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Volume 2035

The Story of the Tarzan Newspaper Strips

. . . as they were rendered by
Burroughs Artist:
by Jack Bender
Reprinted from ERB-dom No. 27

Hugh Hutton, distinguished editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer since 1934, is the only artist who handled both the art on a Burroughs book and the Tarzan comic strip.

HIs beautiful full-colour dust jacket -- as well as a frontispiece -- for A Fighting Man of Mars, published in 1931, are well known to Burroughs collectors. 

But few know of his role, though brief, with the Tarzan comic strip in 1929 during the transition between Hal Foster and Rex Maxon.

As an experiment, Foster had illustrated Tarzan of the Apes in 60 daily episodes in panel form for Metropolitan Newspaper Syndicate. This caught on, but apparently Foster wasn't too anxious to be saddled with a daily comic strip. Hutton was a staff artist with Metropolitan at that time. First, he was assigned the job of remodeling Foster's strip for a book, The Illustrated Tarzan Book No. 1, which was published through arrangement with Metropolitan. 

Then he began work on the daily strip and did a "bunch" until Rex Maxon was available. Publication of these, based on The Return of Tarzan, began June 10, 1929.

Here's the story to Hutton's words: "All I did was work on it when Hal Foster dropped it and before Rex Maxon took over. Foster was fussing with Burroughs. I was put on the job of remodeling Foster's strip for a book. Following this was an interlude --- two or three weeks -- when I had to fill in a bunch of strips until Rex Maxon showed up.

"At that time Edgar Rice Burroughs came back to New York. I got to know him a little, a very likable chap. Very friendly and absolutely noncommittal. A great guy."

In 1931, Hutton, still with Metropolitan, which was now publishing Burroughs first editions, was given the job of the dust jacket and frontispiece for A Fighting Man of Mars. Metropolitan was then located in the old New York World newspaper building, before that newspaper went out of business. 

Hutton recalls the effort of completing the painting for the dust jacket. "All I can remember was working against a deadline," he says.

"I caught a 'bug' and had a temperature of 103 degrees. The only way I could keep going was to alternately paint and lie flat on the floor under the drawing board. Mrs. Feg Murray walked in once and let out a shriek  that cracked the door glass -- she though I had dropped dead at work."

The whereabouts of the original is unknown, but Hutton recalls it was about 3 by 4 in size. 

Hugh Hutton was born on December 11, 1897 in Lincoln, Nebraska. His background includes attending the University of Minnesota, working as a "chalk-talk" entertainer for the YMCA and Overseas Theatre League just after World War I (he lost a leg in 1917), and doing illustrations for the Sunday Magazine of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. 

Like many editorial cartoonists today, he also has a background as a printer and newspaperman. He was telegraph editor for the Nebraska State Journal before going into illustration as a career.

He and his wife Dorothy live in Philadelphia. They are both active in activities of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, where my wife and I have become acquainted with them. 

Incidentally, Hutton clears up a mystery. He notes that Metropolitan Features combined with World Features and then McFadden's Graphic Features. This wa all taken over by United Press, making it United Features. Thus all the terms refer to the same company.

Hutton stayed with UFS until the fall of 1933, when he joined the Philadelphia Public Ledger. He has been there ever since  (this paper merged with the Inquirer the following spring.)

Hugh Hutton Wraparound Cover: A Fighting Man of Mars - frontispiece
See full publishing info and related cover art at ERBzine 0735

See all six Return of Tarzan strips by Hugh Hutton at: ERBzine 2011

See more strip titles and artist listings in
ERB and the Press

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