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PUSHING THE ENVELOPE XXIII
Envelope Packets 237a - 241
by John Martin
My "other hobby," buying, exchanging, making and mailing postal art covers,
ties in with my Edgar Rice Burroughs hobby quite a bit.
I enjoy making covers featuring Tarzan or other ERB characters,
and friends of mine have made and mailed me such covers as well.
I thought it would be fun to start scanning and sharing such covers
on the anniversaries of the dates they were originally postmarked.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 237a
Seeing that Superman's 85th anniversary was nigh, I dug through my file folder full of comic art I've clipped from catalogs and magazines and put together a few covers for the 85th anniversary of Superman's first appearance in the first issue of Action Comics, April 18, 1938.
I went to a local post office and got them canceled with today's date. I'll put these inside larger envelopes to keep them from getting machinery markings and mail them tomorrow to few folks in my postal cover club, the Art Cover Exchange.
According to the website, invaluable.com:
"Inspiration for Superman came from multiple sources. Writer Jerry Siegel loosely based the storyline on the John Carter of Mars books, a series about a Civil War soldier who travels to Mars and realizes he is extremely powerful due to the weak gravity there. Joe Shuster’s drawings mimic the poses and mannerisms of Douglas Fairbanks, an action movie star from the silent era."
Lois tried to warn Clark that his necktie might give away his secret identity.
The stamps show Superman leaping over the Empire State Building in a single bound.
The Postal Service just issued some "Art of the Skateboard" stamps.
So I turned this Superman image into skateboard art to go along with the stamp.
Bugs Bunny casts an admiring glance at the real Superman.
George Reeves was Superman for the generation of my youth,
and he could fly faster than sound-barrier breaker Chuck Yeager.
The first appearance of Superman was in Action Comics No.1 and
the most recent portrayal, on the Silver Screen, has been by Henry Cavill.
The super hero who started out on cheap paper in Action Comics
is now being reprinted in expensive, leather-bound collections by Easton Press.
The Superman family expanded with Supergirl and with Krypto, the Super Dog.
And it was all to benefit truth, justice and the American way.
Both Superman and the Empire State Building, over which he can easily leap, came on the scene in the 1930s
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE No. 238
King Kong is still top banana at age 90.
When Kong fell off the Empire State Building in New York, he didn't actually die. Knocked unconscious, he got up later (to the great relief of the Big Apple's sanitation crews which had been charged with removal of the remains) and went on to appear over and over again down through the years in various sequels and remakes of his classic 1933 debut film, which is observing its 90th anniversary this spring.
The movie was first released only in New York itself on March 2, 1933, and turned loose in other theaters on April 7, 1933.
Another thriller, "The Most Dangerous Game," was filmed at the same time with some of the same backgrounds as "King Kong," and with some of the same cast members, notably Fay Wray, who played Ann Darrow, the apple of Kong's eye and his screaming captive. In "Game," she played Eve Trowbridge, a woman held captive in the castle of the evil Count Zaroff, a ruthless hunter who had tired of killing wild animals and was in the habit of testing his skills against human prey. He finds such a potential victim in big game hunter Robert "Bob" Rainsford, who swims to the island after a shipwreck.
Another actor who appears in both films is the 6'2" Noble Johnson, who played Zaroff's sinister servant as well as the chief of the natives on Skull Island in "King Kong."
"Game" made it to theaters before "King Kong," being released on Sept. 16, 1932.
King Kong, as every schoolboy knows, was captured after Ann Darrow's rescuers, Jack Driscoll and Carl Denham, had saved her. Kong was somehow transported to New York without breaking free and sinking the ship as it sailed from the island in the Indian Ocean to the U.S.
In a 2016 novel by Will Murray though, "King Kong vs. Tarzan," the big ape does manage to have an encounter with Tarzan of the Apes in the African jungle.
Kong has turned in performances in various sizes over the years. Originally, director Merian C. Cooper envisioned Kong as being "40 to 50 feet tall", but animator Willis O'Brien and his crew built the models and sets scaling Kong to be only 18 feet tall on Skull Island, and rescaled to be 24 feet tall in New York. Talk about a growth spurt! There's nothing like fresh saltwater air to give one's health a jump start.
In the 1976 film, Kong was scaled to be 42 feet tall on Skull island and rescaled to be 55 feet tall in New York.
I made two different postal covers to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the national April 7, 1933, release of King Kong. I had them postmarked April 7, 2023, at a post office in Galvin, Washington. Both covers feature stamps with prehistoric beasts like the big ape had to deal with on Skull Island.
One of the covers includes a 13-cent stamp issued in 1977 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of talking motion pictures, along with two of the four 25-cent stamps of prehistoric beasts issued in 1989. The rates of the three stamps equal the current first-class postage rate of 63 cents. The other covers have one of the four Tyrannosaurus Rex Forever stamps issued in 2019.
King Kong commemorated with postal cancellation on 90th anniversary of nationwide release of his first film. Used a 13-cent stamp issued in 1977 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of talking motion pictures, along with two of the four 25-cent stamps of prehistoric beasts issued in 1989. The rates of the three stamps equal the current first-class postage rate of 63 cents.
Remembering King Kong with a postal cancellation on the 90th anniversary of his film's nationwide debut. This cover has one of the four Tyrannosaurus Rex Forever stamps issued in 2019.
Pushing the Envelope No. 239
HARRY BELAFONTE & DENNY MILLER
Harry Belafonte, who died Tuesday at age 96, was the King of Calypso and a lot of other things, including actor and activist. I made an "In Memory" cover for Belafonte, postmarked the day of his death, and in the process of looking at his life events I remembered that he and his friend, Sidney Poitier, had starred in the western "Buck and the Preacher" (1972). The movie also featured one of our favorite Tarzans, Denny Miller, as a bad guy named Floyd.
In his autobiography, "Didn't You Used To Be What's His Name?", Denny devoted a chapter to his work on that movie. He noted that despite his experience from riding horses in 110 episodes of "Wagon Train," he still hadn't mastered the art of horsemanship: "...people could still read a newspaper between my butt and the saddle." So he was thankful for his stunt double, Walter Scott, who did a lot of the horse-riding for him and "...rode all over that high desert and made me look great."
Denny has the experience of being killed by Belafonte, who plays The Preacher. "Harry Belafonte's role as a preacher is like no other preacher on film. Ever!" wrote Denny.
"You can't call that Preacher's Bible 'The good book.' It's really a holster. It's a handy place to hide a double-barreled, sawed-off shotgun. When Harry's preacher takes up a collection, he really TAKES a collection. "When I peek over a rock to get a good shot at Harry, he blasts me with that shotgun."
It was quite a process, with Denny given reassurance before hand that the gun would contain harmless sponge-like shot (no Alec Baldwin goof-ups here!). Nonetheless, it stung badly and he was dosed with a lot of Murine. But they said he had flinched too soon so they had to reshoot it. And then it took two gallons of Murine!
The stamp on the cover is a 2017 commemorative picturing and celebrating the opening of the Historical Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Pushing the Envelope No. 239a
ERB's Worlds of Tuskers
When the Postal Service issued an elephant stamp last August, I knew right away that I would be making some Tarzan first-day covers as well as elephant covers.
I used a photo of '60s Tarzan Gordon Scott on my main Tarzan cover, along with a picture of a book called "Tantor, the African Elephant." The word "Tantor," of course, was created by Burroughs as the word for elephant in the fictional language he created for the great apes who raised Tarzan. The "Tantor" book, by Joseph Maniscalco, contains multiple illustrations and is all about the African elephants. It does not mention Tarzan. However, I added Tarzan's name to the top of the cover and included the photo of Scott.
Edgar Rice Burroughs put elephants and elephantine creatures in many of his stories, starting with his very first one, "Under the Moons of Mars," when he mentioned a Barsoomian creature known as a Zitidar. He didn't describe the beast, other than to say it was like a mastadon. But Barsoomian animals had more than four legs so no one knew how many legs a Zitidar had. So, artists have depicted them in a variety of ways.
Next up was Tantor the elephant, who appeared in the first Tarzan book and he and his fellow pachyderms were a staple of many future stories. Tarzan even encountered Indian elephants in "Tarzan and the Castaways" and "Tarzan and 'The Foreign Legion'."
Indian elephants were also found in "Jungle Girl."
Mammoths and mastadons both walk the plains of the inner world land of Pellucidar, as did a Dinotherium of the Miocene, which showed up briefly in "Tarzan at the Earth's Core."
Pushing the Envelope No. 240
From Beyond the Palm Springs Star
Simon Vozick-Levinson, New York City, noticed that a special cancellation was being offered for Edgar Rice Burroughs to tie in with placement of a star for ERB on the Palm Springs Walk of the Stars. Knowing I was an ERB fan, Simon mailed two covers to the Palm Springs Post Office, one on which he had added some art and the other on which he had placed some stickers to show the route of this interstellar mail journey.
The Palm Springs Post Office canceled both and sent the white, No. 10 envelope to me inside the brown No. 12 envelope. The white envelope has a stamp that reads: "Celebrate," which is what fans did when they gathered for unveiling of the star in early April.Thanks, Simon!
Pushing the Envelope No. 241
Who you gonna call on?
When John Wayne's in trouble, he knows who to call on to get help.
Such a plea would have gone unanswered, since Tarzan was not in "Hatari," but you can't blame the Duke for trying!
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