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Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages & Webzines in Archive
Volume 1517

Feature interviews about Edgar Rice Burroughs
Life ~ Works ~ Fandom ~ Relevance ~ Disney

Setting the Record Straight:
An Interview of a Burroughs Expert
at the
University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books) blog
Blog host, Maureen Moynihan interviews Bill Hillman
The Webmaster/Editor of the Official ERB Websites & Webzines

I thought I'd offer you a break from my own semi-literate ramblings and speculations to offer the words of Bill Hillman, the official webmaster and more of Edgar Rice Burroughs information. After my comment about the film version of Tarzan's "Me Tarzan. You Jane," Bill stepped forward to set the record straight, as he has done on his official Burroughs websites. 

I asked Bill to talk about his experiences with Burroughs' works, and he demonstrates his fan status and authority with the balance achieved only by a Canadian. Or maybe his professorship is to blame for the lack of Jerry Springer moments. I assume most of us will be glad of that reprieve, but there's fun for sure and many "u"'s in unusual places.

The following are the questions that leapt to mind while I perused the Burroughs section in our new science fiction catalogue. The rest consists of his answers, pure and unabridged. MM

1. How did you first encounter Burroughs' works?
As a kid growing up in the '50s I was surrounded by ERB's Tarzan: the Tarzan Sunday page appeared for many years on the front page of the Toronto Star Weekly comics section ~ Radio shows (". . . and now in the very words of Mr. Burroughs. . .") ~ Dell comic books ~ Big Little Books ~ Lex Barker Tarzan films ~ toys, etc. At age 10 I even built a Tarzan tree house – with my father's hunting knife :)

The first ERB novel I read was The Chessmen of Mars. The first Tarzan book was The Return of Tarzan.

2. Which character or book is your favorite?
My favourite "character" has to be Edgar Rice Burroughs himself. His life was as fascinating as any of the characters he wrote about. As for his fictional characters, I have no favourite -- just as I have no "favourite" among our own three kids. Each one is unique -- love 'em all.

3. Do you believe Burroughs' works are dated? If no, why? If yes, how so?
Yes, many are written in a somewhat colourful Victorian style which is quite different from the writing styles that have evolved 100 years later in our 21st century. . . and perhaps some of his inventions and the conventions of his storytelling and plots may seem dated to some . . . BUT these elements form much of the appeal of the ERB books. Burroughs is a remarkable storyteller and his formal writing style seems to lend an air of believability to the stories. He wrote for the adults of his day and when I first read the books my first thought was, "Wow! This ain't kids stuff."  If some of his themes appear dated, it is because he did so much of this FIRST, to be followed by hundreds of SF and adventure writers who picked up on his imaginative ideas and conventions. ERB's moral themes of good over evil are timeless. The world now, more than ever, needs heroes to look up to . . . and these books got 'em.

4. When did people like you begin taking Burroughs seriously, as more than fans?
Although ERB wrote primarily for escapism, it is hard to not take him and his accomplishments seriously: One of the most-read and best-selling authors in the world -- from 1911 to present day. An author who has influenced all entertainment media and accomplished so many "firsts" across that spectrum -- self-incorporation, movies (silent, serials, animated features, etc.), adventure strips and comic books, newspaper/pulp magazine serials, world-wide book sales in scores of languages, radio serials in ET syndication, TV, computer gaming, Internet, merchandising, tie-in promotions with advertising, stage plays, ice shows. . . the list is endless, and I haven't even touched on his personal accomplishments beyond his role as a businessman/author.

5. Would you define Burroughs as a science fiction, a fantasy, or an adventure author? Or does it depend on the book in question?
He dun it all :) -- very often all three elements in one book . . . yup.

6. I've heard of conventions on Burroughs. Do you attend?
There are two major ERB conventions each year: ECOF (Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship) and the major one hosted by the Burroughs Bibliophiles, the Dum-Dum (a ritual gathering of the great apes described in ERB's Tarzan novels).

I attend as many as possible -- sometimes the time scheduling conflicts my "real world" role of university professor -- or distance makes attendance difficult. The events are held in different locations each year, all across the US, Canada and even England. We are hoping that there will be future gatherings in Holland and Germany as Disney has plans to open their Tarzan stage musical currently running on Broadway over in Europe next year. 

7. Is there any controversy over Burroughs like there is over the authenticity of Jules Verne's works after his son "edited" them?
 I can't speak for liberties taken in foreign translations, but in general ERB's books have survived editing quite successfully over the last almost 100 years.

The exceptions are a few "PC" changes done by paperback publishers and the occasional "abridged" editions done for children. The greatest liberties taken with ERB's works have been in film where Tarzan, the English Lord, is sometimes betrayed as a semi-literate oaf and many of the plots are tired and repetitious -- "Me Tarzan - You Jane." I would hope that Nebraska Press is conscientiously looking for unbowdlerized texts for all future reprints.

8. What book would you recommend to a newcomer to Burroughs' works?
A good starting point would be ERB's third novel, the first Tarzan book: Tarzan of the Apes -- followed by his first creation, the John Carter Trilogy: (A Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars). That otta get ya hooked. . . then it's on to the earth's core, Venus, lost civilizations, the wild west, and lands forgotten by time.

9. Even in The Moon Maid, on a failed attempt to meet Martian men, the explorers end up inside the Moon in a lush paradise. Why the obsession with the mysterious tropics?
Exotic lands. There isn't much room for plot development on the airless, barren Moon surface. ERB's locales, however, included every imaginable landscape/seascape under the sun (and under the earth, and beyond.)

10. Finally, the shameless plug. What do you think if the University of Nebraska Press editions? Do you have a recommendation for expanding the already considerable list?
Of course we are very excited about these editions from such a prestigious university publishing house. They are bringing ERB's classic timeless works to a whole new audience and new levels of acceptance and recognition. The addition of forewards/afterwords/glossaries, etc. by contemporary authors and fans is a great addition -- as is the inclusion of fresh new artwork by new artists, which builds on the great art tradition of the original artists: Schoonover, J. Allen St. John, John Coleman Burroughs, Hogarth, Krenkel, Frazetta, et al. And I know that there are many more releases in the works as I've had the pleasure of providing scans for some of these future projects. We are very grateful for the respect and obvious understanding of material that has been shown by the editors. The online feedback generated by blogs such as this should provide some idea of the titles that ERB fans, old and new, would like to see for future releases.
Bill is Webmaster and Editor for all the Fan Tribute Websites authorized by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. of Tarzana, California. These Websites contain well over 5,000 Webpages and feature a comprehensive documentation ERB's life and works: ERB and Burroughs Family bios ~ illustrated bibliographies and encyclopedias for the original pulp magazines, comics, novels, artists, newspaper articles, film, radio, TV, etc. ~ e-Texts ~ fan fiction ~ countless analytical articles ~ fan profiles ~ links to other ERB Websites, ListServs, etc. Also associated with these sites are very large (and free) weekly & monthly Webzines, along with an ERB News blog.
Thanks to Bill Hillman of, Editor and Webmaster for the Official Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Group of Websites and Webzines:,,, also,

Thanks again to Bill and all who read our blog. We're officially off the ground now. While I myself will leave for Canada soon, you’ll be hearing more from me in the days to come. (Books travel really well. Still more convenient than laptops for airplane entertainment.)

If you’d like to weigh in, drop a comment in the box and perhaps you’ll be my next interviewee. While not required, proof of expert status should come, preferably, from an institution more prestigious than "Cracker Jack" brand decoder rings. ~ MM:

University of Nebraska Bison Press Books
The ERB titles from the Bison Frontiers of Imagination series

Essay by Phillip R. Burger
Contains a final chapter by Phillip R. Burger
Essay by Phillip R. Burger
Afterword by Phillip R. Burger
Afterword by Phillip R. Burger
Afterword by Phillip R. Burger

Next Release

An Interview with Danton Burroughs in NYC
By Nick Orlando ~ Featured at Broadway World ~ June 14, 2006

   In 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced the character of Tarzan to the world in his imaginative tale, "Tarzan of the Apes," and in no time, his career was off and running. Tarzan has since been featured in 26 authorized novels and 44 motion pictures. Burroughs decided to take his career a step further by launching his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. He died on March 19, 1950. His writing and characters entertained three generations of readers and moviegoers. At present, the Burroughs family, including grandson, Danton Burroughs manages the corporation. Danton Burroughs and I sat down to speak about Tarzan, the Broadway Musical, as well as the life of his grandfather.

Nick Orlando: What was your grandfather's inspiration for creating the character, Tarzan?

Danton Burroughs: Money! He, at the time, pawned my grandmother's jewelry. He had written Tarzan as his third novel. His third story was submitted to "All Story Magazine." The editor loved it! It came out in the October issue of the magazine. It sold for 15 cents and today, if you can find a nice copy, it is $15,000-$30,000. Extremely rare; it was the whole story in one volume which was not done before. 

Nick Orlando: How did this character evolve?

Danton Burroughs: My grandfather played with the evolution theory and he created the name Tarzan. The first name he had was Nazrat and then he changed the syllables around to Tarzan. We have the original manuscript and you can see where he is actually thinking and changing the names. He just had a way with words and he created a mythical character in 1911. As soon as Tarzan came out, it was an immediate success. It also came out in England. My grandfather got so much fan mail. His pseudonym was Normal Bean, but when the book came out in 1914, he was credited as Edgar Rice Burroughs. First movie was 1918. It was also one of the first movies to gross over a million dollars. It starred Gordon Griffith as the young Tarzan and Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan himself. Elmo Lincoln was a big hit at the time. 

Nick Orlando: Did your grandfather have any significant obstacles he had to overcome or did things come easy?

Danton Burroughs: He was a hell of a business man. He incorporated himself in 1923, which was odd for an author to do, but he liked the protection of a corporation because he was involved in early lawsuits with some of the Tarzan pictures. He went on to do the merchandising and publishing on his own. He had my father come in during the 1930s and illustrate Tarzan and the other books my grandfather wrote. He kept it as a family corporation and to this day, it is owned by the heirs of Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

Nick Orlando: Are there things going on in your life that parallels your grandfathers? Are you following in his footsteps? 

Danton Burroughs: Only as an archivist and trying to save everything. Also, working on documentaries and coming to see amazing musicals, like Tarzan, the Broadway Musical. The legend lives on!

Nick Orlando: I’m sure your grandfather would be very proud to see Disney putting on Tarzan, the Broadway Musical.

Danton Burroughs: He would be beside himself and there is enjoyment from the Burroughs family!

See the Danton Burroughs Tarzana Archive Releases
each week at

Disney Theatrical Productions and Stage Entertainment, the largest theatrical producing company in Europe announced Monday, May 22nd, 2006, that Disney's newest musical, Tarzan, will be their next co-production in Europe, set to open in Holland next spring at the Circustheatre near Amsterdam with a second production scheduled to open in Germany in 2008.

Tarzan, the Broadway Musical, is currently playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street). The cast album will be released on June 27th on Walt Disney Records. The production stars Josh Strickland and Jenn Gambatese as Tarzan and Jane. Performances run Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00pm, and Sunday at 3:00pm. Tickets are available through or by calling 212-307-4747. For more information, please visit

See all the ERBzine features on Tarzan The Broadway Musical at:


Hillman Interviews on
Jeff Long's Dateline Jasoom Podcasts
From the Chicago Panthan Press Studios

A few of the highlights:

Episode 2
International interviews:
England's Laurence Dunn and Canada's Bill Hillman

Episode 3
Chat about the progress of the John Carter movie.

Episode 4
News about the new Land That Time Forgot movie

Episode 6
 ERB convention memories.

Episode 9
A look at Disney's Tarzan on Broadway,
with commentary from Bill "Jeddak of the North" Hillman
who was there for opening night.
Plus much more at:

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