Burroughs fans have experienced disappointment at times in recent years when publishing companies have began -- but left unfinished -- various serious of reprints of classic ERB material.
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"Tarzan and the Adventurers"
Titan Books finishes up its epic reprint of the Hogarth Sundays
By John "Bridge" Martin
But Titan Books has followed through on its plan to reprint the colorful Sunday Tarzan comics that flowed from the pen of Burne Hogarth, the first volume hitting the streets on May 13, 2014.
The five volumes which came out on the average of once per year, in Spring, are:
"Tarzan and the City of Gold," Volume 1, 2014Each volume is named for one or more of the various stories each includes.
"Tarzan and the Barbarians," Volume 2, 2015
"Tarzan vs. the Nazis," Volume 3, 2016
"Tarzan and the Lost Tribes," Volume 4, 2017
And, as of March 6, 2018, the final book, Volume 5:
"Tarzan and the Adventurers."
Overall title for the series is: "The Complete Burne Hogarth Comic Strip Library."
The last volume is the most unusual one in the series, being of a different size for logistical reasons and containing a run of black and white strips for which Hogarth was also credited.
Here are some comments on both the color and black and white sections of the final book:
"Tarzan and the Adventurers"
The Color Sunday Comics
The last volume is shorter in height and wider than the first four volumes. This is to better accomodate the layout of the later strips which ran in newspapers in half-page format instead of the older full-page format.
The last color Hogarth Sunday strips run through the first 56 pages of the 136-page book while the rest of it contains the later black and white daily strips by Hogarth and others.
Henry G. Franke III, editor of "The Burroughs Bulletin," wrote introductory articles to both sections.
In the first article, "Transforming Tarzan's Jungle," Henry goes into some interesting detail to explain the economic easons and behind-the-scenes considerations that resulted in the Tarzan strip, along with just about every other Sunday comic strip, being reduced from full- to half-page format.
Henry explains the practice of including a "takeaway panel," which could either be printed as part of the layout or lopped by the newspaper, without significantly effecting the flow of the story.
Speaking of past efforts to reprint the old Sunday strips, Henry notes that "...because reprints were made from extant copies of published newspaper strips -- not from the syndicate's color proofs, which were disposed of decades ago -- the editor of that reprint series believed the reproduction quality would suffer if the smaller, half-page version were used, along with the necessary enlargement of the image to match the book's dimensions.
"So no modern reader has seen the entire set of half-page 'Tarzan' Sundays created by Hogarth -- a total of 45 strips that first appeared in October 1949 and ran until September 1950 -- even though these are the original and complete comics as written and drawn."
At least none had seen them in completeness...until now....
"Titan Books and comic strip historian Pete Maresca have done a major service to fans of Tarzan and of Hogarth in hunting down a complete set of the half-page strips. This was a major undertaking. Finding reproducible copies of any strip from this era is difficult enough, but because collectors usually desired the 'Tarzan' Sunday strips in full-page, the half-page version was largely ignored and unavailable."
Henry doesn't directly identify NBM's "Tarzan in Color" reprints but they are an obvious example of what he is referring to. In the last volume of those, Vol. 18, the last 47 Sunday strips (almost the whole book) are the same strips that appear in "Tarzan and the Adventurers."
But, each page of "Adventurers," thanks to the determination of the editors of Titan books to find the "whole" strips, contains an extra panel that is not in the NBM edition. However, in order for Titan to reprint the entire strip, even with the wider format, it was necessary to print the pages slightly smaller than the ones that appear in the NBM edition. Both publications are worth having -- NBM for the larger displays of Hogarth art, and the Titan book for the completeness of each page.
In addition to his introduction to the Tarzan color strips, Henry Franke also provides a mid-book introduction to the black and white section. The article is titled "The Daily Grind" and is followed by three stories, "Tarzan at the Earth's Core," "Tarzan and Hard-Luck Harrigan," and "Attack of the Apes." The three stories are listed as five in the "Contents," based on which creators were involved with which sections of the stories.
"Tarzan and the Adventurers"
The Daily Black and White Comics
Henry explains how ERB didn't pay too much attention to what was going on with the newspaper strips while he was busy being a World War II correspondent, but he became hands-on again when he returned to Tarzana, and one thing he did was to urge the syndicate to rehire Hogarth to breathe some life back into the daily and Sunday Tarzan strips, which were being done by others.
Hogarth accepted the job to rekindle interest with his dynamic art for the Sunday strips but was less enthusiastic about the dailies. However, he came up with a way of getting the job done.
Henry writes: "While Ed thought Hogarth was drawing the daily strip, he had actually declined USF's [Universal Features Syndicate) request to draw the daily. As Hogarth reported years later, he agreed to 'supervise it to give it a consistency with the Sunday. I found Dan Barry, coached him on the approach, discussed concept, and we took up some daily material. I penciled about two weeks or so of strips. Dan inked all of the dailies and did the whole job after that for a considerable period.' " Hogarth said he never signed his name on the dailies but that Barry probably put it there because the syndicate asked him to. The strip carried Hogarth's name for three years and then it went unsigned, but was actually drawn by John Lehti, Paul Reinman and Nick Cardy, in addition to Barry. Universal referred to them as Hogarth's "assistants."
Another point of interest to me is that Henry Franke is, I believe, now retired from the U.S. Army and had advanced to the rank of colonel. In his remarks introducing the daily strips he take care to note that Barry, Lehti and Cardy all served in the Army and that Lehti and Cardy both earned Purple Heart Medals, having suffered combat wounds.
And, in reading Henry's leadoff article on the color Sunday, "Transforming Tarzan's Jungle," I had to smile when I read Henry's somewhat militaristic description of the way the old Tarzan Sundays were laid out: "Hogarth was usually confined to a layout of visually monotonous square panels marching along, tier by tier, with the occasional double-square panel to break up this pattern."
The last few pages of the book contain ads with color images for the other Titan Books reprints of Tarzan and Scott Tracy Griffin's two coffee table Tarzan books, as well as ads for Flash Gordon and Betty Boop books.
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