Archive for the ‘Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tag

Cool Old Maps from Ancient Tomes   1 comment

Well, if you agree that anything published before the year 2000 is old, and anything from before 1950 is ancient, then I have something for you.

I love maps–especially drawn maps of fantastic places that never really existed.  I’m not so keen on aerial surveys. I’m currently reading an old book that I rescued from an antique shop several years ago.  It is called Trader Horn: Harold the Webbed.  The title page is the kind of thing that isn’t done in publishing anymore.  It says:

Harold the Webb or The Young Vykings:  being volume two of the life and works of Trader Horn

. . . the works written by Alfred Aloysius Horn at the age of seventy-three, & the life with such of his philosophy as is the gift of age and experience, taken down and here edited by Ethelreda Lewis; with a foreword by William McFee. New York, The Literary Guild of America, Inc., MCMXXVIII.

Wikipedia has this to say about Mr. Horn:

Alfred Aloysius “Trader” Horn (born Alfred Aloysius Smith; 1861–1931) was an ivory trader in central Africa. He wrote a book, Trader Horn: A Young Man’s Astounding Adventures in 19th-Century Equatorial Africa (ISBN 1-885211-81-3), detailing his journeys into jungles teeming with buffalo, gorillas, man-eating leopards, serpents and “savages”. The book also documents his efforts to free slaves, meet the founder of Rhodesia, Cecil Rhodes, and liberate a princess from captivity.

I’ve read that book. I may have it around the apartment somewhere. It’s rather a fantastic tale of 19th century Africa, something straight out of H. Rider Haggard, and it became a sensation is the 1920s when it was made into a film using a lot of actual footage of wild animals shot in Africa. Some of that footage was recycled into the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies. What people don’t know is that after the success of his first book, Horn thought he could do it again by creating a medieval romance about the days of Viking England. He chose as his hero a 16 year old boy with webs between his fingers and toes, which made him a very good swimmer. The tale is the most ridiculous claptrap anyone has ever read. Horn called upon his family traditions from Lancashire, and thought he would make up a tale of derring-do that would catch the fancy of the romance-reading public the way his first story about rescuing a white woman from a native tribe did. Although the book was handsomely produced, I’m sure it sank like a stone when it came out. The tale involves a crew of teenage pirates sailing in British waters at the time when Julius Caesar was invading England. They spend some time with the legendary Irish chieftain Fingal and rob a Phoenician trader.  Horn calls his characters Saxons and Vikings although both of those races lived hundreds of years after the Romans invaded Britain.  The story is just plain silly. I, who am a lover of medieval romances, sagas, and heroic literature, am having a hard time reading this.

But the book came with this map.  Isn’t it a beauty?


The map not only shows the travels of the hero, but also shows a portrait of the author at 73, placed in his native Lancashire, and shows a Norman castle as the stronghold of an Irish chieftain. Surely this map of the British Isles is as much a creation of fantasy as any map of Atlantis would be.  In the tradition of ancient maps, it even has a sea serpent drawn into it, though if there is a sea serpent in the book, I haven’t found it yet. 🙂

The publisher did a nice job with this book back in 1928 when it came out.  It is bound in green buckram, has gold stamping of a Viking ship on the front cover, `and the title stamped in gold on the spine.  It’s only 275 pages, and most of the book is full of the ignorant and racist musings of old Albert Horn, but it’s printed on good quality paper, and a book like this might easily survive for a century or two if someone would just take care of it.

I have a fairly large collection of old books.  I’m thinking I might share a few more of their beauties with anyone willing to read these blogs.  If I can just rescue the maps and some of the ancient illustrations from oblivion, it will be worth the effort.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Trader Horn, or read anything by this old geezer, why not leave a comment? I’m fairly certain that Edgar Rice Burroughs would have been aware of Horn’s African tale at the very least.  And I wonder how much more “White Hunter” literature survives from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Don’t mention Haggard to me. I’ve read most of his stuff. But is there anyone else worth reading?


Lord of the Jungle   4 comments

I’ve been a Tarzan fan since I saw my first Johnny Weismuller movie as a kid, and that was more than 55 years ago.  I’m not the greatest Tarzan fan.  I’m not a member of the Burroughs Bibliophiles or anything like that, but I have seen every movie I could, read all the books, collected the comics to some extent.  So I was pleased when Dynamite Entertainment–a comic book publishing company decided to redo the original Tarzan stories in comic book form.  They could do this because those books are in the public domain–Burroughs has been dead since 1950, and his copyright goes back to 1912.

And now the tale is being told once more, superbly illustrated by Roberto Castro, and scripted by Arvid Nelson.  Nelson must be quite a Burroughs fan, or else he has decided to hitch his star to the Burroughs legacy, because for a little more than a year now he has also been doing an adaptation of Burroughs John Carter of Mars series.

Dynamite does an interesting and good thing, in my humble opinion.  They bring out the first issue of new titles at a very affordable $1 price, and they do multiple covers, with the rarer ones commanding collectible prices like 7.99 and 9.99.  I kind of think the collectible covers are a bit of a rip, and I won’t pay $9.99 to have a negative version of a cover, but I guess some people will.

The four covers for Lord of the Jungle #1 in January 2012.

Here’s a bit of an oddity.  The comic could not be called Tarzan, so they used Lord of the Jungle instead.  Burroughs used that title for one of his novels, but I don’t think ERB Inc. trademarked that phrase the way they trademarked Tarzan of the Apes.  We might have a Tarzan comic in which the word Tarzan never appears.  I’ll be interested to see how that works out.

The four covers are by Alex Ross, Ryan Sook, Paul Renaud, and Lucio Parrillo.  Ross is the only one I’ve ever heard of before, but all four artists are masters of their art.  Arvid Nelson has done an excellent adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes, and I will be buying this book as long as it comes out.  I can only hope that it wanders off and breaks new ground with original stories the same way his Barsoomian books have.  They deserve a blog, too.

Dynamite Comics has somehow stumbled into a slightly different way of doing comics.  Instead of maintaining one consistent superhero universe in the style of D.C. and Marvel, they are simply doing popular characters of the past–legendary characters including the Lone Ranger, Zorro, the Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, Vampirella, Red Sonja, Sherlock Holmes and many, many more.  Their art is always clean and realistic–their women are indescribably beautiful–their male heroes are classically heroic.  Dynamite pushes the envelope of sexiness and great storytelling with almost every issue.  I didn’t realize how many titles they publish until I started to do a little research for this blog.  As a comics fan I’ve always loved the stuff from D.C. and Marvel and Dark Horse, but the company producing, imho, the very best adventures in comics today is Dynamite.  If you’re a comics reader, they have something for you also.

Comics fans and Tarzan fans are invited to make comments here.  Do you like the Dynamite books?  If so, which ones are your favorites?  And why?