Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Revival of Andra

Here is a story which got published in either the Mucker or Panthans of this year's Dum-Dum (which I was unfortunately unable to attend) Enjoy!

The great tandor lumbered over a park-like savanna swarming with life from all eras of earth’s prehistory. On his broad back, behind the great domed skull, there sat a man with flaming red-hair and a beautiful young woman, curvaceous and nearly naked, her arms entwined about him. The man was Clive Neville of the surface world, and his sweetheart was Jahlanna, princess of Nu-al. Behind them sat an elderly man, a scientist named Alistair Simmons. Behind him, there sat a young teenaged couple, their arms also locked about one another. Their names were Jarn and Jarla. To the right side of the mammoth, there strode a man who was not quite a man, and bore a coat of sleek, shiny fur of a reddish tint. He was also equipped with a long prehensile tail, and carried a large spear ending in an iron blade. His stride was longer and quicker than that of a human, and he was able to keep pace with the beast on the ground. His name was Jal-mar, a member of a race of marsupial tailed-men. The party was bound for the land of Nu-al, where Clive and his primeval sweetheart were to be wed.
At about half the length of their journey, they heard a volley of terrible roars erupt from the nearby jungle. Looking in that direction they saw what they feared the most. From the leafy shadows of the forest there starred the striped, devil-face of a sabertooth. Then another. And another. The great cats began pouring out of the jungle in droves. These were the gigantic tarags of Pellucidar, each one capable of taking down a full-grown sadok. Often, they gathered into mighty packs in order to bring down prey such as tandors. But never had the onlookers beheld a pack of this size and ferocity.
“Oh....Clive!” Jahlanna cried.
“Keep calm,” he told her, “And wait. Perhaps if we are still they will not attack.” He stroked the mammoth behind his ears in an attempt to calm him. But the great bull had already sensed the threat. He had stopped and was now readying himself for the attack.
The attack came, swiftly and surely. The leader of the great cats gave an incredible roar, ending in a tortured scream. The pack’s subordinate males fell in behind him. All of the gigantic, striped bodies surged forward, flanks of them fanning out to surround the great tusked brute. Clive readied his pistol, the one weapon he still carried from the surface world, now loaded with new bullets made in the advanced land of Sari. They braced themselves for the ensuing assault. The tigers charged. The dominant male reached them first, with a gigantic leap directly toward Clive and Jahlanna. The tarag, as Clive had noted several times since his arrival in the inner-earth, seemed possessed of an almost fiendish intelligence. The cats doubtless knew that riders had mastery over the great beasts they rode, and that taking them out first was the best strategy. Jahlanna screamed as Clive aimed his pistol squarely at the creature’s snarling face. There followed a quick crack of thunder, followed by the sharp scent of shotgun powder in the humid dawn-world air. The bullet cleanly penetrated the giant tiger’s skull between the eyes and into the brain. Killed in mid-leap, the great pack-leader fell back to crash onto the grassy sward. The other tigers continued their assault. The beta tiger now assumed the role of alfa, and the assault continued in spite of the death of their leader. The tandor’s flanks were already raked raw and bloody by the gigantic talons, and the pack could now hardly restrain itself. And still more cats were pouring forth from the forest. They were leaping and raking in snarling fury. Jal-mar of the Baraboo had now leapt astride the great tandor, and was now ingaged in fighting them off with his comrades. He was agile enough, his kind having evolved among the trees to position squarely upon the great back while battling savagely. Jal-mar had managed to spear three of the great tigers, through the thick, snowy fur beneath their throats; he had managed to kill each one, and pull free the spear without it becoming stuck. Clive managed to kill another with a well-placed bullet and wound three others. But the assault continued unabated.
“We’ve got to get off this beast!” said Alastair, over the crescendo of deafening roars. “It’s the tandor they want! We can’t just die along with him!”
“There!” yelled Clive, “An opening through the pack!” On the grassy, blood-splattered sward, three of the mighty tigers, mortally wounded by Clive’s bullets, thrashed and spat. Their fellow pack members avoided them, concentrating on their gigantic target. Clive and his band saw their chance, and took it; leaping to the grassy sward and racing for the nearest trees. Once they had abandoned their mighty mount, the tarags ignored them, concentrating on the far greater amount of meat. When they had nearly reached the edge of the forest, Clive looked back. The great bull was seizing his striped assailants with his gigantic trunk and flinging them mightily. But the might of the ravening pack of striped killers prevailed, and the tandor went down, submerged beneath the snarls and roars, and the sea of striped bodies.
“Now what?” Clive asked, once they had reached a safe distance.
“We go this way, “ Jahlanna told him, “Nu-al lies in this direction.”
They began walking in that direction, the princess leading the way. The boles of gigantic trees grew all about them. Huge dragonflies, and diminutive flying reptiles flitted past them in the gloom.
At length they came upon a sight which stunned them. Coming out into a clearing, they saw, incredibly, the remains of what appeared to be a mighty city. The walls, towers, and battlements encrusted with age, overgrown with mosses and lichens, rose gigantically out of the jungle. Jal-mar starred at the decaying ruins uncomprehendingly, as did Jarn and Jarla.
“What—what is it, Clive?” Jahlanna breathed, clinging on his shoulder.
“It looks like a city!” Clive said, realizing his beloved had never seen one before. “But that’s impossible here...”
“Maybe not, my boy,” Allastair said, “That architecture looks Greek. It’s conceivable that a colony of ancient Spartans or Trojans or some similar culture made it down here in ages past, and then died out, or were killed by the beasts or natives.
Cautiously, they entered the ancient city, gazing about in wonder at the towering roofs and Greek-styled colonnades. It seemed that the former inhabitants, whomever they had been were now long gone, and the place belong now only to the wild beasts. Birds and small pterosaurs nested among the deserted eves, and once a family of lemur-like tremarctus chattered aggressively at them from the shadow of a long-collapsed roof.
Then, suddenly, a vast bellowing sounded behind them. All of the party turned in the direction. Lumbering toward them across the plaza was a gigantic reptile the size of a school-bus. It had a vast, humped back, huge back-legs and stunted front ones. Twin rows of huge, cartilaginous plates ran over the great arcing back. The tail was arrayed with a series of gigantic spikes. The small head and beaked maw opened to emit a low hissing sound.
“A dyrodor!” Jahlanna exclaimed. “We must run!”
“But isn’t it supposed to be herbivorous?” Clive asked, noting the thing resembled a stegosaurus.
“Some are,” the girl replied, “They live in herds on the plains. But this dyrodor lives in the jungle and eats meat as well as plants.”
“Then let’s go!”
The entire party ran, several tons of ravenous stegosaur lumbering after them. They ran swiftly, but the creature’s titanic bulk was not easy to out distance.
“This way!” called Jal-mar. “There is an opening, here. The beast will be unable to fit through” There was great, rectangular entrance in the side of what looked like an ancient temple. The made for it, rushing into the opening at the last second. The great dyrodor hissed savagely in frustration at losing his kill through the entrance.
“Well, “ said Clive, “I guess we’re safe here—for now.”
At that moment human shapes materialized out of the gloom. The group drew a collective gasp at the sight of them. The appeared to be soldiers clad in what appeared to be ancient Greek or Roman garb. Each bore a guttering torch in his hand. The bore the helmets, robes and swords of a far-removed time and place.
The man who appeared to be the leader of the soldiers stepped forward to examine the party. He appeared perplexed by Clive’s red-hair, at the sight of an oldster like Simmons, and the member of non-human race like Jal-mar amongst them, as well as two youngsters. But when his eyes fell upon Jahlanna, they shone with disbelief, followed by something akin to worship. The others fell in to also observe her more closely. Jahlanna stood back with a gasp. Clive stepped in front her to shield his beloved from any possible threat, but two of the soldiers seized him. Other soldiers seized his other companions. They had not yet seized the girl, as all their eyes were engaged in looking upon her, starring in rapt wonderment. The princess must have had a more alluring face then any of them had ever before seen. But as they studied her nearly-nude body, even more gasps of astonishment rose to the lips of the astonished onlookers. The girl’s hips, they saw, were sensually disproportionate to the rest of her, their curves and roundures emphasized to the utmost extent.
“Juno...!” one of them breathed.
The soldiers bound each of their prisoners’ hands behind their back, and began to usher them into a tunnel beyond the entrance. All save for Jahlanna. Her they merely escorted on each side. The girl was unwilling to abandon her companions, but regarded the soldiers with a haughty contempt for them for forcing her to accompany them.
The tunnel begun sloping downward. In the guttering light of their captors’ torches, they could see that the walls were covered with ancient writing and pictographs.
“Can you make out any of it, Allastair?” Clive asked him.
“Not sure, my boy, but they look like a variety of ancient Greek. But I can’t make out some of it...”
They emerged into an open plaza. But this one was not outside, but beneath the surface. A high, vaulted ceiling arched overhead. Everything here was brilliantly lit with huge glass globes of phosphorescent gas-light. Before them stood an ornate throne of white marble and tiled with lapis-lazuli. Upon this throne sat a figure whose white robe was bordered in royal-purple. He was a stern-faced figure of royal bearing, obviously a king or a lord of some type. To his side stood other robed figures, obviously nobles or courtiers. He stared down imperiously upon the captives. Upon seeing Jahlanna, as the princess was ushered before him, the man’s face broke out in awe, though not in desire or lust, as had the faces of the other men. There was, however, a definite appreciation for the beauty of the girl’s face and form. One of the Roman-style soldiers, the captain, it seemed, stepped forward and gave what had to be an account of the prisoners’ capture. He made special emphasis on the capture of Jahlanna, and gestured several times in the princesses’ direction. In the exchange between monarch and captain, the name “Juno,” was mentioned several times.
“What is he saying?” Clive whispered to Allastair, “What’s he want with Jahlanna?”
“I can’t discern everything,” Allastair told him. “But I know that Juno is a Greek goddess who was rather renowned for her...um...hips. They seem to think that Jahlanna is Juno incarnated. Or the guard captain does, anyway. The king there isn’t so sure. I think he was suggesting that she should be tested, or something like that.”
“Tested?” Clive said fiercely, “What do you mean?”
“I’m not sure. “I’ll see if I can talk to them.”
The aged professor muttered some words in Greek, which Clive was totally unable to understand. At a gesture from the robed monarch, the soldiers released their hold on Alastair, and allowed the old man to approach the throne. There followed a lengthy, if halting, exchange between the monarch and Alastair. When they had finished the monarch concluded with some obviously harsh words and a sharp gesture at the prisoners. The soldiers seized Alastair and the others, and ushered them away. All save Jahlanna, that is. She was escorted by two soldiers in the opposite direction.
“Jahlanna!” Clive cried out to her. He struggled against the soldiers holding him. Jahlanna cried out to him as well, but the two soldiers seized her, restraining her.
Clive and the others were taken to a large cell in the palace dungeon. Naked, white, rodent-like reptiles called slurrels skittered here and there screeching over bits of refuse. Once the party was captive behind the iron grill of the cell, Clive said to Allastair. “Maybe you could tell us what was said between you and the king? And what about Jahlanna! Does that madman want her for himself?”
“Okay. It was a bit difficult, but I think I understand what he wants. I told him I was a learned man of science, and knew some of his dialect. I was curious as to what his people are doing miles from the surface in a lost world at the center of the earth. He said that he is King Ravius, and that his people are descendents of the original Atlanteans.”
“Atlanteans! But that’s—“
“Merely legendary? It appears not, my boy. I’ve heard rumors of a lost colony of Atlantis still exists somewhere in equatorial Africa. Some fellow named Greystoke claims to have discovered it. At any rate, we’ve stumbled upon living proof. According to the man’s story, the last survivors of the original Atlantis found their way underground to an undersea catacomb formed millions of years ago by a pressure bubble in the earth’s crust. Their civilization continued long afterward, even into the modern era. Some groups of Atlantean colonies found their way to Pellucidar, but war with Pellucidar’s dominant species, the Mahar, who were far more advanced than they were, eventually caused them to retreat, and the tunnels to the inner earth were sealed off and forgotten. Yet they were also unable to return to the surface, because modern humans had poisoned the air and polluted the seas. But it seems King Ravius had a daughter, a rebellious young lass named Andra, who was always trying to stir up trouble with the other young people about tales of the surface world. Andra, you see, hated the ways of her elders, and longed to escape Atlantis and return to the surface world. She might have grown out of it though, if it hadn’t been for a very unfortunate incident. It seemed that some surface dweller, a youth of Andra’s age, found his way into New Atlantis, and Andra fell in love with him at first sight. The elders would have slain the outsider for the danger he represented, but he escaped—and Andra along with him. And—“ the old man’s voice trailed off.
“What--?” Clive pressed.
“Well, King Ravius sent his whole army after his daughter and the youth, but they escaped through one of the vents. In their protective helmets and aqua-gear the king’s soldiers scoured the entire surrounding ocean. Of the young man, there was not a trace. But... they did find Andra. Or what remained of her. Floating in the ocean, not far from the vent. “
“Did the youth, then—“
“No, she was poisoned by the air. The pollution of the modern world. The delicate lungs of the Atlanteans, isolated for so ,long, couldn’t take it. Her corpse was shiveled and gray, her smooth skin had taken on the texture of stone. Ravis, naturally filled with rage, searched far and wide of the youth, even though the girls’ death, likely wasn’t his intention at all, but they never found him. Anyway, they took Andra’s corpse back to Atlantis, where she was given the royal funeral services, and placed in the royal tombs. But Ravius, you see, could not recover from his daughter’s death. He became obsessed with finding a way to bring her back from the land of the dead. He poured over the ancient scrolls in the science section of the royal library, works dating from a time when Atlantean civilization was far more advanced. But the answer came to him in the scrolls that told of Pellucidar, and the strange race of scientific winged saurians that inhabited it. It seemed they had found a way to defy death, at least in cases like Andra’s who was positioned almost instantly. Her body had been well-preserved, so they uncovered the ancient seal to the earth’s core and brought her here to this ancient city. Her corpse is here, right in this city! But it seems the Mahars took an interest in the manner of Andra’s death, but for the wrong reasons. They took her from him, with only an indefinite promise of reviving her, and warned him not to interfere. The Mahars are the ones who control this city, but there are only two of them here now. They are in the north quarter, where they are examining Andra’s corpse...”
“That’s all very interesting, Alastair, “ Clive interrupted the old man’s story, “But what about Jahlanna? What does that madman want with her?”
“I really wouldn’t call Ravius mad, “ said Allastair, “Unless he’s half-mad from grief. But I’m afraid what he wants with the Princess is not good.”
Clive’s face grew dark with rage.
“The king was unconvinced that Jahlanna was truly a goddess, and demands that she undergo the trial of Dratha. She is to appease the hunger of the great god Dratha following the sleep period.”
“Then we’ve got to—“
“I know, but she’ll be okay for a while!”
“Hell with that! I’ll find a way to break out of here—now!” They probed the cell for any signs of weakness, but were unable to locate any. Then one of the guards tossed in what looked like two small capsules. They started to dissolve, and as they did so released a noxious type of fume that made Clive dizzy and his eyes sting fiercely. All at once his resolve collapsed, and he slumped to the floor. The others collapsed also. But the equivalent of an hour later, the boy, Jarn awakened. He had been less affected by whatever drug had knocked all them out because he’d had the quick sense to have held his breath from the start. Quickly, he shook Jarla awake. Groggily the girl opened her eyes.
“Jarn...? Where are we? What happened?”
“Remember? Those men with metal skins captured us! We’re still in the place Al-li-star calls At-lan-tus. “
“Oh, no! We’re still here! I dreamt I was safely back in O-lar. With you.”
“Did you hear what Al-li-star said? The king’s daughter is here in the city! But the Mahars won’t bring her back! But I think I can rescue her!”
“Don’t be silly, Jarn! Not even the Mahars can bring the dead back! You certainly can’t!”
“But I’m going to try.”
“Jarn, you silly boy!”
“Go back to sleep, Jarla. If the others wake up, tell them where I’ve gone.”
“You fool, Jarn, you’re just going to—“
“Shhhhhhh!” he shushed her. Jarla furiously put her head down, knowing full well her sweetheart was as stubborn as ever. Jarn crawled his way over to grating and threw himself into a feigned epileptic fit. The guard stationed outside took notice, then summoned another guard. “What is it?” the other man said.
“It’s the stripling,” the fist guard told him. “He’s having some kind of fit.”
“Bah! He’s not worth bothering with. Take him to Ru-kah. She’ll know what to do.”
They regarded the youth with a mixture of amusement and disgust. Then, seeing the others were safely knocked out, they opened the grating and carried the still thrashing caveboy out and out of the dungeon and to a room that looked like a medical facility. Jarn immediately went limp. Chortling and shaking their heads, the two guards left him there and walked off.
Jarn came immediately awake. He was in a huge laboratory-type room, of the sort used by Mahar scientists. On a rectangular table made out of something like aluminum in the direct center of the room lay the form of a young woman in Atlantean garb. At least, it might once have been a young woman. As Jarn approached her, he saw that her skin was gray, shriveled, and appeared to be composed of granite. Her hair, arrayed out behind her head, was a dead-white color. There were a number of colored buttons on a consol in front of the aluminum table. Jarn had seen the Mahars do things by pressing such as these. Maybe if he began pressing all of them, one of them could revive the Ravius’s daughter.
Stop, Apeling! The voice was like a wave of static coursing numbingly over his mind. Jarn whirled around as a shadow fell across him. The scientist known as Ru-kah had returned. She loomed over him in her grisly reptilian splendor. Jarn immediately averted his eyes from the Mahar’s frigid, consuming gaze, and ducked spryly under her wing. The Mahar gave a reptilian screech of fury, and whirled after the cave-lad. Jarn’s gaze fell instantly upon the nearby lab table, where lay a number of weird instruments. Jarn seized up a cloth and a bizarre scalpel-like implement. He then raced around the side of the Mahar, realizing that the reptile appeared sluggish due to the relatively low tempature in the room. Ru-kah and her fellow scientists had not reckoned on such an incident occurring, but this gave Jarn the advantage. The boy sprang upon the primeval monster’s arched back with the celerity of a zorag. With a boyishly triumphant yell, Jarn brought the cloth down over Ru-Kah’s deadly gaze and held the blade at the scaled folds of her throat.
“Tell me how to bring girl back, Mahar!” Jarn yelled, “Do it, or I’ll kill you!”
Never, young apeling! I do not take orders from a gilak! We are scientists, researchers! I must study the effects of the poisons of the outside world—something very valuable to us, and beyond your puny understandings! “If you don’t, I’ll find a way myself!” he pressed the blade in further.
Very well. It is the largest button. Allow me to do it.
“Not so fast, bird-lizard!” Jarn had secured the cloth over the creature’s eyes. He now bound it tightly beneath the Mahar’s beak. He noticed some chords lying in the corner of the lab. He leapt to ground and seized them up. But at that moment Ru-kah surged forward.
I can read your thoughts, apeling! Now you die!
The winged reptile surged in Jarn’s direction. But the Mahar, also, had made an oversight. She lunged toward the caveboy, fanged reptilianbeak snapping shut on empty air, as Jarn, with the quickness of youth, threw himself to one side in just the nick of time. Screaming in primordial rage, the sentient saurian bore down upon the boy again. But this time Jarn was ready with the blade. He ducked and drove the it up under the Mahar’s lower jaw, pushing it up until it penetrated the cold reptilian brain. Jarn sprang back out of the way, as Ru-Kah gave a weak cry, and then the Mahar scientist collapsed in a concealing pool of her own oily blood.
Jarn’s chest heaved as he surveyed the body of the slain reptilian. And it dawned on him—if he had failed to complete his passage into manhood up until this moment, then now, surely he had succeeded at last! At his feet one of the Great Lords of Pellucidar lay dead! Ha! Could his elders now regard him as a mere boy, and not a warrior? He could not wait for them to find out—assuming they would not regard this feat as one of his tall tales. Then he remembered: Andra!
Though he had little trust of the Mahar, he also had little choice. Jarn pressed the large red button, then flung himself back, bracing himself for what might occur. There was a momentary flash of light from what looked like an overhead UV lamp. Waves of red and green brilliance washed over the still, pathetic form of Andra of Atlantis.
And then...
Before the startled eyes of Jarn of Nu-al, her granite-like skin smoothed and tightened, took on once again the clean, rosey hue of youth. Her features became once again beautiful, ellicting a gasp of awe form Jarn’s lips, and her hair became once again rich and red with the luster of vibrant health.
Her lovely green eyes fluttered open. “What....where am I? Oh! Korak!”
“Oh! You’re not Korak! You look rather like him. But I can see your features more clearly now...”
“My name is Jarn! I’ve just slain the Mahar and saved your life!”
“Jarn....you’re a handsome warrior, much like him. He slew the devil-monster that guarded my city. I escaped with him to the surface. But the air! It felt like a wind in my blood. I was certain then that I was dying. But now I’m here. Where are we?”
Jarn long regarded all the crazy talk of a surface world as so much thag manure. People like Clive and Allastair were a bit touched in the head, much as he liked them in other ways. Right? They had to be. But now he was beginning to believe it. Something had happened to Andra, after all. But she was fine now.
Andra sat up on the table. She gave a startled scream as she beheld the corpse of Ru-kah. “Oh, Jarn!” the girl exclaimed. “You are as fine and brave a warrior as he!” She threw her arms about the furiously blushing boy and kissed him full on the mouth.
* * *
Once the effects of the sleeping drug had worn off, the prisoners were led up a broad flight of stairs to a large arena in the center of the city. This was located above ground in an ancient arena which, unlike the rest of the surface city, had been renovated. Clive found himself momentarily blinded by the sudden glare of Pellucidar’s eternal noonday day. The roar of the crowd-filled ampitheatre deafened his ears. The bleachers rose all around them in steep marble tiers. Crowds of New Atlanteans had already filled them. The center of the arena was a vast pool. And in the center of this was a raised circle of marble upon which was driven a large wooden stake.
And tied to this stake was Clive’s primeval sweetheart, Jahlanna, princess of Nu-al.
Clive called her name. The guards prodded the captives into their place at the fore of the arena, seemingly so they cpould get the best view.
King Ravius, in his royal box overlooking the spectacle rose suddenly his feet, one hand raised to silence the crowd. “We are here to witness the fate of the girl whom many claim may be the goddess Juno. I have said otherwise. But if I am incorrect, we shall all fall our knees in supplication to her. In order to pass the test, she must first appease the will of the great god Dratha, the mighty one who dwells beneath. If Dratha spares her life, then a goddess she is. If not—well, we shall see!
As for the girl, she remained tied, her lovely face fixed, horrified at the dark waters before her. Then—in the murky waters of the wavering, deep green pool there gradually materialized form the depths a monstrous, night mare vision of lunacy, vast and gigantic. It was the form of a titanic kraken-like beast, its’vast, mighty tenacular arms spanning what must have been a hundred feet. The dimensions appeared so stupifying that Clive could at first scarcely credit his vision. The thing itself was an oily green in color, and as the lashing tentacles parted, Clive could see that their soft, pinkish undersides were covered with row upon row of suckers tipped with curved barbed spines. He could see that the creature bore a vast, rounded shell the size of a small house, gigantically coiled, a trait which identified the beast as a member of the nautilid family of prehistoric cephalopods.
This, then, was the great god Dratha of New Atlantis. The mighty, spined tentacles burst through the surface, eliciting a volley of gasps and cries from the onlookers. The monstrous appendages were slick and oily. They snaked toward the helpless princess, the barbed protrusions gleaming hideously in the glaring daylight. Jahlanna, lovely eyes wide with terror, screamed long and loud. Clive thrashed against his bonds, throwing himself against one of the guards in fury to save his mate. Then, with a sudden burst of pure, primeval rage, he tore loose from his bonds. Clive sent his right fist smashing into the other guard’s jaw. Then he tore loose the sword from the fallen man’s scabbard. Before anyone could further restrain him the surface man, he had leapt over the railing and had plunged into the turgid depths of Dratha’s pool.
A collective gasp rose from the massed onlookers. King Ravius himself was awe-struck, as he rose from his seat to have a better look. Clive, sword in belt, was now swimming in furious strokes down toward the mighty-squid-like monster. The great cephalopod turned his baleful gaze from the captive princess above, and his array of vast appendages on her mate. With sword now in hand, Clive hacked clean through one of the thick, rubbery tentacles. Purplish-black gore flooded the jade-colored waters. Filled with bestial fury Dratha seized the small human morsel in one terrible crushing grip. Clive felt himself being drawn inexorably into the center of the tentacles; he could now see the great chomping beak in the center. Clive’s vision was blurring, his lungs now throbbing for lack of oxygen, as the creature’s hideous spines worked their way into his flesh as the great coil constricted him. Gripping the Atlantean sword in his most steely hold he brought it slicing down into the rubbery flesh of the greenish black arm, slicing halfway through the arm. The man brought up the sword and brought it down again, finally severing Dratha’s grip.
A vast cloud of purplish ink erupted, engulfing the dazed Clive Neville, as the grip of the monster loosened, and the great octopoid vanish into the depths of the vast well. Clive thrashed for the surface, but the battle had left him nearly senseless his tortured lungs burning for air. Then he felt two strong pairs of arms grip him, bear him upward toward toward the beckoning light and air.
Clive had all but blacked out when he found himself coughing on the marble edge of Dratha’s pool. Hazy consciousness returned in bursts of light. Blinking dazedly in the sun, Clive saw the faces of Jal-mar and Jarla, who had pulled him out of the water. The guards were standing around, but this time, none of them moved to arrest him. Looking up at the gathered crowd, Clive saw that they were awed by his victory over the tenacled god. He had earned their respect.
“No!” came the voice of King Ravius. “The red-haired outlander—the surface dweller—has slain Dratha. He has great courage, I’ll give him that, but he and his companions must never leave this city alive!”
“Father! No! Stop!”
All eyes turned in the direction of the shrill young female voice. An even louder murmur of awe rose from the crowd. Entering the arena were a beautiful young girl with flaming red hair and a youth. The youth Clive and his companions recognized instantly as Jarn of Nu-al. The girl he did not recognize.
But a look of astonished recognition wrought the face of the king Ravius. And slowly that look turned to one of astonished joy beyond comprehension. “Andra....? No! No...it can’t be!”
“Yes....yes, father, it is I!” she ran forward and flung herself into her aged father’s embrace before the astonishment of the vast throng. They held each other, both weeping tears of joy. At last Ravius said, smiling through his tears, “Andra...it’s really you.”
“Yes, father. Oh! You’ve grown old! But your’e still as handsome as I remember.”
“And look at you! You’re still young! And more beautiful than ever. Andra...how?”
“It was this youth—Jarn—who saved me.”
“Andra...I’m sorry?
“For what, father?”
“For what I was about to do. Jarn, the boy...is a companion of the prisoners whom I had only now commanded to be slain—may the gods forgive me.”
“I forgive you, father—for everything.”
King Ravius commanded the prisoners to be released. Before they said farewell, Ravius told Clive, “For a while I hated all surface dwellers because a youth unknowingly caused my daughter’s death. I had a wife long ago, but she died young, and then Andra was taken from me. Perhaps I wanted you and your mate slain because I wanted no one, especially a surface man to love, I couldn’t I see the error of my ways. But now that I have her back, I see how wrong I was. Forgive me, and go in peace.”
Clive and his companions left the land of New Atlantis, and were once again bound for Nu-al.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Caspak is another Lost World setting created by ERB. Unlike Pal-ul-don and Pellucidar, there were no crossovers to any of the other Burroughs series. The Caspak series was a trilogy consisting of just three novels, The Land that Time Forgot, The People that Time Forgot, and Out of Time’s Abyss.

Caspak is a huge island or small continent located in the South seas somewhere between South America and Australia. Unlike Pal-ul-don, for example, lifeforms on Caspak have literally remained unchanged from their myriad eras. However, what makes Caspak unique, is that is actually a huge cross-section of earth’s prehistoric history, a living record of life on earth from the Cambrian up to the early Holocene(which marked the beginnings of human civilization.)


Unlike Pellucidar, which is actually a huge melting pot of earth’s various ages where all types of ancient fauna and flora intermix, the fauna and flora of Caspak is organized into different zoogeographic zones, where fauna from the different respective ages are confined. Giant amphibians and insects such as the giant dragonfly Megamueria are confined to the southern extremity of the island. Reptiles and dinosaurs dominate slightly further north. The lagoon in this region is infested with huge aquatic saurians, “a veritable Mesozoic nightmare”, according to Bowen Tyler’s journal. Pterodactyls ply the misty skies, and dinosaurs such as the Jurassic diplodicus and allosaurus overrun the land. Further north, the mammals begin to dominate, beginning with the most primitive types, and upward through the late Pleistocene fauna, including aurochs, mastodons and giant sloths, preyed upon by cave bears, saber-tooth cats, and giant panthers. Primates are thick throughout the island, including “monkeys of all sizes and shades”, and a variety of apes and man-like creatures.

There are beasts from all ages on Caspak. Among the ones mentioned are the Plesiosaurus which ambushed the U-boat in first novel, the colorful allosaurus encountered shortly afterward, the giant herbivorous diplodocus, and the giant pterodactyls. Later in the novels are mentioned the hyenodons, the aurochs the mastodon, the sabertooth, and the cave bear. At the north end of the island, more contemporary fauna is found, including horses similar to the Asiatic Prewolski’s horse, which is tamed by the Galu, the highest type of human. The only beasts whose name in the native language is mentioned are the giant pterodactyls, which are known as jo-oos, and the ecca, the name for the dimunitive eohippus, or dawn-horse.


There are a number of races on Caspak, virtually all of them types of human that actually existed during the earth’s past. The most primitive, the Alus, are found in the southernmost portion of the humans range, They stand erect, but are fur-covered, and otherwise very apelike, possibly corresponding to the Australopithecus Africanus ancestor of man. The Bo-lu, the next most primitive, may correspond roughly to Australopithecus Robustus, a slightly higher form. Both these employ blunt sticks or clubs as weapons. The next highest, the Sto-lu, are also known as the “hatchet people”, because they are able to make crude stone hatchets. They are still somewhat ape-like, but nearly hairless, proabally of the same species as Homo Erectus. The Band-lu, who have “better-shaped skulls”, according to Billings, are probably synonomous with the Neanderthal man, although Billings believes them to be a Cro-magnon type. Cro-Magnons, actually were indistinguishable from modern humans, other then being “cave people”. The next highest, the Kro-lu, are more advanced, and have forted villages, and domesticated stock, including goats, and domestic dogs. The highest type, the Galu reside at the northmost portion of the island. They are physically identical to the Kro-lu, but higher in technological development, showing the beginnings of true civilization. They have invented cloth-weaving, bows and arrows, and have domesticated and bred horses. But the most striking aspect of the Galu race is a unique element of their reproductive cycle. Galu women bathe in special ritualistic pools. During this time, they release clusters of eggs which drift on the current to Southern region of Caspak where they develop into the most primitive lifeforms, thus recycling the entire chain of life on this remarkable island.

One other race is native to the island, an entirely fictitious one invented by Burroughs. These are the Weiroos, a race of winged humans that consists entirely of males. They have dead-white skin, and goggling eyes, which lends them an eerie death-like appearance. They can see in darkness as well as a cat. It is uncertain entirely bizarre race came about. The Weiroos seem to regard themselves as the highest race on the island, but they seem to have originated, not from the Galu, but through some freakish off-branching in the Caspakan chain of human evolution. The Weiroo exist on an island in the center of a lake, in a city constructed entirely from human skulls. They prey on the women of Caspak’s human races. The young born to female captives of the Weiroo is always male, showing no characters of their female parent.


Caspak has been represented twice in the movie adaptations of Burroughs first Caspak novels during the seventies. Both adaptations are fairly good, compared with the many other adaptation of Burroughs work. The first move is a decent adaptation of Burroughs novel, following the story fairly closely. A variety of prehistoric reptiles are depicted by sophisticated (for their time) rod-puppets, and a few life-sized mockups. These include pterodactyls, plesiosaurs, mososaurs, allosaurus, tyrannosaurus, a pair of styracosaurus, and even a polacanthus (a pike-backed herbivorous dinosaur). The story ends with the island being seemingly destroyed, or at least damaged, by a volcanic holocaust (a staple of lost-world romance). As in Burroughs novel, Bowen Tyler and Lys La Rue remain stranded on the island in the windswept northmost portion, and cast their record into the sea. The next movie adaptation, The People That Time Forgot, follows an expedition seeking to locate the missing Bowen and Lys. The film is a fair effort, but not nearly as good as the first one. The prehistoric creatures featured in this film include a museum-quality, but very stiff-looking pterodactyl which attacks their plane, a less-convincing life-sized stegosaurus, a couple of very fake-looking ceratosaurs, and a better-looking gorgonops (a saber-toothed proto mammal), and scutosaurus(a species Triassic pariosaur), both of which seem to have been copied from the paintings of Zednek Burian. Though the Weiroo race comes into play near the end of Burroughs novel, the creation of a convincing race of winged people was beyond the technology of the time, and a race of humans similar somewhat to Burroughs Galu, with a faintly oriental samarai-ish culture, but with a city of skulls, similar to the Weiroo. Some Frazetta posters were used as part of the background scenes. These seemed to fit the atmosphere, but were jarring to anyone who recognized them. The third and final Caspak novel, whose action centered around the Weiroo race, was never filmed for obvious reasons.

Comic legend Russ Manning took Tarzan himself to Caspak in a series of two excellent graphic albums released during the seventies. These were called Tarzan in the Land that Time Forgot, and Tarzan and the Pool of Time respectively. The former was released in Great Britain, the latter in Swden. Dark Horse released both stories in single package in the US during the nineties. It was an excellent move, getting these stories out to where many fans had missed them (wish they’d done the same with Manning’s other European graphic novels while they were at it), but the coloring, like most of the Dark Horse reprints, was not nearly as good as in the originals. It was better than in the Dark Horse prints of the Dark Horse comics, though, where even Tarzan’s skin was darkened.

Lost Cities of Tarzan's Africa


By far the most famous lost city in Tarzan’s Africa the City of Opar. Tarzan first discovered Opar in the second Tarzan novel, and returned in no less than three more times. Opar is an Atlantean colony located deep within what is now Zaire (the former Belgian Congo), nestled within the mountains that are the source of the Zambezi river. Unlike other cities in Tarzan’s Africa, Opar is not thriving. It is still inahbitated, but only by a small number of degenerates, and the city has fallen into ruin. Thousands of years ago, Opar was a bustling center of commerce. But after the continent of Atlantis sank, the colonists were cut off from the rest of the empire. This occurred durnng the rainy season, when tourists and tradesmen were away, and few besides politians and the priesthood remained. The Oparian religion has persisted throughout the ages, albeit in a degenerate form that demands blood-sacrifice. Over the thousands of years that Opar existed in isolation, the populace underwent a dramatic sexual dimpophism. Perhaps to avoid the hazards of inbreeding, the Oparians frequently mated with the Great Apes of the regions, and even aquired some of their culture and tongue. What remains of their original Atlantean dialect is confined to terms relating to their religion. The male Oparians are a devolved race of beast-men, very hairy, and stoop shouldered, and pornathus browed. The Oparian females however, remain very human, and are stunningly attractive. This may be because, it was the Oparian females who chose (or were chosen by ) the Great Apes, and the Apes perhaps chose the most attractive Oparian tarmanganis to mate with. La, the high priestess is the most beautiful of the Oparians, with the lustrous black hair, beautifully chiseled features, and queenly baring. Opar is also a very rich city, and contains a vast wealth in gold and diamonds, which is left over form its colonial days when the city was a center of trade, and the diamonds and ore were mined from the mountains. This makes Opar much sought after by treasure seekers. Opar has been featured many times in the comics. There was, surprisingly, only one episode of the Filmation TV series to feature Opar (Tarzan the Hated), and even more surprisingly, Opar was depicted as merely a ruined city, and there was no evidence of La or the Beast men. The only time that Opar ever appeared in a Tarzan motion was in the 1998 movie Tarzan and the Lost City, starring Casper Van Dein. While a bit better than some other motion picture adaptation, the inclusion of Opar did not make for a better film. The movie’s version of the lost city consisted of only a single pyramid, and was inhabited by a race of black sorcerers, even though Burroughs never including sorcery or mysticism in his novels at all. And, of course, there’s no sign of either La or the beast-people. One of the mysteries surrounding Opar is that Burroguhs did not delve deeper into the city’s Atlantean origins. Phillip Hose farmer wrote two Opar pastiches, Hadon of Ancient Opar, and Flight to Opar, which are set during this ancient period in Tarzan’s Africa. The Atlantern empire is at its height, and a great inland sea exists where the Congo basin does now. It is a very well-conceived depiction of Burroughsian Africa in its prime, complete with a now-vanished race of beast-men, though I did not find the story itself terribly readable. There is also a mysterious reference in these novels of a god-like personage who rides an elephant and travels with a monkey on his shoulder. This seems to be a reference to Tarzan himself, though this is impossible, unless Tarzan somehow got transported backwards in time.


Xuja is a lost city in Africa that lies in an elevated desert in the remote mountains of Tanganyika. Unlike the surrounding wasteland, Xuja existed in fertile valley fed by mountain streams. Richly cultivated fields surround the city. The Xujans themselves have stiff, course, black hair, and yellowish skin, and prominent canine teeth. Their cast of features is somewhat oriental. They worship parrots as sacred animals, and one old parrot is venerated as a god Parrots feature prominently in their religious art, and to a lesser extent, lions. Lions are kept and bred by the Xujans as both guard animals, and for food. They have developed a very dark leonine strain that is nearly black in coloration. These “black lions” are used to guard the city against intruders. It is not known what civilization or race from which the Xujans are descended, though their dialect is somewhat Greek.

City of the Bolgoni

This is the civilization of the Bolgoni, the dominant race of the Valley of the Place of Diamonds. This valley lies adjacent to Opar lie in the mountains of Zaire. Two races inhabit this valley, a race of devolved gomangani humans, which are (unlike the beastmen of Opar) are meek, and used by their Blogani as slaves, and Bolgoni themselves, a race of sentient gorillas. Though they refer to themselves as “Bolgoni” the same great ape term for nrola gorillas, the Bolgoni of the Valley of the Place of Diamonds walk upright, and have human intelligence. They are able to built cities, weave cloth, and (especially) make jewelry, which they wear in abundance. The Bolgoni keep a lion in their palace who is their “king.” This strange race came about probably in much the manner of the Oparians, of mixing of Oparian blood with both Burroguhs’ fictional Great Apes, and gorillas. But instead of producing a race of degenerate humans, this mixing resulted in gorillas who have evolved sentience. They still retain the language of the Great Apes. They are enemies of the Oparians.

Nimmr and the City of the Sepulcher

Two rival cites that exist within the Valley of the Sepulcher hidden in the mountains of southern Abbysinnia. The inhabitants of both cities are the descendents of English crusaders. A fifty-foot limestone cross marks the passage to the valley. Nimmr is also called the “Leopard City” as they use leopards are hunters and guard animals. Jousting in the medieval knightly tradition is a common form of entertainment for both cities.

The Valley of the Ant Men

Another lost realm within Tarzan’s Africa is the valley of the Ant men. This strange hidden land is veiled in mist, and girded by a massive thorn barrio. The land is inhabited by two weird races: a strange, white-skinned race, the females of which are dominant, and muscular warriors, and whose males are physically weak and subordinate (called Alu); and the Minuni, also called “Ant Men”, who are normal humans of “shrunken” miniature proportions. At least some of the Alu have reverted to the more normal relation between the sexes by the end of the novel, thanks to Tarzan’s influence. The Minunians are a fierce, belligerent race, and use the diminutive Royal antelope as war-mounts. This small African species is little larger than a hare, but to the Minuinians is the size of an eland. They are technologically advanced beyond that of the outside world, in at least some aspects. Minunian scientists have discovered a way to shrink “normal” sized men and animals down to their size by applying magnetic waves to the nervous system. The ant-men inhabit, vast hive-like cities that have the appearance of termite mounds. This is not a “lost city” proper, but it nonetheless one of Burroughs most interesting hidden realms. The origins and evolution of these strange peoples are a complete mystery. Joiper, a warrior of the Ant Men, is a friend and often a companion of Tarzan’s in the Manning strips.

Castrum Mare & Castrum Saguinarius

These are ancient outposts of the Roman empire, founded in a remote valley deep within the Wriramwazi mountains of Africa. Though the cities are rivals they trade for fish, snails and paper, for gold and slaves. The inhabitants of the valley trade once a year with local tribes outside the valley, who river them as spirit-beings. The ancient Roman sport of gladiatorial common is still common in these twin cities, both against men and captured beasts, such as lions and elephants.

Cathne and Athne

Cathne and Athne are twin rival cities in the lost valleys of Thenar and Onthar in the Ethiopian highlands. The two cities are eternally at war with one another, but once a year the Cathneans trade hay, fruits, and vegetables with the Athneans for steel and cloth. Lions are sacred to the Cathneans, as elephants are to the nobles Athne, and roam the city’s streets as freely as house pets. There are about 500 adult male lions in Cathne, a city built almost entirely of gold, 300 of which belong to Queen Nemone. Nemone’s personal pet and guard lion, at the time of tarzan’s arrival, was named Belthar. The Cathneans also drive lion-driven chariots, and use the beasts as war animals. The ruling class of nobility are called “Lion Men”. A particular lion is even worshiped as a god in Cathne, but though he once may have been a regal beast, at the time of Tarzan’s arrival, he was old and toothless. The Catheans also use their lions to hunt elephants, and to run down escaped slaves. They are rather cruel people, relish blood sports, and taking the heads of their enemies, the Atheneans in battle. Tarzan visited only cathnean in the novel Tarzan and the City of Gold , though he encountered both cities in Tarzan the Magnificent. It is unknown from what race these peoples are descended, though their ancestors were possibly Greek. In this last novel, outsider Stanley Wood, opins that they may by a remnant of lost Atlantis, similar to the Oparians. The city of Cathne features greatly in the Filamtion tarzan TV series (though it is wrongly called “Zandor” , perhaps to avoid confusion with the name it its rival), and three episodes are set there. The City of Athne, though mentioned repeatly on these episodes, is never shown.

Kaji and Zuli

Another pair of rival cities of a white race of Amazon women. Once they had been balck, but selective breeding with white male captives over centuries had changed them. They are ruled by two wizards who wield the powers of two giant hypnotic crystals, a diamond for Kaji, and an emerald . for Zuli. These cities are in the Ethiopian highlands not fat from the twin valleys of Onthar and Thenar


A hidden valley secluded by mountains, and inhabited by two sects of a degenerate fanatical religion, descended from an early form of Christianity. The South Midians are corrupted by centuries of inbreeding, and demented fanaticism. They are uniformily dark-haired and epileptic. They believe that St. paul (the prophet) was a god, and practice human sacrifice of sinners. The North Midians, are blond, less inbred, of cleaner appearance, though no less fanatical. Neither of these people are not truely “civilized” though they do represent a “lost race”, as do the Kavuru, described below.


The Kavuru are a legendary tribe of mysterious white men within the depths of the Congo. They are a race of immortal celibit priests, consisting entirely of young men. Sometime in the past, the Kavuru invented a potion wich gave whoever consumed it immortality. There are many ingredients in this potions, chief amonst them being the glands of young girls. Kavura are feared by the local tribes because of their habit of luring yoiung women awy from the villages by blowing hypnotic whistles. Their village was guarded by trained leopards, who also served as source of leopard spinal fluid, another ingrediant. The Kavuru are not civilized, and dress in the savage manner of the native black tribes. Their origin is unknown.

Ashair and Thobos

These are yet two more rival cities, this time hidden deep within the mountains of Rhodesia. They are located at opposite ends of Lake Horus, named for the Egyptian Hawk-God. The inhabitants are descendants of the ancient Egyptians, making these cities the only ones in Tarzan’s Africa that are native (though non-negroid) in origin. The “Forbidden City”, of the novel of that title is Ashair. Intruders who see it, are taken captive for life. The Ashiarians worship a legendary stone, and man they rever as a god, both of whom are called “the Father of Diamonds”. The stone sank to the bottom of Lake Horus during the war between the cities. Both peoples have tried to recover it. However, two caskets were discovered in Tarzan and the Forbidden City ,one of which was revealed to contain nothing more than a lump of coal. Certain prehistoric creatures seem to have survived in this isolated mountain valley, including a dwarf species of T-rex, about the size of a Cape buffalo. The lake itself is inhabited by an array gargantuan sea life, including giant seahorses, and a monstrous eel, which Tarzan battles to the death. It is not known of these creatures are prehistoric in origin, or if some property of the lake (or perhaps breeding by the Asharians) has increased their size.


A lost Portuguese colony located high in the Abyssinian highlands, butyl tat the top of a plateau in the early 1500s by Cristoforo Da Gama, who named the city for his homeland. By the twentieth century the Alemtjans were a mixed race of white Portuguese and Bantu blood. They retained icons of both their native relions, including many Christian symbols, as well as tribal gods and blood sacrifice. The city was girded by a deep gorge, inhabited by man-eating lions to guard against intruders.

Chichen Itza

A lost Maya colony somewhere in the south Pacific. It is located on the island of Uxmal (not the original Uxmal), and named after an original Mayan city. This lost city is not located in Africa, but Tarzan was taken to the island after being captured by enemies and their ship crashed. There, he rescued the Mayan girl Itzal Cha from human sacrifice, which is still part of this people’s culture.


Ur was the last city invented by Burroughs himself, for a novel he never completed. Besides the name, which was penned by ERB, nothing else of this mysterious lost city is known. This novel was finally completed in the 1990s by Joe R, Landsdale, an author better known for his Western/Horror novels, under the title Tarzan: the Lost Adventure, and published by Dark Horse comics. It was given the pulpish treatment it deserved, published in serial format in four separate parts, with noted illustrators like Tom Yeates, and Micheal Kaluta. Landsdale’s version of Ur is a most interesting one that Burroguhs himself strangely never got around to writing; a civilization of highly cultured Black Africans, perhaps similar to ancient Kush. According to Landsdale, all of Africa had once been under domination by the Urites, but gradually their empire collapsed, its inhabitants became isolated, and though their culture is still advanced, it has also degenerated, and its inhabitants relish human sacrifice to a god-being called Ebopa, who originally came up from “the world below”. In reality, Ebopa is a giant species of Pellucidaran mantis, which somehow made it up from the Earth’s Core. The details of Urite culture are very Burroguhs-like, to the extent of other of Burroguhs’ lost cities. These civilized Blacks ride in zebra –driven chariots. Their city is girded by a moat infested with “sacred” albino crocodiles. The throne room of the royal palace of Ur is guarded by a pair of black lions (jet-black, unlike the nearly black lions of Xuja). The question, however, is that is this city-and the rest of the novel-the way Burroguhs would have envisioned it? The answer is probably not. First, Burroughs’ own lost cities, were, with the exception of Ashair and Thebos, whose inhabitants descend from colonies of ancient Egypt, non-African in origin. While it is hardly certain, it is likely this trend would continue had Burroughs continued to write. Second, the name “Ur” does not sound native in origin, and certainly not Negroid. The civilization would almost certainly have been near-eastern origin, had ERB lived to complete it. The ancient Babylonian colony, simply called “New Babylon” featured in the Russ Manning-illustrated story “Tarzan and the Glorious”, first published in issue #26 of Comics Feature, gives a better example of what Burroughs own version of this lost city might have been like (the story, by the way, features an ancient prophecy written over 3,000 years ago, of a woman of legendary beauty who will someday rule all of Africa. Warriors from all over Tarzan’s Africa make a pilgrimage to New Babylon, not only of the Arabs and numerous Black tribes, but of the various Lost Cities as well. Even a warrior of lost Pal-ul-don, and Joiper of the Ant-Men are there. They compete for this prize by crossing wood beams set over a pit of ravenous lions. The first warrior to reach the girl wins). There are other aspects of Lansdale’s story that don’t seem like the way ERB would have done it, even though the story is very much in Burroguhsian vein. It is a bit bloodier, for one thing (remember, Landsdale is better known as a horror writer). For another, the present inhabitants of Ur seem to be entirely evil, at least the ones the main characters encounter; Burroughs would have at least some I habitants of any lost city turn out be good. For another, he includes a cliché that is common among “lost race” stories, particularly in film versions, and has Ur destroyed in the end. Burroughs kept his lost cities around, and even had Tarzan return to some of them for further adventures. Finally, though Lansdale steers away form Political Correctness (which, unfortunately, has become the bane of many recent Tarzan comics stories), the conclusion of the novel seems oddly downbeat, and modern, uncharacteristic of Burroughs, with Tarzan reflecting that his Africa is slowly being destroyed by modern civilization, and hoping to find refuge by following Ebopa’s tunnel to Pellucidar. As the Tarzan pastiche, Landsdale’s novel is a good one; the only trouble was that it was advertised as being authentic Burroughs, which in fact it is not.


Many other lost civilizations have been discovered by Tarzan in the numerous pastiches and comics over the years. Burne took the Ape-man to a lost colony of Vikings, and later to two rival colonies of ancient Hindu or near eastern origin, one of whom had learned to train mastodons (who roamed their remote island) as war-mounts. The Hal Foster comics strips took the Ape-Man to a lost colony of ancient Egypt, still ruled by a Pharoe, and to another “City of Gold”, which was built by a descendents of a civilization of ancient minor who were unrelated to the inhabitants of Opar or Cathne. Burne Hogarth took Tarzan to other numerous lost realms, including a colony of ancient Vikings, a forgotten Tartar civilization, who had learned to train the wild mastodons still found on their native isle as war-mounts, and lost Chinese colony, guarded by a ravine filled with voracious lions. Lost remnants of ancient Egypt featured again in the DC comics series drawn by Joe Kubert, the Filmation TV series of the seventies, and the Russ Manning strips., in his story “The Stone Pharoah”. It was Manning, incidentally, who established that the numerous “lost valleys” found throughout Tarzan’s Africa (at least some of them) actually resided within “pocket dimensions”, which explained how they could remain undiscovered into the modern era. This was most emphasized in the case of lost Pal-ul-don, perhaps because a hidden land filled with prehistoric men and animals surviving into the modern era seemed even more farcical. Phillip Jose Farmer, in his recent Tarzan pastiche, The Dark Heart of Time, takes the Ape-Man on a “missing adventure,” that is believed to have occurred sometime after Tarzan the Untamed, and before Tarzan the Terrible, and actually ties up a notorious “loose end” of the former novel. This loose end involves a an ancient skeleton bearing conquistador-like armor which Tarzan finds in the Xujan dessert, along with a curious metal cylinder containing an enigmatic parchment. What follows is an adventure much in the Burroughs tradition, filled with the usual perils and escapes, and encounters with lost races, such as bizarre race of “tree pygmies”, and a lost city, called the ”City Built by God”. Unlike Farmer’s Opar books, I found this novel to be very readable, much like Burroughs originals, although certain aspects such as the alien “Ghost Frog” worshipped by the city’s inhabitants seemed more science fictional, than one would expect in a Tarzan book.

Tarzan of the Comics

Has interest in Tarzan diminished over the last three decades? If one looks at the duration of the various Tarzan series produced in comic book form, it certainly seems to have done so. After all Tarzan had his origin in the Pulps a form of literature which is now passed into extinction. The same is true for plethora of other pulp heroes and “lost race” stories that were directly modeled after ERB in the 1930s and 40s. The same now seems to be true of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, and the entire “Sword and Sorcery” genre that sprang form the original Conan stories. All these heroes were of course, staples of the pulps, and once the pulps were gone, jungle and barbarian heroes, were quite likely already beginning to diminish. For someone who never truly knew the pulp heroes in their original medium, it seems a bit strange to declare them “unsuited” to the medium of comics, which they were soon forced to adapt. After all, the “Sword and Sorcery” boom of the late sixties and early seventies, not only saw the original Conan tales published in novel form, as well as their many imitations, but the birth of most of the barbarian comics, most notably Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, which was to last for well over one hundred issues over three decades. There were many imitations as well, most of them short lived. Two of the Warlord and Ka-Zar, borrowed from both the ERB and Howardian gnres, but managed to use fresh approaches, and in-depth characters which managed to breath new life into both. Ka-Zar, in particular, was a direct copy of Burroughs jungle man, and Warlord took place with in a hollow, prehistoric land within the world’s center. But without going into further detail on these separate pulpish creations, suffice saying that all of them-Ka-Zar, Warlord, Kull, Red Sonja Skull, Stalker, Claw, Tar, Tragg, Turok, Jungle Twins, Brothers of the Spear, Tor, Conan and even Tarzan and Korak—none of them exist now. Some heroes, such as Toka and Jongor of Lost Land, never made it beyond the demise of the pulps themselves. While the graphic medium of the comics seemed an ideal home to these fantastic adventures-I will never forget the gorgeous art by the likes of Mike Grell, Brent Anderson, and John Buscema-it was super-heroes who had their roots in this medium, which perhaps the plush heroes could never entirely adapt. Comics remains the domain of the super-hero up until this very day, but the jungle and barbarian heroes have passed into oblivion.

The first Tarzan comics series was produced by Dell comics in the fifties and sixties. It was a very successful run, lasting for well over one hundred issues. In addition to original adventures, the early Dell issues also featured sections on the Ape-English lexicon, educational bits on African animals and cultures, and information on Tarzan’s jungle realm, such species of ancestral elephant which inhabited lost Pal-ul-don. Most of the artwork tended to be substandard, and while most of the material was derived from Burroguhs, they didn’t follow ERBs stories particularly well. The Lost cities of Athne and Cathne were incorporated into Pal-ul-don, for example. The gryfs of Pal-ul-don were usually a drab green or gray, and “Pal-ul-donian” species such as pteranodons and Phororhcas were given the Pelluciadaran terms “thipdar” and “dyal”. The stories were much in the Burroughs tradition, however, in spite of the many embellishments. And the series also featured adaptations of the original Tarzan novels, which they followed very closely. Many of these adaptations, such as Tarzan and Ant Men , Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, and “Incredible Pal-ul-don” (Tarzan the Terrible were adapted by comics legend Russ Manning. Some of these were reprinted in the nineties by Dark Horse, but they pretty much spoiled them by their bad coloration.

After the series had been cancelled, DC took up Tarzan, Korak, and other Burroughs heroes for a fairly successful run. DC’s approach was different than Dell’s, but no less true to Burroughs. Comics legend Joe Kubert, who had patterned his own hero Tor on Tarzan scripted and drew the first several issues. Kubert’s writing was distinctive, and in his Tales Tarzan is often an educated jungle loner, one of the few who truly understands honor and selflessness, in a world in which the lost races and tribes he encounters are governed basically by instinct, and man’s basic “animal” nature. This is very much in the vein of Kubert’s earlier hero Tor. Korak, Jane, are entirely absent from these stories, in which Tarzan’s only occasional allies are the Great Apes. In one of these tales, Tarzan liberates, a strange white-skinned race from a cruel Black Queen. He wrestles her champion, then fights a jet-black lion, which eventually becomes Tarzan’s companion. It turns out that the Queen is not truly evil, though part of her, up to the end of the story, had been morally blind. Her own tribe had been enslaved by Europeans, and she sought a misguided vengeance on people who merely looked the same. The following issue is the story of a ruthless white poacher who seeks to find trophies of “only the rarest African species”. He kills a caracal, and a white elephant calf, and then becomes obsessed with taking the head of the black lion. Since he is in Tarzan’s Africa, this of course, earns him the wrath of Tarzan. The Ape Man is eventually able to kill this intruder, but not before the black lion has been destroyed. However, a new lion cub is born to the black lion’s mate, which carries the trait of melanism from its paternal parent. In another story, Tarzan encounters a tribe of African pygmies living deep within a secluded region of jungle.

The region has preserved certain prehistoric species (though this is neither Pal-ul-don nor Pellucidar, but a separate lost realm). These include a saber-tooth cat, which Tarzan battles and slays in the opening sequence, and a strange carnivorous reptile, which isn’t quite like any known dinosaur species. Tarzan rescues two girls of the tribe who were intended as a sacrifice to this beast. Later, he is able to kill the beast in front of the tribe’s chief, who believes Tarzan’s rescue of the sacrificial victims has imperiled his people. Tarzan tells them that their own cowardice kept them from destroying the beast long ago. In addition to these original stories. Kubert also adapted some of ERBs actual novels, some of which hadn’t been done before, such as Tarzan and the Lion Man. Strangely, Kubert made some alterations in certain of the Tarzan stores. In his adaptation of “the Nightmare” (one of ERB’s “Jungle Tales of Tarzan”), he makes the dream-lion made of stone, and the Bolgoni Tarzan fights to the death at the climax is an albino!

This actually makes a bit more sense than the way Burroughs wrote it, as it is easier to see why Tarzan would mistake the gorilla for a figment of his imagination. Kubert left the series sometime after that, but the alterations of some of the novels would continue, even with a different set of writers and artists. The lost city Tarzan encounters in their adaptation of Tarzan the Untamed, looks nothing like that of the mad Xujans, and the inhabitants appear to be of either Greek or Roman descent. The people also worship a monster called a “glyph”, to which captive outsiders are fed. It resembles a mutant carnivorous glyptodont (a huge armadillo-like mammal). Tarzan battles and slays the beast, and rescues Jane, whom he had not found yet in the original. This ending may have come about because the writers had originally intended to adapt the next novel, Tarzan the Terrible, but by this time cancellation was pending, and they decided to wrap things up.

DC also produced a number of expanded issues of Tarzan around the middle of the series run. These issues featured not only a lead Kubert Tarzan story, but abbreviated Tarzan stories taken from the current Manning newspaper strips, a Korak story, and a few non-Burroughs features such as Detective Chimp, and Congo Bill. Later, they produced some “Giant” Tarzan Family issues. “Tarzan Family” was advertised as being “the” Burroughs book, and in this they meant exactly what they said. Only Burroughs characters were featured this time, including a lead Tarzan feature, a Korak feature, more Manning Tarzan features, and even some old Hal Foster Tarzan reprints, along with tales of John Carter and Carson of Venus. The series was soon cancelled however. Korak, by the way, was given his own series by DC, just as he was by Dell in the sixties. In most of the Korak DC books, the Son of Tarzan wanders the uncharted regions of the world like a lost spirit, in search of a girl he loves named Merium. This being Burroughs universe, he comes across all manner of weird monsters and forgotten races, in these lost regions. Often these Korak stories have a haunting, tragic quality about them, though there are a number located in the more familiar terrain of Tarzan’s Africa, with a couple of them even set in Pal-ul-don. DC also published a short-lived companion comics to the Tarzan series, titled Weird Worlds. These featured adaptations of the original David Innes and John Carter novels.

While DC’ Tarzan series enjoyed a fairly respectable run, it as cancelled before the end of the seventies, and shortly afterward Marvel picked up the Ape-Man, and run a series which lasted until 1979, along with another John Carter book entitled John Carter: Warlord of Mars. Marvel’s Tarzan had a less successful run than either of its predecessors, largely because of the numerous errors that were picked up by Burroughs enthusiasts. The first run of issues were a straightforward adaptation of Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, interspersed with issues adapting stories from Jungle Tales of Tarzan. Then they went on to a Tarzan original story set mostly in Pellucidar, called “Blood Money and Human Bondage”.

All these tales were drawn by John Buscema, whose work on Marvel’s Conan was legendary, and who actually did a very good job depicting the Ape-Man. The main faults in the book lay in the script. The “Blood Money and Human Bondage” story was divided into chapters within each issue, which gave the tale a very pulpish, Burroughsian flavor. The story had plenty of action, captures and escapes, including two (Once where Tarzan dives off a Pellucidararn cliff the height of a skyscraper, and another where he breaks the jaw of a tylosaurus) that were a bit over the top. However, the story’s chief villain was Abdul Alhazrad, “The Mad Arab”, who is actually a character originally created not by Burroughs but by H. P. Lovecraft. Alhazard has acquired near- superhuman strength, and strange powers from a gigantic “living” crystal that is kept by the Mahars of Pellucidar. Alhazrad, and his flunkies, a gang of ruthless tarmangani, invade Tarzan’s jungle, kill one of Tarzan’s ape friend, and alter journey into Pellucidar through a “time portal” which seems out of place. Tarzan follows them across the inner earth in vengeance, and the story climaxes with a fight to the death between Tarzan and Alhazrad in the Mahar coliseum. One subplot involves a girl named Ashia, a princess of an African tribe, and her friendship with Danger, a young warrior of Pellucidar. These crash on the Moon of Pellucidar, where they are captured by the last survivors of the Mahar race. Here is where most Burroughs fans began to have problems with the series. Almost every aspect of the Mahars is wrong, as they are depicted as male, speaking without telepathy, and inventing a sound weapon when they are supposed to be deaf! They also bear only a faint resembles to the Mahars of Burroguhs novel. Another curious fact is that one reader remarked on the inclusion of Dangar, a warrior of Sari, who was introduced in Back to the Stone Age, when the writer were apparently unaware that a warrior named Dangar existed in the original series! After the Pellucidar adventure wrapped up, there began a new original Tarzan story, in which Tarzan returns home, only to have himself and his mate, along with Jad-bal-ja, captured by a ruthless showman, who takes them to New York for exploitation. Tarzan is drugged so that he can speak only in the guttural tongue of the Great Apes, which only sound like gibberish to the patrons, and is therefore billed as a “wild man” in Roger Tory’s “Safari Club”. Tarzan and Jad-bal-ja are forced to battle a gigantic albino gorilla in a simulated “Jungle”, behind thick glass for the amusement of the club members. The bolgoni has also been drugged, in order to make it savage. They are able to defeat the bolgoni and escape, however, when a New York gang,(to whom Tory owes money, intervenes. Tarzan and Jane scale the Empire State building, King Kong style, to escape their pursuers, and Korak rescues them in a biplane. The series lasted only one issue further, and this saw Tarzan and family safely returned to his native Africa. This final Tarzan adventure in the Marvel series had more in common with Mighty Joe Young and King Kong then with Burroughs. One problem I had with the story was that although hypocritical nature of the ruthless kidnappers, who are forever deriding Tarzan and his mate as savages, the animals throughout the series (with the exception of Jad-bal-ja), are simply portrayed as non-thinking killing machines. I was hoping that the drugs would wear off the bolgoni, so that perhaps Tarzan could reason with him, and both of them could get even with Tory. As it was, even though the gorilla is itself a victim of mankind’s cruelty, it is simply a “monster” that must be killed.

With the exception of a two- issue semi-tie-in with the Greystoke movie in the eighties, published by marvel, nothing more was seen of Tarzan in the comics after that for a long time. Then, sometime in the mid-nineties, Malibu launched their now-infamous Tarzan the Warrior series. To be fair, I cannot really comment on the script for this series, since I avoided buying it due to the very poor artwork. However, many ERB fans have complained that the story was non-jungle, and very non Burroguhsian. Malibu then continued with Tarzan the Beckoning, which was written and excellently rendered by Thomas Yeates. In spite of its Politically Correct content, this book was a vast improvement over what had followed. Set very much in Tarzan’s Africa, Yeates’ story featured flashbacks to Tarzan’s boyhood, African mysticism, and the discovery of a lost world, and thriving civilization which appears to reside within a “pocket dimension.” Strange beasts dwell here in, seemingly related to those in Pellucidar, including a strange flying reptile, which may in fact be a trodon, that nearly flies off with Jane, and a horde of giant lizard-like reptiles which set upon and devour the trodon once the flying creature becomes trapped in the forest canopy. Tarzan identifies the lizard as the same species as the gorobors of Pellucidar. As with most of Burroughs own novels the valley is inhabited by two antagonistic people. One are white-skinned descendents of the original Atlantis, who were once civilized, but who have devolved into a race of subhuman savages, by inbreeding, and the Rhomahal, a tall race of dark Africans who are technologically advanced, and have learned to live at peace with nature. While Yeates’ race of pacifist, vegetarian Blacks, who are the fathers of all human civilization, most definitely bears the stamp of modern Afrocentrism, Yeates’ infusion of his deeply held ideological convictions with his love of the original Tarzan novels make the tale interesting, in an offbeat kind of way. Beckoning comes across as exactly the sort of novel ERB himself might have penned, had he embraced the radical ideology of the sixties!

Malibu’s Tarzan was discontinued after that, but Political Correctness would remain a lasting presence within Tarzan comics from then on. Sometime later, Dark Horse acquired the rights to ERB characters. They began with their publication of Tarzan: the Lost Adventure, in authentic pulp format in a series of four issues. Each featured artwork by noted artists, such as Thomas Yeates, and Michael Kaluta. Later,the volumes were collected in hardback and paperback form. Each volume of The Lost Adventure also contained, as backup feature, a series of previously unpublished Tarzan strips by John Coleman Burroughs. The Lost Adventure was a good story for fans hungering for a new Tarzan novel, but in spite of the hype, most of it was a Joe R. Lansdale pastiche. Sales were successful, however, which prompted Dark Horse to follow up with two Tarzan comics’ series: Tarzan/John Carter: Warlords of Mars, and Tarzan vs. Predator at the Earth’s Core. While the former of these featured gorgeous cover and interior art by Bret Blevins, and script by Bruce Jones (a veteran at pulpish adventure yarns), it did not go over particularly well among fans. I am not entirely sure why this is so. First of all, it was true that there were at least two deviations from Burroughs’ Ape-Man which were indeed cause for Burroughs fans to raise cries of blasphemy. The first of these is that Tarzan apparently has a brief, but genuine love affair with Dejah Thoris, which sets up the coming conflict with her mate. Back in the eighties, Jones scripted a number of issues of Marvel’s Ka-Zar, who was a direct Tarzan take-off. He gave the love-relation between Ka-Zar, and his mate Shanna conflict, since Ka-Zar was constantly drawn to other beautiful women he encountered. With a Tarzan imitation, this was permissible, and even added spice to their romance. But with the original Ape-Man, it was entirely different story. The early Foster and Hogarth strips, in fact, much emphasized Tarzan’s monogamy. The other deviation was the curious fact of darkening Tarzan’s skin for no apparent reason. Tarzan skin remained uncharacteristically dark, for virtually all of the Dark Horse series, but in the John Carter team-up it was particularly extreme. Issues three and four in fact, colored him a dark purple brown of some of the native African tribes. Did anyone remember that the name “Tarzan” literally translates as “white-skin?” These two things aside, however, I found the series to be excellent. The art, in particular, was excellent, and harked back to the early Tarzan issues of seventies, when Buscema and Kubert were still working on them. The battle with Banths and White Apes in the arena was a treat, as was the sword fight between Dejah Thoris and Pudrid Mos. Jones gave the ending of the story was quite a twist, when Tarzan’s spirit returns to his body on early, the spirit of the White Martian Ape find the form of on of the Great Apes of Tarzan’s jungle. Curiously, though, some fans complained of the art, which was actually better than that which followed in Dark Horse’s ongoing Tarzan series. There was at least one objection, to Blevins’ scantily clad-sexy-drawn women, though I have never heard that compliant made of any other Burroughs artist. The Predator/Pellucidar series was also enjoyable, and brought some neat twists as well, such as when David Innes and his mate are found to be under the influence of a Mahar.

Dark Horse followed with Tarzan: The Ongoing Series. The first story sequence was “Tarzan’s jungle Fury”. The story concerned a strange plaque that had invaded Tarzan’s Africa., and has infected tarzan’s mate Jane. Also, strange animals like six-legged lions, and dinosaur like monsters, miles from the lost land of Pal-ul-don have begun turning up in Tarzan’s jungle. A mysterious girl named Kita tells Tarzan that her people, the Kavel have the cure. Tarzan Kita, and some tarmangani outsiders begin a trek to the Lost Cities of Fala, home to two races known as the kavel and the Arten. south of the Great Thorn Forest. The only problem is, Tarzan has visited the lost cities, and found them to be in ruin. Once they travel there, they find them to be inhabited and thriving. A series of a adventures follow, in which we discover the following: Upon his return from Barsoom Tarzan brought with him the spores of a sentient Martian plant known as the tara. On its native planet, the tara was part of the natural cycle of life, but once taken seed on earth, the plant’s DNA merged with in mutated certain terran life forms. It reawakened the DNA of the ancient Kavel and Artan, bringing the two people back to life. It also mutated the lower animals, turning them into monstrosities of Barsoomian and terran genetic structure. The human-tara hybrids are “grown” in pods, and human intelligence is increased a hundredfold. This enables Artan technology to grow at an exponetial rate, and their technology soon surpasses that of their ancestors. The Artan purposely cultivate more of their new species, aiming to eventually infect the entire planet. But where the original Artan and Kavel coexisted peacefully, their resurrected counterparts are bitter rivals. While the Artan seek to conquer humanity, the Kavel seek to destroy them through ritual sacrifice rather than to perpetuate the tara. Eventually, a means is found to eliminate the tara from the hosts’ DNA, therby eliminating the threat, and returning the plant/human hybrids to their original human form. The story neatly ties in with the John Carter crossover, and Jones is here at the peak of his form, expanding on the possibilities presented by the “lost race” genre, while making the grievous error which fled the previous series.

Jones wrote no further Tarzan stories for dark Horse however, and the following story sequences were less inventive. The next, “Tarzan and Legion of Hate,” dealt with a Nazi invasion of Tarzan’s Africa, and brought the Ape-Man back into contact with the Kaji amazons of Tarzan the Magnificent. It was a decent enough story, though it focused a bit too much on the destruction of Africa by Europeans. After that, Dark Horse launched a series of story sequences which teamed Tarzan with various icons of classic horror literature. These included Tarzan and the modern Prometheus, which teamed Tarzan with Frankenstein’s Monster, Tarzan Le Monstre, which teamed him with the Phantom of the Opera, and one other, which teamed him Jekyle and Hyde. I thought that these were getting away from being Tarzan altogether. There was no jungle in any of these stories, and it doesn’t seem logical that any of these characters, all of whom were the creations of other writers, would exist in Burroughs’ universe. The next few series were better though, and returned to the original format. Tom Yeates wrote and drew a separate Tarzan mini-series, which was first published in serial format in Previews This was an excellent adaptation of Burroughs’ The Return of Tarzan.

This occurred about the same time as a sequence called “Tarzan and the Moon Men” concerned a future invasion of Tarzan’s jungle by the war-like Kalkars, of ERBs’ Moon stories. Tarzan is able to reach them through the cave of Oo (from the Eternal Savage). This story offers a glimpse into Burroguhs’ Africa at the time some of ERB’s future projection novels take place. It also does decent job tying Tarzan and other ERB series together. The next separate mini-series teamed Tarzan with Carson of Venus, just as they had earlier with John Carter. The next Tarzan sequence was to be titled Tarzan: the Savage Heart, in which the Ape-Man was to return to Pellucidar on the false presupposition of Jane’s death. At this point something unexpected occurred. Dark Horse put this series, and any other ERB projects on hiatus for about a year, until the eve of the release of Disney’s Tarzan movie. At first, this seemed to be a wise move on their part. The trouble was, the movie, while a decent enough Disney cartoon, wasn’t Burroughs any more then their Jungle Book cartoon was Kipling. The film was aimed more for preschoolers and a “family audience”, and was as unlikely as anything to draw new fans to the real Tarzan. As a result of wait, the Pellucidar series was damaged. It was still among the best of the Dark Horse efforts, with Alan Gross (author of the excellent pastiche Farewell Pellucidar , which he actually tied in with this series), and Mike Grell on the artwork. Grell’s rendering of the savage splendor of Burroughs’ inner world for the first two issues is virtually breathtaking. However is art for the next issue is diminished, as some of the inks and finished pencils are done by another artists. The art for the final issue is wretched, and only the thumbnail layouts are Grell’s work. This is probably a result of the wait; Grell probably didn’t return to finish the book a year afterward. Dark Horse also published a single issue “Tales of Pellucidar”, as sort of a sequel to “Savage Heart” drawn by Tom Yeates and Steven Bisette. It is a black and white book. The stories are good, and it introduces two new Pellucidaran races, the Mealians, a race of cannibalistic humanoid, whoa re able to alter their skin colors as implied by their name, and a strange race of antlered ”Antelope people”.

The following stories were decent enough, but diminished much from what preceded them. The next was a Tarzan/ Batman teamup, which actually worked better than it sounded, since it brought batman to the jungle, rather than the Jungle lord to Gotham, and there ensues a very Burroguhsian tale, complete with a lost city. Tarzan: Rivers of Blood followed. This was a good story with decent enough artwork, at least to begin with. But the last few issues make the mistake of taking Tarzan back to civilization. Even Burroughs fans seemed to have lost interest in Dark Horse “s Tarzan by then, and the book was cancelled in the middle of the series. Very little has been seen of the Tarzan since, but Dark Horse has recently produced one more series, the disasterous Tarzan/Superman crossover. This series seems primarily set in the jungle, an features La of Opar. However, it is the most horribly drawn Tarzan comic ever, surpassing even Malibu. That is not to say that the art is sloppy or lacking in talent; it is intentionally rendered in the blocky “modern” stylized form sadly common in many modern superhero comics. This appears to be an attempt to connect with modern comics readers, but as with virtually all previous such attempts, it will only have the affect of alienating true Burroughs fans.

This brings up another attempt to “modernize” Tarzan in recent years, and has diminished the quality of Tarzan efforts in recent years: Political Correctness. The most obvious manifestation of this is the darkening of Tarzan’s skin throughout the dark Horse comics series. It may seem a bit of a stretch to suppose this is make Tarzan appear “less white”. But the remark of one of the Kaji Amazons who questions that Tarzan is truly white, and the fact that the Manning reprints issued by Dark Horse, are “recolored for today’s audiences” seem to bear this supposition out. The Dark Horse Manning reprints—of the Caspak graphic novels, and the Dell adaptations of Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, The Son of Tarzan, Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible, are all welcome additions, and featured stunning cover art by Mark Shultz, the artist for Xenozoic Tales. However, Tarzan’s skin is darkened even in these books. What’s more, even the Ho-dons are a shade darker than they are supposed to be, and the gryfs are a plain slate gray, quite a contrast from the brightly colored beasts of the book. This whole issue brings us back to the question of whether Tarzan’s can survive in the modern era. True there have been some Tarzan revivals, and more are likely to come, but each has had less duration than the one. Indeed, current interest in Tarzan seems at an all-time low. The seventies at least had the Filmation and Ron Ely TV series. The recent Tarzan TV show, and the movie Tarzan and the Lost City did not gather a following. The reasons for this apparent lack of new interest are not particularly clear, but current political trends may indeed be one of them. Indeed, the very concept of god-like white man in midst of “savage” Africa is apt to cause problems. The Filmation TV series, a and recent Disney cartoon solved this problem by removing African natives from the story entirely. The recent Tarzan movie made the mistake of emphasizing the role of tarzan’s loyal friends the Waziri. Taking pains to portray African people in a positive light, would, one might suppose be the way to go. But a critic in Entertainment Weekly, in his review of the movie, said, in effect, “What would those poor simple minded Blacks do without Tarzan to look after them. The grade he gave the film was “F”. Even worse was an online review (not by a mainstream critic, by the way) of the Disney Tarzan. Film. Since that film, avoided the controversy altogether by simply eliminating Blacks from the script, these writers charged the filmmakers, not with making a racist film, but making a film based on racist source material. Among their attacks one of them stands out as particularly ludicrous. This was an opinion that Tarzan’s killing of Kulonga, the native warrior who killed his ape-mother, is racist and shows that even an apes live is worth more than a humans to Tarzan and Burroughs, if the human happens to be black. Indeed! Suppose then, that Tarzan’s maternal foster parent had been killed by a white hunter? Would Tarzan’s reaction have been any less savage? Would Tarzan recognize the “humanity” of his mother’s killer, because the man’s skin happened to be as white as his own, and forgo his vengeful attack? The very question seems farcical, especially considering that a “civilized” hunter invading tarzan’s realm, would have been likely, if anything, be cause an even more ferocious rage in Tarzan. But this isn’t really the point here. The point is that many, especially the age of PC it seems, react to aggressively to what Burroughs wrote without taking time to consider it. While some Tom Yeates’s stories do bear the mark of PC, it is important to remember that Yates, a genuine Burroughs fan, unlike the afore mentioned critics, saw ERB’s Tarzan as very embodiment, rather than the antithesis of, the idealistic values he aspired to as a child of the sixties cultural revolution. He has remarked that Tarzan’s forsaking of his aristocratic roots in order to live a life in Africa among the Waziri has seemed to the essence of the sixties attempt to overturn an order they saw as outdated and corrupt. And indeed, Tarzan’s preferred life among the Great Apes, even after his discovery of his aristocratic roots, is even more primitive than that of the African tribes. Nonetheless, the very fact that Tarzan is a white-skin hero, in Africa is enough to provoke controversy. I am not sure how to get around this, though there a couple of ways. The first would be to limit the numbers of Natives in any given Tarzan project. Most of Burroughs indeed focuses on the lost civilization Tarzan discovers, and all of these people are of non-sub-Saharan African descent. This is route the old Filmation cartoon took. The second way is not to focus on Tarzan, but to develop more projects around Burroughs’ other heroes, such as John Carter, and David Innes.

One last thing on Tarzan comics and their diminishing popularity: There was a letter in one of the Dark Horse Tarzan letter columns that urged the artists to changed the traditional style which dark Horse was sticking to, in favor of the more modern look in other comics. He sighted Marvel’s current 90s’ Ka-Zar (who they tried to make over in a super-hero image) as an example of what would sell. The reason was that, even though certain old-time Burroughs fans (such as myself) deplore this style of artwork, many other readers prefer it, and that this would be the beast way to bring a new generation to Tarzan. My response is simply this: readers, who prefer the new stylized approach to the artwork to the traditional, will also prefer the “new” heroes to the “classic” ones. The approach will likely only alienate the old-time Burroughs fans. If Marvels’ previously long-running Conan series could not stay afloat in the nineties, despite the efforts to “modernize” the artwork. The aforementioned Ka-Zar series lasted shorter than the previous one, and dark Horse’s own stylization of Tarzan in the Superman crossover, has not appeared to have drawn in a new generation of Tarzan fans.