Friday, May 08, 2015

Number 1732: Prisoner of the Tharks

I was a teenage John Carter of Mars fan. The novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs are grandiose with their battles and intrigues, more like European history, now that I think of them. Burroughs’ imagination gave the stories the alien life forms. The science fiction touches, an atmosphere factory, the flyers (on a planet where they do not seem to have discovered motorized ground transportation), lent an appropriate air of the exotic. Also, in the old editions I read from the library there were pictures by Frank Schoonover and J. Allen St. John, like this cover by Schoonover from the first novel, A Princess of Mars.

I bought the Gold Key John Carter of Mars #1 in late 1963. It reprints an earlier Dell Four Color issue, #375, from 1952. It is drawn by Jesse Marsh, in a style much different than other artists who drew John Carter. Marsh was the regular Tarzan artist for Dell. His Tarzan looked much like the character depicted in other media, but his John Carter looked like someone out of a production of The Student Prince. It was the capes, especially. When I read it in 1963 I could accept updating  John Carter to modern times (I assume he is fighting in the Korean War, then current), but the costumes...egad.

I pulled it out of my collection recently and re-read it. I noticed what Marsh put in the panels. Many of them show abstract art on the walls, even sculpture. The costumes don’t bother me, now. Mars is a cold place (“in fact it’s cold as hell,” according to Bernie Taupin and Elton John), and in a practical sense the near-naked John Carter is sillier than the (presumably warmer) dandy-in-a-cape John Carter.

These scans are from my copy.

From a 2010 Hairy Green Eyeball posting, a UK adaptation of "A Princess of Mars" done comics style. It is called "The Martian".


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

"It ain't the kind of place to raise your kids", but Carter did it!
I can only thank you for sharing this. I am a big fan of the novels (all read in translation when I was a kid) and of course i was familiar with the Bronze age comic versions by DC and Marvel (Though I liked Kaluta's Carson Napier best), but I never saw this before.
It's fine, aside from the fact that I've never seen such "toady" Tharks before (I mean toad-like shaped, not sycophants). The Calot is lovable, but I'm not sure if I can swallow the "korean upgrade". You like the white apes? Aren't they supposed to be four armed?
Nice version, a less muscular Carter, with a Caniff touch maybe.

I bet being a prisoner of the Tharks is far better then being a prisoner of the Turks...

Pappy said...

J D, yes, the white apes should be four-armed. I wonder if the script described them as such. Artist Jesse Marsh might have been ignorant of Martian White Ape anatomy.

Anonymous said...

I read this very issue as a kid close to fifty years ago. It charms me to read it again, to see the Marsh art. Thanks for this. The scans are quite good as usual. Vagaries of life has me behind in my Pappy blog reading but I will catch up. Again, thanks!