Tarzan of the Comics
Paving the way for the modern multimedia superstars, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan appeared on film, TV, radio, and stage long
before most of his literary brethren. The Ape Man has enjoyed a particularly varied and fruitful comics
existence. The Grand Comics Database lists over 3700 stories and the excess of 200 series featuring his adventures.
Over the past decade Dark Horse has reprinted many of these classic tales in handsome archival hardback editions. The most
recent additions include a collection of arguably the most influential strip, a rare, illegally published series, and the first
solo adventures of "Boy."
Tarzan exploded into the newspaper funny pages on January 7, 1929 with the extraordinary art of the then unknown
Hal Foster. An adaptation of Burroughs' first Tarzan novel, Foster's worked graced the black & white strip for its first
ten weeks. Though extremely popular, the artist had accepted more lucrative advertising work and was replaced by the inferior
Rex Maxon, who, over the protestations of Burroughs, stayed on the strip until 1947. A color Sunday comic, also drawn by
Maxon, premiered on March 15, 1931. While Burroughs failed to get him removed from the everyday strips, Foster returned
and began illustrating the Sundays on September 27, 1931. For the next six years, Foster produced some of the most impressive
adventure strips ever and his vision help to define Tarzan. He left the character for his seminal creation Prince Valiant. The
Tarzan strip survived with original dailies until July 29, 1972 and Sunday originals through 2000.
Complete with an insightful introduction by comics historian Mark Evanier, Dark Horse's Edgar Rice
Burroughs' Tarzan: The Sunday Comics Volume 1, 1931-1933 collects the first two years of Foster's gorgeous strips. The handsome
over-sized book chronicles the evolution of the extraordinary artist, whose worked noticeably improved each week.
Believing the character had fallen into public domain, Charlton Comics published Jungle Tales of Tarzan in 1964. The four
issues, written by Joe Gill with the first three drawn by Sam Glanzman and the final by Bill Montes and Ernie Bache, adapted
short stories from the Burroughs collection of the same name. The series proved very popular, often outselling the authorized,
Gold Key comics, but after four issues, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. forced its cancellation and demanded all the issues
pulped. The excellent Glanzman art delivered a less mature and more savage version of Tarzan than previous incarnations. Sadly
the amateurish Montes/Bache work mar an otherwise outstanding series.
After acquiring Charlton's properties in 1986, Roger Broughton wanted to collect the never-before-reprinted comic and began a
quest to find Glanzman and the original art. After several delays and missteps, his wishes came to fruition this year
with The Unauthorized Tarzan. Broughton recounts the whole intriguing tale in the foreword and historical essays in this
volume. He also reveals the secrets behind the unpublished Gill-Glanzman daily strip, complete with the first week's finished strips.
Introduced as an infant in the non-Tarzan Burroughs novel The Eternal Lover (1914, between the 2nd and 3rd Tarzan
books), John 'Jack' Clayton, the son of Tarzan and Jane, does not play a prominent role until 1915's The Son of Tarzan (the
fourth Tarzan), when he adopts the name Korak ("Killer" in the language of the Great Apes). Fearing censorship since Tarzan and
Jane were never married in the films, the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies included an adoptive son called "Boy." When Dell
first starting publishing the Tarzan comics in 1947, they kept the pictures name but in Tarzan #139 (December, 1963), Boy
asserted his independence and insisted they call him Korak.
January, 1964 saw the premiere of the new ongoing comic Korak, Son of Tarzan. The series ran for 46 issues under the Gold Key
banner and then another 13 issues after DC acquired the Tarzan license. Numerous artists drew the series including Dan
Spiegle, Frank Thorne, Murphy Anderson, Joe Kurbet, and most notably Russ Manning.
Later gaining acclaim as a Tarzan comic and strip artist as well as the creator of the legendary Magnus, Robot Fighter, Manning
illustrated the initial 12 issues of the Gaylord Dubois-penned Korak title. With Korak, Son of Tarzan Archives Volume One, Dark
Horse collects the first six issues of the enjoyable series.
In his foreword, Steve Rude says this about Manning: "He had an open, uncluttered art style that provided breathing room for
your imagination and invited you to relax and prepare for a good time. It would be a challenge to feel any other way, so
deliberate was his aim to entertain and make readers feel good." His thoughts also sum up the entirety of this hardcover
collection. Behind the unenlightened treatment of tribal people (in the world of Tarzan and Korak, white people are
inherently smarter than the apes and the dark "savages" of the continent), these stories are just plain fun. Dubois slow
pace and often wacky concepts allow the reader to bask in Manning's simple, clean lines and superior storytelling. The
inclusion of Morris Gollub's lush cover paintings further enhance the package.
Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied
countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including
The Austin Chronicle, The San Antonio Current,
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy,
Moving Pictures, RevolutionSF,
Conversations With Texas Writers, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe,
Steampunk, and The Steampunk Bible.
Publisher Weekly called his anthology The Apes of Wrath (Tachyon) "a powerful exploration
of the blurry line between animal and human." Later this year, his new anthology Rayguns Over Texas,
a collection of original science fiction by Texas authors, premieres at Lonestarcon 3.
Klaw can often be found pontificating on Twitter
and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.