"Exploring Tarzanís Africa"
by Alan Hanson
For me, the publication of
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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