The first volume to collect artist Russ Manning's work on the Tarzan comic book from the mid sixties, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Russ Manning Years, is now available from the library. (Click here to reserve our copy.)
This book is a pure visual feast for fans of Burroughs and Manning!
Decades ago, comic book and newspaper strip versions of ERB's popular "Tarzan of the Apes" had hued closer to the likable lunkhead version popularized in the Johnny Weissmuller/Lex Barker Tarzan films from the 30s through the 50s. You know, the version where Tarzan, who spoke in very fractured grammar, lived in a treehouse with Jane, their adopted son Boy, and that annoying monkey Cheetah.
Well, around the early sixties, somebody at the Burroughs estate decided to rehabilitate that image of Tarzan. (Earlier, in the 1959 film, Tarzan's Greatest Adventure, Gordon Scott's Tarzan was depicted as somebody who spoke in lucid, complete sentences, with no Jane or Boy hanging around.) One of the first things they did was get Gold Key Comics, the then-current licensors of the Tarzan comic, to faithfullu adapt the original Burroughs novels and adher to the author's take on the character.
Beginning with Tarzan of the Apes #155 (December 1965), readers finally got to see their favorite character rendered as scrupulously as possible by Manning and writer Gaylord DuBois. DuBois and Manning adapted the first five Tarzan novels plus books seven and eight, Tarzan The Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible, in condensed but lucid and exciting graphic stories.
In addition to seeing Tarzan as the noble (and articulate) half-man/half-ape warrior, DuBois and Manning not only depicted Jane and Korak (Tarzan and Jane's natural son) as failthfully as possible , they also kept the early 20th century time period setting (going as far as World War One) AND they introduced or reintroduced such characters and concepts as La, the high priestess of the forbidden city of Opar, and the prehistoric-like land of Pal-Ul-Don.
The Russ Manning Years, which reprints material from 1965-67. show that while DuBois' scripts are well-written and fast-paced, Manning's art is the best thing these adaptations have going for them. Besides being an exciting and natural storyteller, Manning also displays terrific perspective, layout and human (and other) anatomy. His rendering of ERB's characters, including even the horrific apemen of Opar, actually look real!
(The ERB Estate obviously loved these adaptations. Manning wound up writing and drawing the Tarzan newspaper strip from 1967 to 1979. Here's a sample.)
For fans of Tarzan and/or good solid graphic storytelling, this book's for you. And when's Volume Two coming out?
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