The First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Issue 0667
The Many Worlds of
Edgar Rice Burroughs Signature
Chattering From The Shoulder
No.  28

A Descriptive Analysis of the
J. Allen St. John Illustrations
The Beasts of Tarzan
By David Arthur Adams
Beasts of Tarzan: Art by St. John from the Zeuschner Collection

The dust jacket is a wrap-around painting of Tarzan, Akut (the ape) and Sheeta.  The composition is a triangle with Tarzan at the apex with his right hand grasping an overhead branch.  The ape's bullet head and torso forms another triangle at Tarzan's left, while the unspotted leopard (looking more like a mountain lion) stretches his great length across the bottom.  The back cover reveals a black panther in a beautifully executed jungle scene.

Frontispiece & Title Page

The frontispiece and title page are very special with an illustration that extends across both pages.  On the left page, Tarzan with a bow has just released an arrow that we find under the book title on the right page.  Behind Tarzan three apes are visible just emerging from the trees that extend to the top of the page, and Sheeta stands in the foreground gazing across the savanna that extends across the rest of the title page.

Interior Illustrations

There are 38 pen and ink illustrations in the text, which makes this the second most profusely illustrated Tarzan novel (after The Son of Tarzan), and as far as I can tell from a quick look at Darrell C. Richardson's J.Allen St. John:  An Illustrated Bibliography, it is the second most profusely illustrated book in the entire career of this great artist.  St. John did 26 small chapter heading decorations for The Return of Tarzan  and 27 chapter headings and 28 pen and ink illustrations for the text of The Son of Tarzan.
I. KidnappedII. Marooned: The abduction of Lady GreystokeII. MaroonedIII. Beasts at Bay: Tarzan's fight with the bull ape
1. Chapter 1, p. 14 (small) a man in a slicker with the large collar covering his mouth and wearing a flat hat with a brim glance at the reader.  I think he is Alexis Paulvitch hiding his identity from Tarzan.

2.  Chapter 2, p. 19 (large, but not full page)"The abduction of lady Greystoke"   A well-dressed Lady Greystoke is being pulled by the arm into a room on the Kincaid  by the Lenin-bearded Nikolas Rokoff

3.  Chapter 2, p. 30 (small) the head of a fierce mangani.

4.  Chapter 3, p. 34 (large, but not full page) "Tarzan's fight with the bull ape" A nearly naked Tarzan (with very short hair) faces a charging Akut and three other apes.

IV. SheetaIV. SheetaIV. SheetaV. Mugambi: Tarzan conquers the chief of the Wagambi
5.  Chapter 4, p. 52-53 (a double-paged illustration) This outstanding piece is inserted into a jagged text to render the action.  On the left-hand page the four apes are retreating into the jungle as Tarzan struggles upon the back of Sheeta on the right-hand page.  Akut is near the middle of the scene, looking back at his savior.

6.  Chapter 4, p. 65 (small) the head of a lion.

7.  Chapter 5, p. 75 (full page)  "Tarzan conquers the Chief of the Wagambi" A magnificent full-page illustration of Tarzan standing over Mugambi on the shore of Jungle Island.  Tarzan is astride the native's legs facing the viewer with his left arm outstretched and his right arm raised.  Mugambi, seen from the back, has just been hurled to the ground.  His spear points toward the viewer, while his canoe rests upon the shore in the middleground.  The background with its curving beach and high clouds give this drawing great depth.  It is a brilliant composition.

V. Mugambi
8.  Chapter 5, p. 82 (small)  A terrified Mugambi meets Akut, who has an arm around his shoulders.

9,  Chapter 6, p. 84 (full page) " The war-canoe with its savage company"   Another splendid drawing reveals a canoe packed with 11 apes.  The sail is set, and Tarzan, nearest the viewer, is paddling, while Sheeta looks wet and unhappy with his front legs up on the gunwale seeming to wish he were ashore.  The canoe is tilted up and away from the viewer, and Mugambi is struggling with the tiller as they pass over a huge wave.  The sky is filled with billowing clouds that roll right down into the sea.  There is a feeling of movement and danger in this drawing with the apes all looking about in terror.

10.  Chapter 6, p. 99 (small)  Mugambi, identified by his head band and strange head gear pictured on page 75.  This is the first time his face is pictured with any detail.

VII. Betrayed: Upon the bank before the river stood the chiefVIII. The Dance of Death: Sheeta rescues TarzanVIII. The Dance of Death
11.  Chapter 7, p. 112 (full page) "Upon the bank before the river stood the Chief"  A native wearing a leopard skin with the tail attached raises a spear horizontally above his head.  He is a cannibal chief giving a signal to Rokoff that Tarzan is asleep in his village.  He wears the same, odd, bone-like head gear as Mugambi -- probably just the way St. John drew natives at this time rather than an indication of his tribe.  Also, he may have looked into the illustrations in Stanley's Through the Dark Continent.  On page 40 of volume 2, a man of the Ugara is pictured with a similar head dress.  Stanley notes on page 41, "The art of the coiffeur is better known here than in any portion of Africa east of Lake Tanganika.  The "waterfall" and "back-hair" styles are superb, and the constructions are fastened with carved wooden or iron pins."

12.  Chapter 8, p. 131 (full page)  "Sheeta rescues Tarzan"  Tarzan is bound to a stake with rather thin ropes wrapped around his body.  Sheeta slinks close to the ground in front of a steaming stew pot on an open fire.  It is one of St. John's masterly drawings.

13. Chapter 8, p. 132 (half-page)  Three cannibals in a wild dance with spears and shields.

IX: Chivalry or Villainy: Jane escapes from the KincaidIX. Chivalry or VillainyX. The Swede: Tarzan see the savage about to kill the white man
14.  Chapter 9, p. 142 (half-page with wrap-around text) "Jane escapes from the Kincaid" Jane with her baby wrapped in a blanket is rowed away by the Swede, Anderssen.  Half of the canoe disappears into the text in a clever design that causes the art of illustration to merge with the art of writing.

15.  Chapter 9, p. 148 (small) A tiny edge-of-the seascape with palm trees and a two-masted ship reflected on the water -- a dreamy little piece accomplished with minimum strokes of the pen.

16.  Chapter 10, p. 158 (full page) "Tarzan sees the savage about to kill the white man"  A muscular native is seen from the back about to plunge his spear into the Swede.  The white man is trying to rise from the ground, pushing with both arms, his shirt half torn from his body.  He is framed by a bush of delicate leaves.  St. John portrays what Tarzan sees.

X. The SwedeXI. TambudzaXI. TambudzaXII. A Black Scoundrel
17.  Chapter 10, p. 164 (small) The Swede is given a little drawing of himself as a young, healthy sailor.  In the story, it is the moment of his death.

18.  Chapter 11, p. 176-177 (two-page spread)  In a dramatic scene Tarzan raises his spear on the left page toward the native woman, Tambudza, on the right page; both cast tall shadows on the walls of the hut.  Tarzan is rendered extremely well, the way only St. John could show him -- the left arm away from the body, the youthful face, the stance of a panther.

19.  Chapter 12, p. 189 (small) The moustached Swede, Anderssen, holds a baby wrapped in a drooping blanket in his outstretched arms.

XII. A Black Scoundrel: Jane and the witch doctorXIII. Escape: Jane snatched the weapon from its holster
20.  Chapter 12, p.192 (half-page) "Jane and the witch doctor" Jane kneels, sitting on her haunches holding a baby wrapped in a blanket.  On the other side of a glowing fire and a small, earthen pot, the witch doctor kneels with one leg raised upon the skin of a great cat, dramatically raising both arms into the air.  He wears a cap made of antelope horns and waves the tail of a zebra across the smoke of the fire, sprinkling a few drops of liquid over the baby's face.

21.  Chapter 13, p. 205 (half-page with the drawing wrapped around part of the text)  "Jane snatched the weapon from its holster" The illustration shows the fingers of Jane's left-hand barely touching the butt of Rokoff's pistol.  His back is turned to her, startled by a noise at the tent door.  Rokoff is quite handsome, but he appears to be not much taller than Jane.  The fitting of this picture within the text demonstrates St. John's mastery of the magazine illustration, an art long past in our world.

XIV. Alone in the JungleXV. Down the Ugambi: Tarzan felt mighty jaws close upon his right legXV. Down the Ugambi: Tarzan felt mighty jaws close upon his right leg
22.  Chapter 13, p. 209 (small) Jane asleep in the crotch of a tree (which occurs on p. 216).  The moon shines on her face.  The bole of the tree extends toward the bottom of the page, forming a pleasing Y shape to the little picture.  It's really quite a remarkable drawing for its size.  St. John was a master at suggesting moods with a minimum of effort.  I suspect that all of these small drawings were much reduced in printing since the lines blur together, which was definitely not part of his clean-lined style.  And again, the thin, rag-like paper of my Burt edition is not the best for reproductions.

23.  Chapter 14, p. 224 (small) An evil-looking Rokoff peers from behind a tree.  The text on page 221 reads, "He watched her and her labors with a cruel and malicious grin upon his swarthy countenance."

24.  Chapter 15, p. 230-231 (two-page spread wrapped by the text) "Tarzan felt mighty jaws close upon his right leg"  A very dramatic scene involving a long canoe across both pages:  on the left page Tarzan hangs on the edge of the canoe with his right leg in a crocodile's mouth, while on the right page Rokoff stands with a paddle raised above his head about to strike the ape-man.  The borders of the two pages separate the picture so much that we can see that Tarzan is in no immediate danger of being struck, yet when we push the picture together with our imagination we see that Rokoff is actually much closer.  Both pages involve wrap-around text, making this one of te most effectively dramatic illustrations in the book.  However, the main action of this scene takes place on the previous two pages!

XVI. In the Darkness of NightXVI. In the Darkness of Night
25.  Chapter 16, p. 248-249 (two-page spread wrapped by the text) Tarzan, waving his arms and giving the awful cry of the bull-ape frightens bellicose natives.  This is another effective two-page spread.  Tarzan is near the top of the left-hand page while the running natives are mostly on the right-hand, running downhill to the bottom of the page.  Again, the action in the text takes place in the previous page.  These two-page scenes are very charming and give the story added movement.
XVII. On the Deck of the Kincaid: -- and then Sheeta sprangXVII. On the Deck of the KincaidXVIII. Paulvitch Plots Revenge
26.  Chapter 17, p. 266 (middle of page, text is wrapped) " -- and then Sheeta sprang"  Sheeta springs upon Rokoff.  The cat extends in a diagonal across the entire page toward Rokoff on his knees already knocked backwards by the weight of the beast.  There is a great flurry of outstretched arms, legs and Sheeta's tail accented by St. John's flowing hatch lines that surround the picture.
27.  Chapter 17, p. 269 (small) Sheeta gnaws on Rokoff's bones in the moonlight upon the deck of the Kincaid.  Grisly (and maybe gristly).

28.  Chapter 18, p. 274 (small) A native with a spear, calling presumably to his companions that the hated Paulvitch is passing through the jungle.

XVIII. Paulvitch Plots Revenge: -- nearer and nearer to the breast of the unconscious ladXVIII. Paulvitch Plots Revenge: Tarzan looks down from a treeXIX: The Last of the Kincaid
29.  Chapter 18, p. 278 (middle of page) " -- nearer and nearer to the breast of the unconscious lad"  Paulvitch points a pistol at a sleeping Mosula native asleep in his canoe.  In the story, he kills the lad, but the sleeping boy in the waterlilied, reed swamp is very charming, only emphasizing Paulvitch's evil nature.  There is a great deal of psychological depth in this simple drawing.

30.  Chapter 18, p. 290 (small)  Tarzan looks down from a tree.  A perfect little quadruple circle drawing:  Tarzan's head is the first (slightly off-center) circle, followed by his curved shoulders and back, echoed by the curve of the tree and branches, then faintly echoed by the curve of the leaves around the tree.  It's amazing how much compositional thought went into some of St. John's tiniest drawings.

31.  Chapter 19, p. 295 (small) "The last of the Kincaid"  A long-boat load of men pull across the water toward the viewer.  In the background a ship billows smoke into the sky.  The raised bow of the ship leaps toward the text and the reader.  Again, a very effective small drawing using simple means.

XX. Jungle Island Again
32.  Chapter 20, p. 298 (small) (a chapter heading)  In contrast to St. John's brilliant chapter headings for The Return of Tarzan, the illustrations for Beasts  are either among the text or at the end of the chapter; thus this chapter heading of a little drawing of Jungle Island seen across the expanse of the sea, under those billowing clouds that we saw again and again throughout the book, is doubly effective.  It comes as a surprise and highlights again the great variety of drawings he made for this book.  It's a "throwaway" oval drawing of a few lines that hits like a ton of brinks when we read the title of the chapter "Jungle Island Again."
XX. Jungle Island AgainXX. Jungle Island Again: Schneider reached for his revolver
33.  Chapter 20, p. 304 (small) Kai Shang, a tall, balding man dressed in a flowing robe whispers into the ear of Momulla the Maori, who is turbaned and bare-chested.  We see only their torsos from the front, Kai Shang's hand is on Momulla's shoulder.

34.  Chapter 20, p. 310 (middle of page, wrap-around text at top) "Schneider reached for his revolver"  Two white men, Schneider and Schmidt, are on the left.  Schmidt stands toward the viewer making a fist as Schneider spins on his toes, bent in the act of drawing his pistol.  On the upper right, Momulla stands with his right arm raised in greeting beneath the waving palm trees.

35.  Chapter 20, p. 315 (small) A wicked cannibal making a fist peers at the reader.

XX. Jungle Island AgainXXI. The Law of the Jungle: Grimly the fingers tightened upon the mate's throat
36.  Chapter 20, p. 316 (small)  A standing native holding beaters with both arms raised is pounding a large drum that he holds crosswise on a thong attached to his neck.  Native drums seem to pound in our ears when we think of Africa.  Stanley in his Through the Dark Continent writes of the drumming heard before native attacks, 32 of them sustained on his approach to the Congo (252 ). "Though hostilities has ceased, the drumming continued with unabated fury; bass and kettle-drums gave out a thunderous sound, which must have been heard to an immense distance" (206).

37.  Chapter 21, p. 332 (middle of page) "Grimly the fingers tightened upon the man's throat" Tarzan strangles Schneider upon the deck of the "Cowrie" while a horrified Jane looks on, half turned away from the scene.  Yet, Jane is no wilting Victorian maid, for she is reaching out a hand to Tarzan's shoulder to get him to stop.  "Not again," Tarzan says quietly as he snaps the man's neck and tosses the corpse aside with a gesture of disgust.

XXI. The Law of the Jungle
38.  Chapter 21, p. 337 (bottom half of page)  A sad Akut strides across the sand of Jungle Island; he pauses with one arm half raised in a pathetic waving goodbye.  . . . Jane and Tarzan, standing upon the deck, saw the lonely figure of the shaggy anthropoid, motionless upon the surf-beaten sands of Jungle Island."  It is a touching illustration, and the reader feels the same sadness that this great novel is over.


One can't say enough about this wonderful series of pen-and-ink drawings.  I found it very instructive to look carefully at each one as I wrote these descriptions since many of these pictures are passed over quickly as we turn the pages.  St. John's accomplishment in The Beasts of Tarzan  was outstanding.  He obviously had read the text and followed the story line in every case, yet his drawings expanded the psychological depth of the story by giving each picture a meaning of its own.  He links our subconscious feeling for his work in many of his drawings by the palm trees, but especially by the high, billowing clouds that seem to soar over even the tiniest pictures, giving them great expanse.  I know I'm getting old when I am struck by the  remarkable youth of these men and women.  Tarzan and Jane are only in their early 20's, but already they have lived a life-time of adventure.  It's amazing to think about the time and effort St. John put into this work for a single book.  It's a treasure that we are not likely to see again in our age of quick publishing.  Some of Mark Twain's books are as profusely illustrated, as are the Oz books of L. Frank Baum, but the art of pen-and-ink magazine and book illustration is sadly a thing of the past.  Even the popular Harry Potter books that to me cry out for hundreds of such brilliant illustrations go a-wanting.  There is no doubt in my mind that J. Allen St. John is the best of Burroughs' illustrators.  He captures the youthful spirit of the stories in a way that no other Burroughs illustrator has matched.  In comparison with the great Frank Frazetta, St. John may at times seem almost precious, especially in his drawing of the mangani, but it is this quality that gives each drawing an ageless, fairy tale depth that raises his art to the immortal.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice, The Beasts of Tarzan, Burt, 1917
Richardson, Darrell C., J. Allen St. John:  An Illustrated Bibliography, Mid-America, 1991
Stanley, Henry M., Through the Dark Continent, 2 vols with 149 illustrations, Dover, 1988

ERBzine 0485 Beasts of Tarzan Interior St. John Art I - Summary etc.
ERBzine 0486 Beasts of Tarzan Interior St. John Art  II complete with unpublished out-takes and alternates

For more information on the art and text of this novel, 
visit the
The St. John illustrations used here were 
re-sized from the originals for ease of loading
For larger-sized versions of these St. John illustrations see
ERBzine 0485  and ERBzine 0486

Nkima's Chattering From The Shoulder Series II
ERBzine 664
Nkima Chat Series II Intro
ERBzine 665
Chat 26: Tarzan of the Apes
African Adv. Story
Chat 27: Return of Tarzan
Some Thoughts. . .
ERBzine 667
Chat 28: Beasts of Tarzan
St. John Illustrations
ERBzine 668
Chat 29: Son of Tarzan
Thoughts About. . . 
ERBzine 669
Chat 30: Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
Two Psychological Investigations
ERBzine 670
Chat 31: Jungle Tales of Tarzan I
A Novelistic Reading I
ERBzine 671
Chat 32: Jungle Tales of Tarzan II Novelistic Reading: 12 Lunar Labors
ERBzine 672
Chat 33: Tarzan the Untamed: 
Imaginative Deaths of Enemies
ERBzine 791
Chat 34: Tarzan the Untamed: 
ERB's Book of the Lion
ERBzine 792
Chat 35: OFs of OB
ERBzine 793
Chat 36:
Tarzan and the War Against the Hun
ERBzine 794
Chat 37: The Convolutions of 
Tarzan and the Golden Lion 
ERBzine 795
Chat 38: Tarzan and the Ant Men
An Infantile Romance
ERBzine 796
Chat 39: Tarzan and the Ant Men
Lacanian Analysis
ERBzine 843
Chat 40: Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins
A Story for Children of All Ages
ERBzine 396
Nkima'sChattering From The Shoulder
Main Introduction and Contents Page
ERBzine 844
Chat 41: Tarzan the Magnificent
Tarzan and the Magic Women Pt. 1

Issue 0667

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