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Volume 7356

"Exploring Tarzanís Africa"
by Alan Hanson

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"Exploring Tarzanís Africa"
by Alan Hanson

For me, the publication of Exploring Tarzanís Africa is a long deferred vision finally realized. Iíve been writing articles about Edgar Rice Burroughsí Tarzan stories for decades. My first one, ďThe Allegory of the Ape-man,Ē appeared in Pete Ogdenís fanzine ERBANIA in 1977. Since then Iíve written several dozen articles about Tarzan for ERB fanzines and journals. 

Although Iíve enjoyed writing the articles, Iíve long harbored to a desire to write a book about Tarzan. I took a small step in that direction with the creation of Waziri Publications, a brand I created in 1990 for self-publishing projects. In 1990 I published A Tarzan Chrono-log, but it was not the kind of Tarzan book Iíd been dreaming about. I wanted something more thoughtful; something that would identify and explain the various elements that Burroughs brought together to create his magnificent Tarzan tapestry. In the summer of 2020, that vision piqued my interest again, and so I started down the road on the project, knowing I might end up abandoning it, as I had several times in the past.

What to Include?
The contents of the proposed book were obviously my first concern. I had already written articles about some of principal characters and themes consistently present in ERBís Tarzan stories. They included the physical Tarzan, Jane, Tarzan in the trees, the Waziri, Tarzanís country, Nkima, Tarzanís victory cry, Tantor, La, and Tarzanís diet. Even though many of these articles have appeared in the quarterly issues compiled by the Edgar Rice Burroughs Amateur Press Association (ERB-APA), I felt free to use them again in my book. After all, the readership of ERB-APA mailings was limited. Those essays would be new to the eyes of the wider community of Burroughs and Tarzan fans.

I realized, though, that I would have to write sections about other Tarzan themes. I had never written anything about the Mangani apes, and what would any Tarzan book be without including them? The same went for Jad-bal-ja, the golden lion. Also, I felt something about Tarzanís spirituality had to be addressed. So, over the course of a few months, I worked on essays about those three subjects. The Mangani theme was particularly difficult to cover. Burroughs provided so much information about his unique species of great apes that my original draft on them ran over 40,000 words. Since that was triple the length of any other chapter in the planned book, I went back and cut out about 7,000 words. In the end, the Mangani chapter was still twice as long as any other section in the book. For the record, the chapters on the Mangani, Jad-bal-ja, and Tarzanís spirituality are published in Exploring Tarzanís Africa for the first time.

Eventually, I reached a place where I was happy with the bookís text. I proofread it all twice, which took some time, as the 15 chapters and the Preface run a total of almost 150,000 words. Along the way, I consulted through email with John Martin, my fellow ERB aficionado in Washington State, and when I mentioned that all the text was ready to go, he offered to proofread it again. Since itís always a good idea to have a second set of eyes go over something youíve written before publication, I took John up on his offer. Iím glad I did. In addition to finding many errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, John spotted some repetitive references in the text, which convinced me to remove or alter some passages. 

A Title and Illustrations?
After settling on the themes of the 15 chapters (see list below), a good title for the book was needed. John and I tossed around some possibilities before I finally settled on Exploring Tarzanís Africa. The next step was coming up with some illustrations. I knew there had to be many of them in the book. A mass of 150,000 words, uninterrupted by some visual images, would kill any readerís interest. As I wanted to keep the cost of the book down, paying an illustrator for a couple dozen originals was out of the question. For three reasons, I decided to go exclusively with J. Allen St. John illustrations. First, there was no expense involved in using them. Second, since St. John produced so much Tarzan artwork, I could find appropriate scenes to accompany almost all of the chapter themes. Finally, and most importantly, as I grew up reading the Tarzan stories, St. Johnís artwork was the visual framework that accompanied them. For me, and Iím sure for many other readers of Burroughsí Tarzan books, St. Johnís artwork was an integral visual part of the ape-manís life story.

I searched through my G&D reprints and even a few McClurg editions to find St. John illustrations that fit with each chapter in Exploring Tarzanís Africa. I found and scanned 15 images, along with one more to use as a frontispiece. On the page facing the start of each chapter of Exploring Tarzanís Africa is a St. John illustration. Each measures approximately 4 ¾Ē by 7 ½Ē. Scattered in appropriate places within the text are a dozen other St. John illustrations from The Beasts of Tarzan and The Son of Tarzan. Altogether, then, there are 28 St. John illustrations in Exploring Tarzanís Africa. (The only non-St. John artwork in the book is a Frank Hoban drawing on the title page.)

Next on the checklist was the cover artwork. My favorite St. John image of Tarzan has always been the archer scene from Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. Since I knew Bob Zeuschner had high resolution scans of much of St. Johnís work, I contacted him. He graciously emailed me scans of several different colorized versions of the archer artwork, from which I picked the one I liked the best for the front cover. Bob also provided the scan of the St. John color painting used on the back cover.

How Many Copies?
With all of interior pages and the cover then in place, all that remained was to find a printer. The setup would be the same one used on my two previous Waziri Publications books ó Heritage of the Flaming God and A Tarzan Chrono-log ó 8 ½Ē by 11Ē size with full color laminated paper covers and ďperfect binding.Ē For the previous two volumes, I used a printer in Florida. With an eye to keep shipping costs down, this time I chose Alpha Graphics, a printing company in Seattle. Just two weeks after I sent them pdfs of the cover design and interior pages, I had a proof copy of the book in my hands.

The last decision I had to make before the presses rolled was how many copies to order. Since I still have plenty of copies of both Heritage of the Flaming God and A Tarzan Chrono-log laying around the house, I was determined that this time I wouldnít be stuck with a pile of unsold copies. Although it would be nice if Exploring Tarzanís Africa appealed to a wide swath of the reading public, I judged that most likely it was going to be a niche book of interest mostly to ERB and Tarzan buffs. Marketing opportunities would be limited. As it appears it could be a couple of years before well-attended Dum-Dums and ECOFs are held, sales of Exploring Tarzanís Africa would depend on word-of-mouth advertising and through posts on internet forums like talk groups, websites, and Facebook. Therefore, I decided on a print run of only 100 copies.

Making money was never my motivation in publishing Exploring Tarzanís Africa. In fact, Iím almost guaranteed not to make money on it, since Iíve priced the 100 copies at my cost of printing and shipping them. If I donít sell them all, Iíll lose money. If I sell them all, Iíll break even. The bottom line for me is that, finally, Exploring Tarzanís Africa has been published. When Iím not around anymore, these 15 essays in Exploring Tarzanís Africa will still exist. That means something to me.

Ordering Information
The cost of Exploring Tarzanís Africa is $29.95 + $5.00 for media rate shipping anywhere in the United States. (I can ship to Canada, but the U.S. Postal Service shipping rate for there is $32.) Payment can be made on PayPal to my email address ó I also will accept checks and money orders sent to my home address: Alan Hanson, 12007 N. Atlantic St., Spokane, WA 99218. Orders will be processed on a first come, first served basis. All orders will be shipped the next business day after they are received. Questions can be addressed to my email address above.

Exploring Tarzanís Africa
Chapter Titles

  1. The Allegory of the Ape-man
  2. The Physical Tarzan
  3. Tarzan of the Trees
  4. Tarzanís Country: Backdrop for a Morality Play
  5. The Mangani: ďThe Hairy Men of the ForestĒ
  6. Jane: From Baltimore Belle to Diana of the Jungle
  7. The Waziri: From Primitive to Colonial Tribe
  8. Tantor: Dreadnaught of the Jungle
  9. The Women of Opar
10. Jad-bal-ja: The Great Black-Maned Golden Lion
11. Nkima: Tarzanís Jungle Friend and Confidant
12. Tarzanís Victory Cry and Other Feral Sounds
13. The Spiritual Tarzan
14. Tarzanís Hunger Game
15. The Hideous Hunter: The Death of Tarzan

. .
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