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Volume 4190

Visions of Barsoom:
100 Years of John Carter™ :: February 2012

In Honor of the 100th  Anniversary of the
First Publication of “A Princess of Mars.”
By Dr. Robert Zeuschner
The first tale of Barsoom was in the February 1912 issue of All-Story magazine, entitled “Under the Moons of Mars.” It was published under the pseudonym “Norman Bean” (but Burroughs had intended it to read “Normal Bean”). The only illustration found in the six issues of the serial was a small title decoration by artist F. W. Small portraying a lone green six-limbed warrior.

There exists many fine pieces of art inspired by the Mars created in the fertile imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs. This portfolio includes 25 images, some quite rare, others not so rare. The majority of the images are the property of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and used by permission. The plates range from 1913 to the last plate finished in 2011. We wish we could have included some of the concept art for the Disney John Carter movie, but none was available for our use.


Plate 1
The first plate in this portfolio is a painting of Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), the author and creator of Barsoom, painted by his son, artist John Coleman Burroughs (1913-1979), who illustrated twelve books written by his father. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. owns several pieces by John Coleman Burroughs. Presently this painting hangs in the office of Jim Sullos, the president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Plate 2
From the very beginning, readers responded to the creative imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the worlds which he was able to create. The very first magazine to feature a full-color cover scene of Barsoom was the 1913 All-Story “Warlord of Mars,” the third in the Barsoom series. The artist, Fred W. Small, chose a scene which occurs at the end of Warlord of Mars. The lovely Dejah Thoris is the captive of Salensus Oll, the Jeddak (ruler) of the North. In the book, her hands are manacled to prevent her from escaping the lustful evil plans of the ruler. The magazine is from the collection of Bob Zeuschner. The scan was improved by Bruce Bozarth.

Plate 3

The talented Brandywine school artist Frank E. Schoonover (1877-1972) created this classic image of John Carter battling to protect his princess, Dejah Thoris. It is likely that the art was created in late 1916 or early 1917. This was used as the dust jacket art for the first edition of the first hardback set on Barsoom, A Princess of Mars printed October, 1917.


Plate 4
In interior artwork for chapter 16 of A Princess of Mars, Frank E. Schoonover gave us an illustration of Dejah Thoris scratching a map for John Carter:
“... taking a great diamond from her hair she drew upon the marble floor the first map of Barsoomian territory I had ever seen. It was crisscrossed in every direction with long straight lines, sometimes running parallel and sometimes converging toward some great circle.”
The original painting is in the collection of Dr. Brad Vinson, and used by permission.

Plate 5
Frank E. Schoonover has illustrated a scene from ch. 14 of A Princess of Mars. Dejah Thoris stands on a chariot, chained by her captors. John Carter’s limited understanding of Barsoomian customs had led him to say something which Dejah Thoris has misunderstood, and so she has turned her back to him in anger. “... I glanced into her chariot and rearranged her silks and furs. In doing so, I noticed with horror that she was heavily chained by one ankle to the side of the vehicle.” The orientation of this plate is the same as that of the original oil painting; the image was reversed when printed in Russ Cochran’s magnificent three-volume Edgar Rice Burroughs  Library of Illustration  (1976-1984).

Plate 6
This image came from the Frank E. Schoonover dust jacket cover for the Gods of Mars (September 1918). It depicts the opening lines of chapter 6. John Carter has disguised himself wearing the blonde wig of a Holy Thern and has just escaped from pursuers. Trying to avoid a raging battle on the ground, Carter has jumped and grabbed a trailing ladder, pulled himself up trying to gain the deck of a Martian flier, when one of the Black Pirates of Barsoom spots him as his head comes level with the deck. “For an instant the black pirate and I remained motionless, glaring into each other’s eyes. Then a grim smile curled the handsome lips above me, as an ebony hand came slowly in sight from above the edge of the deck and the cold, hollow eye of a revolver sought the centre of my forehead.”

Plate 7
J. Allen St. John (1872-1957) was one of Burroughs’ favorite illustrators. His first ERB art was his pen-and-ink illustrations for the 1915 The Return of Tarzan, and over the decades St. John painted and drew many classic images of John Carter, the incomparable Dejah Thoris, the princess of Mars, and their various adventures. The first illustration set on Barsoom by St. John was for the dust jacket of The Warlord of Mars (September 1919). The same image in monochrome serves as the frontispiece. St. John has chosen to illustrate the final page of the book, the triumphant finish to the three volume trilogy which began with A Princess of Mars. At the very end of the book the leaders and rulers of the separate nations, the red, the green, the yellow, and the black, have come to the capital city of Helium, surprised John Carter by summoning him to a justice tribunal, and Tars Tarkas, the ruler of the Thark nation asserts:
“Judges,” he said, “there can be but one verdict. No longer may John Carter be Prince of Helium”  – he paused – “but instead let him be Jeddak of Jeddaks, Warlord of Barsoom!”
... Presently fifty of the mightiest nobles of the greatest courts of Mars marched down the broad Aisle of Hope bearing a splendid car upon their shoulders, and as the people saw who sat within, the cheers that had rung out for me paled into insignificance besides those which thundered through the vast edifice now, for she whom the nobles carried was Dejah Thoris, beloved Princess of Helium.

Straight to the Throne of Righteousness they bore her, and there Tardos Mors assisted her from the car, leading her forward to my side.
“Let a world’s most beautiful woman share the honor of her husband,” he said. Before them all I drew my wife close to me and kissed her upon the lips.
Originally St. John painted this image as the color dust jacket cover, with St. John’s own distinctive lettering painted onto the canvas. If you examine the print carefully, you can see the remnants of the original lettering which St. John has apparently painted over so that the image could be used for a monochrome frontispiece, but was not quite able to get rid of all traces of it.


Plate 8
One of the most imaginative of the John Carter of Mars series is the fifth volume, the The Chessmen of Mars (November 1922). J. Allen St. John provided the dust jacket and eight sepia interior plates. This is the frontispiece of the first edition, wherein Turan has rescued Tara of Helium, the daughter of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, from a forced marriage. This grey and white oil painting perfectly captures the self-confidence of the swordsman, the beautiful woman he stands before and protects. Their clothing is regal, and the ancient throne room is brought to life by St. John’s skill. It does not require much imagination to see this as John Carter and Dejah Thoris, if we wish.

Plate 9
The first Mars book for which St. John provided numerous interior illustrations was the fourth book in the series, Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920). This J. Allen St. John image is one of the great iconic portrayals of Barsoom. Contained in this single image are all the emblems of Barsoom. There is the six-limbed green warrior on his mount, a thoat. The red-skinned warrior, sword in hand, is ready to fight to protect the princess standing to the side. We cannot quite see her face, but from her stance and her flowing long hair, we know that she is extraordinarily beautiful, as befits a Burroughs heroine and princess. Additional green warriors are off in the background on the left. Ruins of an abandoned city lost in the past provide silent witness to the battle. This artwork is a favorite of many ERB fans and collectors. It served as the frontispiece for Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920). The caption reads “As the great thoat and his rider hurtled past, Carthoris swung his long-sword in a mighty cut [Page 170].” The original artwork is monochrome; Philip Normand (of digitally added color to enhance this portrayal of Barsoom.

Plate 10
This J. Allen St. John image is also from Thuvia, Maid of Mars. The scene depicted on page 55 of the McClurg first edition is “Then Thar Ban vaulted to the back of this thoat, Thuvia of Ptarth still in his arms, and with a savage cry of triumph, disappeared down the black canyon of the Avenue of Quays between the sullen palaces of forgotten Aanthor.” Although the original is monochrome, Philip Normand (of has added a color underpainting to the original drawing allowing us to see and appreciate the image in a new way.

Plate 11
In an interior plate facing page 86 of the first edition of Swords of Mars (1936), J. Allen St. John portrays Fal Sivas, the inventor, showing John Carter the artificial brain (sixty years later we would call it a computer) which pilots the space ship. “Fal Sivas reached up and laid a hand almost affectionately upon the spherical object to which he had called my attention. ‘This,’ he said, ‘is the brain’.” The original work of art is in the possession of ERB, Inc.

Plate 12
This image is among several of St. John’s iconic visions which are in the collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and are  found in this portfolio. This illustration faces page 158 is the first edition of Swords of Mars (1936): “A sword flashed inward.” Although it could have been John Carter and Dejah Thoris, it is not. But we know that it must be Barsoom.

Plate 13
John Coleman Burroughs (1913-1979) provided illustrations for many of his father’s books, including the ninth and tenth in the series set on Barsoom: Synthetic Men of Mars (1939) and Llana of Gathol (published in 1948 but written in 1940 before the Second World War broke out). Here John Coleman Burroughs gives us his vision of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. Scholars think it most likely that the model for Dejah Thoris was his wife, Jane Ralston Burroughs, who appeared in many of John Coleman Burroughs’s paintings. She was also the model for Dejah Thoris in various comic strips, especially “John Carter of Mars” which John Coleman scripted and drew between 1939 and 1943.

Plate 14
We know we are on Barsoom when we see two moons hurtling overhead. In this previously unpublished artwork by John Coleman Burroughs, we have an atmospheric rendering of what remains from a mighty empire of the past, the great city abandoned to decay and ruin when the ocean waters receded over the centuries. I think we can safely assume that the human in this work is John Carter about to embark on another of his adventures, quite possibly to rescue a lovely and feisty damsel held captive by the tribe of green warriors called the Warhoons.

Plate 15
Another unpublished work by John Coleman Burroughs. John Carter has entered the ruined city of the previous plate, and apparently has worked his way over collapsed buildings and crumbling pathways to finally stand in the middle of what once was the center of a grand bustling city. Looking at the decaying sculpture and the fading art, Carter wonders about the people who built this grand structure.

Plate 16
John Coleman Burroughs gives us the deathly silent interior of the eerie ruined capital. Who, or what, is that great statue on the right? Are white apes around the corner, about to attack? Are Warhoon green warriors nearby, taking aim with their deadly weapons?

Plate 17
From the Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. collection we have John Coleman Burroughs’ impression of Tars Tarkas, the green leader of the Thark tribe who became one of the best friends of our hero, John Carter. ERB described the green warriors as having a glossy green hide, and here John Carter describes a group from chapter 1 of the Gods of Mars:
... here were the gleaming white tusks protruding from their massive lower jaws to a point near the centre of their foreheads, the laterally placed, protruding eyes with which they could look forward or backward, or to either side without turning their heads, here the strange antennae-like ears rising from the tops of their foreheads, and the additional pair of arms extending from midway between the shoulders and the hips.

Plate 18
J. Allen St. John was a master of black ink drawing, and the original magazine appearances of ERB's stories published in the 1940s are filled with drawings like this. This classic image is found on page 25 of the controversial "John Carter and the Giant of Mars" which appeared in the January 1941 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. (A description of the controversy is found on page 73 of Robert Zeuschner, Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Exhaustive Scholar’s and Collector’s Descriptive Bibliography, McFarland, 1995).

Plate 19
In the 1960s Ballantine Books issued the entire eleven-book series in paperback with interesting covers by Robert K. Abbett (b. 1926). Here Abbett provides the cover for the first U.S. paperback printing of A Princess of Mars (January 1963). Mr. Abbett continues to be an active painter, famous for scenes of nature and for his artworks featuring dogs in their native environment.

Plate 20
One of the great illustrators of the fantasy realms of Edgar Rice Burroughs was Roy G. Krenkel (1918-1983). Krenkel was a master of the pen-and-ink style but here he has produced an action-filled and colorful battle scene on Barsoom for the cover of the 1963 Ace paperback book, A Fighting Man of Mars. Apparently Frank Frazetta also contributed to this artwork. We want to thank the Krenkel estate for giving us permission to use this fine work.

Plate 21
In this illustration for the Ballantine paperback, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Robert K. Abbett portrays Thuvia of Ptarth descending from her flier. This illustration was withheld by the publisher until the 1969 reprinting.

Plate 22
One of the contemporary artists who has contributed many excellent Burroughs fantasy art pieces is Joe Jusko (b. 1959). Although the subject matter of his art covers a broad field of subjects, Mr. Jusko has illustrated many dozens of artworks set on Barsoom. This image from 1995 belongs to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and depicts Ras Thavas, a medical experimenter whose brilliance is the result of natural genius plus a thousand years of discoveries resulting from his continuous practice in the operating theater. He is also known as the Master Mind of Mars. Using his own inventions including a blood pump, he is about to perform an operation on a woman of the red race of Helium.

Plate 23
Thomas Yeates (b. 1958) is one of several gifted contemporary artists who loves to illustrate ERB. Thomas began illustrating Burroughs books while still quite young, contributing to Burroughs fan magazines. Here we have the climatic battle at the end of A Princess of Mars. The mighty nation of Zodanga has fallen to tribes of green warriors as well as the red warriors of the city of Helium, united in common purpose by John Carter. The goal is the rescue of Dejah Thoris from the Jeddak (ruler) of Zodanga. We recognize John Carter and Dejah Thoris in the throne room as the climatic battle rages.

Plate 24
Thomas Yeates provided this interior illustration of Dejah Thoris and Woola, which appears on page 88 of the collection, John Carter of Mars (Fall River Press, 2009). The scene is from A Princess of Mars and the caption is “She moved with the carriage of the queen she was.” A Hollywood star served as the model for Dejah Thoris. From the collection of Bob and Lindy Zeuschner.

Plate 25
This previously unpublished art by Thomas Yeates combines the major icons of the Barsoom series of books. We see John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas exploring another decaying city of ancient Barsoom. This is in the collection of Bob and Lindy Zeuschner.

  • The compiler of this portfolio and the author of these notes is Dr. Robert Zeuschner.
  • The compiler wishes to thank Jim Sullos and Cathy Wilbanks at ERB, Inc. for so generously making available images of the wonderful original Burroughs art which is in their care.
  • The late Danton Burroughs shared numerous images of his father’s works and asked me to make them available. I’m glad to finally have the opportunity to do so.
  • Two members of the Los Angeles branch of the Burroughs Bibliophiles, the SubERBs, were especially instrumental in bringing this portfolio to you. Special thanks are due to Billy York and Bonnie York.
  • Several works of art in this portfolio were not in the ERB, Inc. collection, and the compiler wishes to thank Bill Hillman, Philip Normand, Bruce Bozarth, and Charles Madison for their work on various scans. The pulp magazine covers and interior art come from the collection of Bob Zeuschner.
  • Thanks to Barry Klugerman, who controls the RG Krenkel estate, for permission to use the Krenkel image.
  • A special thanks to Thomas Yeates who so very generously shared his art, and who made it possible to get permission from the Krenkel estate to use the Roy Krenkel image. All of the Thomas Yeates artworks in this portfolio were used with his permission.
  • Thanks also to the person who worked behind the scenes, but who was nevertheless instrumental in creating the portfolio as you see it: Brian Kirby.
  • Finally, Javier Dimas of AFJ Graphics worked long and hard on the project, improving the scans wherever he could and patiently making the many changes as we went along. Thank you, Javier.


The art on the envelope is by Thomas Yeates and appears on page 69 of the combined volume, John Carter of Mars (Fall River Press, 2009). It depicts a scene found in chapter 10 of A Princess of Mars: "Springing upward, I struck him full in the face as he turned at my warning cry, and then as he drew his short-sword I drew mine and sprang up again upon his breast, hooking one leg over the butt of his pistol and grasping one of his huge tusks with my left hand while I delivered blow after blow upon his enormous chest."

The versions of the art displayed here are mainly from our ERBzine archive
along with a scattering of low resolution folio scans. 
The art prints in Dr. Zeuschner's spectacular portfolio are larger, restored, 
high resolution prints on high quality stock suitable for framing. 
The images on this page are presented to give the reader some idea of 
the variety of art included in the original portfolio.

Dr. Robert B. Zeuschner
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Exhaustive Scholar’s and
Collector’s Descriptive Bibliography of American Periodical,
Hardcover, Paperback and Reprint Editions.


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