Columnist Dan O’Neil takes a look at the 100 years of Tarzan:
Instead, we celebrate the first true 100th birthday of the first superhero – Tarzan. The “true” hundredth because although the noblest savage of ’em all appeared earlier in an obscure pulp magazine, no-one took much notice until the book Tarzan of the Apes was published in 1914.
It was a sensation, selling a million copies in a year and it signalled the birth of an immortal. Now a century on, yet another Tarzan movie is in the works which means that Tarzan films have been with us almost as long as the 40-odd books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Here was a man who found it hard to separate fact from fiction and for proof, here’s how he described his upbringing to his readers: “I was born in Peking at the time that my father was military advisor to the Empress of China and lived there in the Forbidden City until I was 10 years old.” A tall tale to rank with Tarzan’s upbringing by apes. Burroughs was born in Chicago in 1875, the fourth son of a wealthy businessman.
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Review by Margaret Leubs for the Newsletter Purple Sage of the Eash Sierra Branch, California Writers Club
Robin Maxwell introduced herself to the Ridge Writers by explaining that she too was a desert denizen, as she and her husband run a bed and breakfast near Yucca Valley.
She then told us how she came to be interested in both Tarzan and Jane. Tarzan was her first heartthrob, a gorgeously muscled he-man, living free. The romantic in her loved that he loved an American girl.
She also enjoyed other comics, such as Superman, but no super-hero could hold a candle to Tarzan. She never actually read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels, but she did love the movies based on them.
In the waning days of March 2013, I made a trip I should’ve taken years before. I’ve lived in Los Angeles since I was four, became a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs in my teens, but never thought about taking the jaunt on the I-405 into the Valley to visit the office of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. I knew the office was there; that part of the Valley didn’t get the name “Tarzana” by accident. But it wasn’t until after working for three years writing numerous articles about Burroughs’s books and movies based on them that I realized the opportunity in plain sight — actually, over the hill. I looked up the company’s website, found a phone number, and gave the office a call, wondering what might come of it. A pleasant-sounding woman answered the phone, and after I provided her only a sentence of explanation (ERB fan, live in L.A., would like to write something about the company for an online magazine), she cheerfully told me to call the president of the company, James J. Sullos Jr., and gave me his cell phone number. Another call later — and a half-hour of quality fan talk with Mr. Sullos — and I had an appointment to come out to the offices and have lunch with him and Cathy Wilbanks, the company archivist and executive assistant.
Read Ryan Harvey’s full retrsopective Here!