very much alive, worshiping the Goddess under the leadership
of a tiger-striped high priestess. They threaten Martling’s party with
sacrifice, even as Raglan steals the idol while the cultists are distracted.
Were Martling and his party alone, this might be their end, but Lord Greystoke
is not just the worldly traveler he appears to be: he is also Tarzan, Lord
of the Jungle! Through an action-packed twelve chapters that includes fights
with jungle cats, explosions, gunfights, espionage, and more, Tarzan and
Martling race to recover the idol before Raglan can get it onto a ship
bound to Europe, all while fending off the vengeful natives and the hooded
warriors who will likewise stop at nothing to recover their Goddess, in
The New Adventures of Tarzan!
I’ll admit I had a hard time getting into The New Adventures
of Tarzan at first, for a couple of reasons. In the copy I was watching,
the sound started out kind of fuzzy, making it hard to hear the dialogue,
and there is a lot of exposition to get out of the way, with numerous characters
and their histories and motivations being introduced. Because The New Adventures
was based on storylines from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan novels (although
not directly on any one novel), it is less streamlined than many later
serials, and the accumulation of multiple subplots and shifting settings
feels surprisingly modern, like an overstuffed summer blockbuster.
The first chapter is also forty minutes long, and contains
several set pieces that could easily have been cliffhangers between chapters
(Tarzan wrestles with crocodiles in a river, and later saves Major Martling’s
daughter from a snare that suspends her over a jaguar pit). I have grown
so accustomed to the rhythms of the serial that when these crises were
resolved without chapter breaks and the chapter crept toward twenty-five,
thirty, and thirty-five minutes in length, I started to wonder if the DVD
producers had edited out all the chapter breaks (a move that would compromise
this project, to say the least). But no, the first chapter is just extra-long,
and does eventually end on a cliffhanger, like the other, shorter chapters.
I’m glad I stuck it out, however, as once the slow engine
of story got underway and the excess baggage of characters and subplots
was shed, The New Adventures of Tarzan turned out to be an engaging serial
with a variety of colorful settings and some exciting action sequences.
The main conflict, in which a well-intentioned, patriotic explorer and
an unscrupulous mercenary fight over an ancient, powerful artifact, recalls
both the 1933 Perils of Pauline and, of course, the later Raiders of the
Lost Ark. (There’s also Martling’s notebook which contains the code necessary
to open the idol, and which changes hands several times.)
Much of the serial was filmed on location in Guatemala,
including Chichicastenango and the ruins of Tikal, by producer Ashton Dearholt;
the conditions turned out to be almost as difficult for the cast and crew
as for the characters on screen, with illness and bad weather taking their
toll. The role of Raglan, credited to Dan Castello, was actually played
by Dearholt himself after Castello had to drop out early on. The expense
and danger of the production mostly end up on the screen, however. The
big cats Tarzan fights are real (at least up until the moment an obviously
stuffed cat is thrown down; some of these fights are better edited than
others); the giant waterfalls over which characters (or, again, their dummy
stand-ins) plunge are suitably impressive, giving the film an epic scope.
On the other hand, the film shows some of the limitations
of independent production: other than the chapter titles, there is little
to no background music; combined with the relatively meager dialogue during
Tarzan’s many solo excursions and only ambient sound, long stretches of
The New Adventures could pass for a silent movie. One strange touch occurs
in the Dead City: a recurring gong, sometimes the only thing heard on the
soundtrack, is distorted enough to sound like the disturbing, unexplained
drones David Lynch frequently includes in his films, and is a surprisingly
eerie match for the scenes of torture and imprisonment by hooded inquisitors.
(No, I never expected to make a comparison between a serial and Lynch either,
but here we are.)
Tarzan himself (Herman Brix, who would later change his
name to Bruce Bennett) is not the monosyllabic wild man of popular culture;
because this serial was produced by Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs,
it reflects the character as he appears in the books, speaking perfect
English and transitioning effortlessly between his identities as Lord Greystoke
and Lord of the Jungle. This version of Tarzan never says anything like
“Me Tarzan, you Jane,” not least because Jane isn’t in this story.
Whereas other film representations of Tarzan emphasized
the noble savage or fish-out-of-water elements in his story, The New Adventures
treats him more like a superhero: as Greystoke he wears his wealth and
title easily, an aristocratic Bruce Wayne, but when there’s trouble he
strips down to a loincloth and takes to the jungle, swinging on vines and
talking to animals. His identity is far from secret, however, and he’s
treated like a celebrity: Martling’s valet George, in fact, is described
as “the flunky who joined the expedition to be closer to his idol, Tarzan.”
Burroughs’ Tarzan represents a colonialist ideal: the “best of both worlds,”
with all the education and material advantages of Western civilization
and all the vigor, toughness, and native wisdom of his adoptive culture.
In addition to its ambitious location shooting, The New
Adventures stands out from the serials I’ve watched in other ways. Burroughs’
stories could be quite bloody, emphasizing “nature red in tooth and claw”
and featuring villains evil enough to justify just about anything the good
guys might do to them. That’s often sanitized in film and TV retellings,
which are more kid-oriented than the books they’re based on. Although not
especially graphic, The New Adventures includes gunplay, stabbings, explosions,
and more, with (mostly) realistic consequences. No bloodless fistfights
here: Tarzan and co. don’t mess around. The most surprising sequence involves
George (who is otherwise comic relief) spraying machine gun fire at attacking
waves of tribesmen from the Dead City as if in flashback to the Great War.
Even Indiana Jones would save that kind of move for Nazi soldiers.
As I mentioned, the rhythm of this serial is also somewhat
odd, with a profusion of subplots (especially at the beginning) that gradually
thin out as D’Arnot is recovered and leaves with Alice and Gordon, and
Ula joins Martling’s party. Once the idol is stolen, the vengeful warriors
from the Dead City don’t pick up Raglan’s and Martling’s trail until Chapter
Seven, and the action is essentially resolved in Chapter Eleven. Many serials
include an “economy chapter,” in which flashbacks to earlier events are
included to catch up latecomers: The New Adventures treats the last chapter
as a recap, an anticlimax that serves only to tie up a few loose ends and
put a cap on the serial. Still, I’ve come to appreciate the looser, less
formulaic serials of the early ’30s, if only because they have more capacity
to surprise; however lumpy its storytelling, The New Adventures of Tarzan
is full of invention. No one is phoning it in.
What I watched: The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935, Burroughs-Tarzan
Where I watched it: Pop Flix’s 2-DVD Classic Tarzan Collection,
which also includes three features: Tarzan the Fearless, Tarzan’s Revenge,
and Tarzan and the Trappers.
No. of chapters: 12
Best chapter title: “Devil’s Noose” (Chapter 3)
Best cliffhanger: At the end of Chapter 10 (“Secret Signals”),
Tarzan confronts Raglan on the dock in Mantique as Raglan prepares to load
the Goddess idol onto Simon Blade’s ship. There’s a scuffle with Raglan
and his crew, during which the idol drops over the side of the dock, where
it hangs from a rope. Raglan pulls a gun and commands Tarzan to step away
from the idol, promising this will be “the last time you meddle in my business!”
In a sequence straight out of a gangster film, after a close-up of Tarzan,
the shot reverses to Raglan, the camera pointing straight down the barrel
of his gun. Bang!
Annie Wilkes Award for Most Blatant Cheat: In Chapter
Nine (“Doom’s Brink”), one of the most action-packed chapters, the members
of Martling’s party have been captured separately and taken to the Dead
City by the Goddess’ worshipers. Each faces a different peril: Martling
and George are taken to a torture chamber (!), Ula is imprisoned in a cell
with an old woman who attempts to stab her, and Tarzan is tied up in the
cell next to Ula’s with a chained lion. After overcoming the old woman,
Ula uses her knife to dig through the wall separating herself from Tarzan.
As Tarzan hurries to untie himself, the lion’s chain gives way; the last
shot of the chapter is of the lion’s slavering jaws as it lunges at the
It looks like the game is up for Tarzan, no? As the beginning
of Chapter Ten resets this peril, however, not only does Ula make a hole
big enough to pass Tarzan the knife, he has time to untie himself and maneuver
to the hole before the lion attacks, so he’s not even in the same place
when the lion lunges off of its chain. (This is at least more satisfying
than the chapter where Tarzan is caught in a spiked tiger trap, only to
be grazed by the spikes instead of impaled: such “oh, I guess he’s okay”
resolutions are even more anticlimactic than straight-up cheats, in my
Funniest moment: Martling’s valet George (Lewis Sargent)
has a lot of similarities to Professor Hargrave’s secretary Dodge from
The Perils of Pauline, but despite his silly attachment to his yo-yo, his
always-growling stomach, and his panicky reactions to mundane jungle plants
and animals, George has a few serious moments. His machine gunning of natives
from the Dead City (see above) is later paid back when George is the first
to be tortured in Chapter Nine. Still, most of George’s scenes involve
clowning of one kind or another, and I’ll admit to laughing when, in Chapter
Seven (“Flaming Waters”), George is bitten and chased by a bunch of water
turtles, an ordeal to which Tarzan responds with an epic eye-roll.
Sample dialogue: “He reminds me of some of the jungle
cats I’ve known: they’re most dangerous when they purr.” –Tarzan, referring
to Captain Blade, Chapter 11 (“Death’s Fireworks”)
What others have said: “At one point, Burroughs had worried
that so much local scenery had been eliminated from the episodes that the
whole thing might just as well have been shot in Hollywood. But in the
final edit, enough Mayan ruins, colonial cities, and Guatemalan Indians
survive to create a richly exotic and authentic backdrop. And for once,
Tarzan is able to swing through trees other than the sycamore and eucalyptus
so predominant in earlier films shot in or near Los Angeles.” –John Taliaferro,
Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan
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