The First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages and Webzines in Archive
Volume 0802
Edgar Rice Burroughs

 A Collector's 
Hypertexted and Annotated Storehouse 
of Encyclopedic Resources

 The ERBzine Comics Summaries Project
Wherein we attempt to summarize the many stories inspired by ERB characters that are found in newspaper dailies, Sunday pages, trading cards, comic books, premiums, graphic novels, TV animated series, etc.


Tarzan®  the famous jungle man created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is one of the most widely known characters in modern fiction, having appeared in books, movies and on television. A legendary hero, Tarzan enjoys the distinction of starring in the first adventure comic strip, the first continuity strip, and the first strip to appeal to generation after generation for more than seven decades.

The Lord of the Jungle made his first appearance in a daily comic strip in 1929. In 1930 United Feature Syndicate (UFS) took over the syndication of Tarzan and launched the first Sunday comic in 1931. UFS continues to syndicate Tarzan as newly-created Sunday comics and classic dailies.

Rex Maxon #1 - March 15, 1931 to #28 - September 20, 1931
Hal Foster #29 - September 27, 1931 to #321 - May 2, 1937
Burne Hogarth #322 May 9, 1937 to #768 - November 25, 1945
Rubimore (Ruben Moreira) #769 - Dec. 2, 1945 to #856 - Aug. 3, 1947
Burne Hogarth #857 - August 10, 1947 to #1015 - August 20, 1950
Bob Lubbers #1016 - August 27, 1950 to #1198 - February 21, 1954
John Celardo #1199 - February 28, 1954 to #1922 - January 7, 1968
Russ Manning #1923 - January 14, 1968 to 1979
Gil Kane 1979 - 1981
Mike Grell 1981 - 1983
Gray Morrow 1983 to 2001
For a more detailed listing of the Sunday strips
go to Bill Hillman's
ERB and the Press
The ERBzine Comics Encyclopedia
Read the United Features Tarzan Sunday and Daily strips

Hal Foster - signature

Hal Foster

Harold Rudolph Foster
1892 - 1982
Harold Rudolph Foster was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on August 16, 1892. Many of his English-Prussian ancestors had been seafarers from whom Hal inherited a love of the sea, the outdoors, and adventure. At eight-years-old, he captained a 12-foot raft (actually a plank) across Halifax Harbor. By ten he was skippering a 30-foot sloop in the Atlantic. 

His father died when he was four and in 1906 his financially-strapped stepfather moved the family to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here he excelled in many sports: boxing, lacrosse, hockey, rugby, football, and baseball. Harold was largely self-educated as the failing family fortunes forced him to leave school in grade nine. He developed a passion for art. He immediately began a course of self-education at The Winnipeg Carnegie Library. To learn anatomy Hal would go to his room and sketch himself nude in front of an old cracked mirror. His artistic influences included E.A. Abbey, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, James Montgomery Flagg, and N.C. Wyeth. He helped support the family and pay for art school by hunting and fishing. His first art job was doing illustrations for the Hudson Bay Company mail order catalogue starting in 1910 and he later moved into freelancing. 

Hudson Bay Co. Department Store ~ Winnipeg, Manitoba
He met and married Helen Wells in 1915. Later, when he could not find enough work as an artist to support a wife and two small children, he found work as a wilderness guide and prospector in the Canadian Shield area of Manitoba and Ontario. They found a "million dollar claim" which they worked the gold mine for nearly three years before claim jumpers stole it from them.
Hal Foster on Portage in N. ManitobaWinnipeg Main Street circa 1920
Hal and family returned to Winnipeg where he resumed his art career but, in 1919, decided to scout out the more lucrative market in Chicago. To cut costs he left Helen and the kids in Winnipeg and made the thousand-mile trip by bicycle. Within hours after his arrival in the windy city in he was robbed and had to wire back home for emergency funds. Eventually, in 1921, he moved the family down to Chicago.

Foster took a job with the Jahn & Ollier Engraving Company and enrolled in evening classes at the Chicago Art Institute. He later supplemented this education with night classes at the National Academy of Design and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He eventually found work with major advertising firms such as the prestigious Palenske-Young Studio illustrating ads and magazine covers. He produced work for Northwest Paper, Popular Mechanics, Jekle Margarine, Southern Pacific Railroad, Illinois Pacific Railroad, and others.

In 1927, Joseph H. Neebe, an associate of Foster's, went to Tarzana, California to meet with Edgar Rice Burroughs. Neebe, founder of "Famous Books and Plays, Inc." had originated the idea of adapting popular material into comic strips. Neebe wanted to adapt Tarzan of the Apes into a cartoon strip and Burroughs agreed. Originally, Neebe approached Tarzan cover artist J. Allen St. John to do the adaptation, but St. John declined once he learned what the deadlines were. Neebe then offered the job of adapting Burroughs' first Tarzan novel to his colleague, Foster.  "I had no instructions at all, just the book." Foster claimed, "I did the adaptation myself." When he finished his adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes, he had drawn 300 panels comprising 60 daily strips, each consisting of five captioned panels. Despite the high quality of this series, it was a bit of a hard sell. Eventually, however, it debuted on January 7, 1929 in about a dozen US and Canadian newspapers -- including the Halifax Chronicle. 

Although Dick Calkin's Buck Rogers also debuted on that day, it was Foster's sense of realism, composition, draftsmanship, and his fluid anatomy that would forever mark him as "The Father of the Adventure Strip." His story-strip technique of using captions instead of word balloons allowed him to create compositions containing amazingly detailed backgrounds unhindered by text. The Tarzan strips were published in hardcover book format by Grosset and Dunlap in August of 1929. 

Chicago's Art Institute.     .Grosset and Dunlap compilation of the Foster Tarzan Dailies

Reader response to the strips was overwhelming and distribution was taken over by United Features Syndicate.  Foster, however, considered himself an artist first and felt cartooning was an inferior medium and went back to advertising. 

Metropolitan artist Rex Maxon was then hired to take over the strip and in March 15, 1931, produced the debut Tarzan colour Sunday page as well. Burroughs was very unhappy with the quality of Maxon's work and eventually Foster was lured back to take over the Sunday series starting with the September 27, 1931 page. He still felt he would be prostituting his talent, but with no work coming in he begrudgingly accepted the Tarzan offer. 

After an uninspired start, in response to the strip's amazing popularity, Foster soon adapted to this relatively new art form and his work became more inspired. In fact, his art improved so dramatically that the pages he created through the '30s are some of the best in the history of comics. The strip became a source of pride and he brought to it all of his talents. Foster was the first illustrator to bring a painterly, impressionistic approach to comics. In his hands the Tarzan strip became as epic as any movie. His two-year "Egyptian" sequence is one of the watershed events in the medium and its quality and consistency has never been matched. Foster created the definitive Tarzan. He established a look of nobility and aristocracy that would influence the many successful Tarzan artists to follow.

In 1937 he moved on to create his own strip, Prince Valiant, which he lovingly crafted -- story, art and colouring -- until 1970 when he commissioned John Cullen Murphy to take over the artwork, but he continued to do layouts, write and colour the strip for the next nine years. The art techniques and scripting skills he perfected in the Tarzan series served him well in this much-loved, critically-acclaimed strip. Hal Foster died on July 25, 1982, three weeks before his 90th birthday.

Tarzan and the Egyptians ~ Hal Foster Art
Foster on Foster

“By profession I am a cartoonist, and my work is displayed through the medium of the Sunday comic section. But in reality I am an illustrator, and my methods are those of an illustrator. A thorough foundation of perspective, anatomy, composition and color is essential. Like most of the artists who draw story or adventure strips, I spent many years as a commercial artist. Cartooning is the presentation of ideas. The best illustration or the funniest caricature is static unless it is the visual part of an interesting or comic idea.

“Prince Valiant is written in novel form, corrected, changed and researched. Then the page is laid out and the story broken down into captions; the first panel takes up the story where it left off the previous week, and the last panel suggests suspense to be told the following week.

“The layout of the page is a pencil sketch, so that each panel can be planned to offer variety…the portrait, half-figures and intricate and detailed scenes. Two-thirds of the ‘novel’ is discarded, for the captions must be reduced to a minimum. Nobody wants to read a long caption.

“The page, 29x15 inches, follows the pencil sketch. The finished black-and-white page is then photostated and the ‘stat colored. It is this colored photostat that the engraver follows in making plates.

“Much research has gone into the illustrations; the costumes and weapons, architecture, harness, even farm implements must be of King Arthur’s period. Even more care must be taken with the story, for each actor must remain in character, and the action must be ever-changing. Too much drama or violent action can become boring, so I try to follow with family scenes, introduce new actors, or add a touch of humor, before the next dangerous episode.

“There is an old saying among cartoonists, “No one ever sold a funny drawing, but a funny idea illustrated puts meat on the table!

"I have emphasized the story idea here, because of all the aspiring young students who have asked my advice, not one has seemed to consider it at all. Their interest was in the pens and brushes, the paper, size, how to draw a funny figure… and would I introduce them into my syndicate.”

Ref: These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America’s Favorite Comics.

September 27, 1931 to May 2, 1937

ERB Comics Summary
Project Introduction
Foster Sept 1931
Hawk of the Desert
Foster Dec. 1931
Hulvia, The Beautiful
Foster April 1932
Lenida, The Lion Tamer
Foster June 1932
Return of Korak
Foster August 1932
Elephants' Graveyard
Foster Sept. 1932
Primeval Swamp
Foster Nov. 1932
Egyptian Saga I: Monkey Man
Foster March 1933
Egyptians Saga II: Wrath of Gods
Foster May 1933
Egyptians Saga III: Sun God
Foster Sept 1933
Egyptians Saga IV
Foster Dec.1933
Egyptians Saga V: Child/Fire
Foster Feb 1934
Egypt Saga VI: Pharaoh Command
Foster June 17 1933
The Mysterious Maiden
Foster: 34.09.09-34.12.02
Mysterious Maiden II  0816
Foster 34.12.09-35.05.26
God-King of the Waioris 0817
Foster 35.06.02 -35.12.29 
The Vikings

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ERBzine 0338: JCB Mars Sunday Strip Synopsis I
ERBzine 0339 JCB Mars Sunday Strip Synopsis II
ERB Scrapbook of Comics Artists
ERBapa Summary 1931-32
ERBzine 0035: Illustrators
ERBzine 0064: STRIPS
Hal Foster - signature

Prince Valiant Splash Pages

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Foster Bio and 
Tarzan Summaries
Hal Foster
Tarzan of the Apes

1929 ~ 300 Foster Illos

From 1931 and 1932
From 1933

The Egyptian Saga
The Hal Foster Sunday Pages
ERBzine 4396
ERBzine 4397
ERBzine 4398

Newspaper Clipping
One man's valiant work to save Hal Foster legacy


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