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PUSHING THE ENVELOPE XXV
Envelope Packet 244
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. 244
A Century of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
One of the directions Edgar Rice Burroughs envisioned for his life was to be a military man. And he had ample background for it, having graduated from the Michigan Military Academy and then serving in the 7th Cavalry, pursuing renegades in Arizona.
But illness, as we know, cut short his military career, although he continued to have an active interest in the armed services the rest of his life.
His father had been a major in the Union Army during the Civil War, so he certainly had a family background to stir his yearnings at an early age.
He did try, unsuccessfully, to enroll at West Point and also tried, later, to join up with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.
He served as an officer in the Illinois Militia during World War I and he happened to be living in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, and watched the attack on Pearl Harbor through binoculars. He was in his late 60s by then and too old to serve in an active duty status but tried to help the war effort by serving in the Businessmen's Military Training Corps, a civilian group organized to help defend the islands in the event of a Japanese landing and invasion. But that didn't satisfy his desire to be where the action was, so he was able to get certification as a reporter and served as the oldest war correspondent in the Pacific Theatre, traveling about in tactical zones on Navy ships and Army planes.
His only other real experience in uniform was as a railroad policeman in Utah for a short time, one of many jobs he had tried earlier in life to support his young family.
From an early age, Burroughs had enjoyed drawing cartoons and writing fantasy stories to entertain family members. But he probably never actually considered becoming a professional writer until 1911 when he was managing a business that sold pencil sharpeners. While his crew of salesmen were out on the streets knocking on doors, Burroughs sat in the office and amused himself by reading adventure stories in pulp magazines, one of the major entertainments of the day. It is famously reported that he thought that if people could get paid for writing such rotten stories that he could write stories just as rotten.
So he began writing what he believed was a ridiculous story about a Civil War veteran, John Carter, who was mysteriously transported to the planet Mars where there were tall green men, multi-limbed beasts and, fortunately, people quite a bit like himself, including a beautiful princess who needed constant rescuing.
The story, "Under the Moons of Mars," was snapped up by The All-Story magazine and serialized in early 1912. He was paid $400 but, though he had little experience in such things, he was smart enough to sell only the first-publication rights to his "rotten story."
Enthused by the big money he had been paid, he wrote a second story, "The Outlaw of Torn," about adventure in Medieval England. It didn't sell as easily so he wrote a third story, "Tarzan of the Apes," for which he was paid $700 by All-Story. Things were looking up!
Burroughs continued to dream up fantastic stories and write and sell them. His stories were enthusiastically read by his new fans and thus eagerly sought by magazine and book publishers. Even "The Outlaw of Torn" finally got into print.
He continued to write Tarzan and Mars stories and invented an inner world, populated with people and dinosaurs, for yet more adventure sagas, and took his readers to the moon, Venus and to exotic islands where other pulse-pounding adventures awaited his heroes and heroines. He also wrote four westerns -- two traditional cowboy stories and two historical novels telling stories from the Native American perspective.
And because he was smart enough to maintain control of his intellectual properties by selling only first-publication rights, he was able to more than double his money on each new story by selling them first to magazines and then later to book publishers, and was able to sell his characters -- most notably Tarzan -- to movie makers.
And while other authors were making names for themselves in the usual ways, Burroughs had an idea to do something none of them had thought of: He incorporated himself.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., was created on March 26, 1923, and the company he founded recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of that landmark event.
ERB Inc., located on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, Calif., the Los Angeles area community which took its name from Burroughs's most famous character, is set back from the main drag and its presence partially obscured by trees and bushes. Even with the street address, some seekers have had difficulty finding it.
But its small but busy staff today continues to publish his books under the ERB Inc. imprint, another innovation Burroughs came up with later in his career, when he eliminated the middle man by no longer offering his novels to existing book companies, publishing his books himself. The first of these was "Tarzan the Invincible," which came out in 1931. These were finer editions, with mostly sturdy blue-pebbled binding and a uniform format.
ERB Inc. has also opened the door to new stories about the characters and settings ERB created, and has published them in two series: The Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe.
The company held an open house at its office on April 7, to celebrate the anniversary and has promised "more exciting announcements throughout the year."
As my fan contribution to the legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I created this commemorative postal cover and arranged with the USPS to have my covers canceled with a Tarzana, Calif., postmark on Sunday, March 26, the 100th anniversary. I used the Edgar Rice Burroughs Forever stamp which was issued in 2012.
The cover shows a photo of Burroughs in his younger days, during the prime of his writing activity, and displays the covers of three of his books that were published in 1923.
Two days before Edgar Rice Burroughs set up his corporation, his ninth Tarzan novel, "Tarzan and the Golden Lion," was published.
A few months later, on August 10, 1923, "The Girl from Hollywood" was published as the last Burroughs novel to be copyrighted by him alone. The first book to have the "Inc." added to his copyright name was "Pellucidar," a novel about the inner world he created, which came out on Sept. 5, 1923.
"The Girl from Hollywood" was a contemporary novel which had no wild monsters for heroes to conquer, but rather the monster of drug addiction which a young starlet had to overcome with her own resolve. Burroughs used the setting of his own Tarzana ranch and the lifestyle of his own family as a backdrop for "The Girl from Hollywood."
March 26 is also the publication date for "Llana of Gathol," the last book to be published in Burroughs's lifetime and, at the time, the last volume in Burroughs's 10-book Martian series. "Llana" was published in 1948 and Burroughs died March 19, 1950, at the age of 74 and a half.
But Burroughs left several unpublished manuscripts behind and just over 10 years after his death, in the early 1960s, most of those stories began to see print, including two more Mars short stories, two Tarzan novels, an historical novel taking place during the reign of Roman emperor Caligula, and several other stories.
Note: A slightly edited version of the above account was printed and included inside each of the 100th anniversary postal covers I made.
Pushing the Envelope No. 245
Going Global with Tarzan and Jane
Disney made several different snow globe scenes among the many different Tarzan and Jane items it made to tie in with its 1999 animated version of "Tarzan." The one pictured shows the ape man and Jane both navigating a tree limb, with Disney jungle characters gathered outside.
There's no snow falling in the jungle, but shake the globe and you get a shower of glitter instead.
When the Postal Service issued its 2023 Christmas stamps on Sept. 19, the booklet of 20 stamps featured four different designs of typical winter or Christmas scenes. I took a picture of my own Tarzan snow globe and printed out several copies, then clipped them and glued them onto envelopes to obtain the first-day-of-issue cancellation on the stamps.
Pushing the Envelope No. 246
REMEMBERING BUSTER CRABBE
I made a trip to the Post Office this morning to obtain cancellations on these four postal covers on Buster Crabbe's birthday, Feb. 7.
These Buster Crabbe stamps are "Cinderellas," not good for actual postage, but I teamed each of the four stamps with a good USPS stamp that tied in a bit with the subject matter.
Each of the stamps is of Crabbe in his role as Tarzan, but I made just one Tarzan cover design, for his role in the 1933 serial, "Tarzan the Fearless." The other three covers celebrate his roles as Flash Gordon (with the Webb Telescope stamp), Buck Rogers (with a U.S. moon landing stamp) and his many, many roles in westerns, with a cactus flower stamp. (A few of these western covers used the Western Wear stamp instead).
Crabbe first played a wild jungle man, Kaspa, the Lion Man, in "King of the Jungle," and later in 1933 he took on the Tarzan role.
He made Flash Gordon serials in 1936, 1938 and 1940, and starred as Buck Rogers in a 1939 serial.
He also appeared as "Brigadier Gordon" in "Planet of the Slave Girls," a 1979 episode of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," which starred Gil Gerard in the title role.
He was the star of multiple westerns and also had a 1955-57 television series, "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion." Three of the 65 episodes were spliced together to make a movie, "Desert Outpost."
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