WELCOME BACK, CARTER
An editorial of sorts by series
writer, Marv Wolfman
In 1963, while making my regular
rounds of the bookstores, a nasty habit I've yet to shake, I came across
a paperback book titled A PRINCESS OF MARS. I didn't know at that time
that the author, whose name was in bold copy over the title, was the same
man who created the TARZAN character I enjoyed. The cover was not exactly
exciting, after all, I grew up with comic books, but something about eh
book roused an interest in me, and so I scooped it up, paid the 50 cents
(inflation, sigh) and immersed myself in the fantasy world this Edgar Rice
Burroughs writer was about to put me through.
It was not until I read all ten
books that I finally let up. I was hooked, I loved John Carter and Dejah
Thoris and Tars Tarkas and the zillions of other characters on Mars, or
Barsoom, if you will.
Let's continue our timeward trek.
Being a comics fan, I somehow gravitated toward becoming a comics professional.
I began writing scripts for various companies, but I was writing basically
to support my way through college, where I was studying to become a big-time
art teacher. Rather than ramble on about the wonderful time I had in that
profession, let me hasten to say that after one term I fled with my life
and returned to comics. A friend told me that Joe Kubert at D.C. was looking
for an assistant editor, and so, summoning up my courage, I asked for and
got the job, only to learn that D.C had just acquired the rights for TARZAN
, which Joe was to draw. Wow! I was ecstatic! But there was more. There
would be a backup feature. Yes, of course you guessed it -- John Carter.
The same character I grew up with.
After assassinating all competitors,
Joe gave me the assignment, and I was off and away. True, the first few
issues were so badly scripted Joe ended up rewriting virtually everything.
But I was at least plotting the book while bettering myself as a writer,
and so, by the time JOHN CARTER and company moved into another magazine,
I was the full scripter, and remained such until the book folded, which
happened to coincide with my coming to Marvel, where I've been ever since.
By the by, although I've never
mentioned this publicly before, when Rascally Roy Thomas hired me on as
his assistant, he permitted me to write the two final chapters of JOHN
CARTER for D.C. while working on staff at Marvel. He knew how much I enjoyed
handling that character, and I went to take this time and thank Roy. It
meant a lot. I mean that.
All, right, timeward bound again.
It is now the spring of 1976. I had just left the full-time editing job
at Marvel to bask in the glory of a staff writer/editor, which among other
things allowed me to wake up at 9:00 instead of 7:00. Ahh, glory. At this
time, EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, Inc., decided to take their characters back
and publish them by themselves in Europe. As editor, they hired a good
friend, Mark Evenier -- who some of you may remember as a writer for MARVEL
MANIA, others will recognize as a writer for Gold Key, and almost all of
you know as the recently added name under Story Editor for the WELCOME
BACK, KOTTER t.v. show. (say, where have we heard that name before? You
stealing our editorial title?). Anyhow, Mark knowing I would slay anyone
to handle the new Carter series, immediately asked me to write it. Dave
Cockrum was the artist. Dave had completed three pages before the news
went out that Burroughs decided to work with Marvel on TARZAN and CARTER,
Stan called Roy and gave him
the news, as Roy was scheduled to handle TARZAN, and though the Rascally
One was also a JOHN CARTER fan, he suggested to Stan that I would be interested
in handing that title. Thanks a second that title. Thanks a second time,
Roy. Boy, the gold stars are piling up.
So here we are. The pencil chores
went to Garrulous Gil Kane, and a better artist anywhere you can hope to
find. Years ago, in my halcyon days as a far-out fanzine editor., I once
called Gil the best action artist in comics. I still believe that today.
Along with Gil, on this first issue at least. Dave Cockrum applied his
incredible inks to give Carter and Company a distinctive look that future
embellishers will emulate.
The lettering chores went to
Joe Rosen, while this year's FOOM winner for best colorist, Glitzy Glynis
Wein, added her distinctive style to the book.
And now, the question is, just
what are we going to do with JOHN CARTER?
Let's start by saying what we
won't do. We won't be adapting the novels, at least for the present. INstead
we'll be building on Burroughs' work in a way never before dreamed possible.
For time-chronolgy buffs, the Carter stories will be taking place between
paragraphs three and four in Chapter 27 of A PRINCESS OF MARS. There is
a nine year gap here that has never been fully explored until now. Carter
will b a new addition on Barsoom, and you'll be able to discover Mars even
as he does. Needless to say, we hope you'll become as enthusiastic with
JOHN CARTER, WARLORD OF MARS, as Gil and I undoubtedly are.
We'd also like to thank Dave
Cockrum for supplying us with his original layouts and character designs
for the art on these pages. Dave did this for himself, never intending
it to be printed, but we felt we could not let this part of Marvel's
Burroughs history go unpublished.
From time to time we'll be including other pictures of Barsoomian life
from Dave's sketchbook.
Speaking of which, we obviously
do not have a title for our lettercol, and so once again we ask you, Marvelite,
for ideas. The one who submits the winning name will get a specially engraved
Martian no-prize autographed by Gil, Marv, and Dave.
And while you're at it, don't
forget to pick up our other Burroughs mag, namely everyone's favourite
vine-swinger, TARZAN OF THE APES, written by the oft-mentioned Roy Thomas,
and illustrated by the unbeatable Big John Buscema.
Take care, people, and remember,
in the words of a certain Warlord of Mars, "I Still Live!"