Wednesday, September 16, 2020

John Carter in Comics (Part I)

Buck Rogers first appeared in comic strip form in 1929 and Flash Gordon followed three years later. Both strips were extraordinarily successful, so much so that United Feature Syndicate (which also distributed Buck Rogers) eventually agreed to a proposal by John Coleman Burroughs, the son of Edgar Rice Burroughs, to produce a serialized comic based on his father's John Carter of Mars stories. 

The first strip premiered on December 7, 1941, a day remembered more for other events. Here's what it looked like:

The style is reminiscent of other comics from the era, not just Flash Gordon but also Hal Foster's Prince Valiant, in not having speech balloons and presenting a generally "realistic" style of illustration. As you can see, this strip is a fairly straight adaptation of the beginning of A Princess of Mars. Here's another installment, this time featuring the incomparable Dejah Thoris.
As an aside, I learned that Burroughs used his wife, Jane Ralston Burroughs, as a model for many of the female characters he drew. Here's a photograph of Mrs Burroughs dressed as Dejah Thoris:
Burroughs produced 73 installments of the comic before it ended in April 1943. It would be another decade before John Carter would again appear in comic form, as we shall see in the next post in this series.


  1. Have you seen Lovecraft Country? You would probably have a lot of thoughts on it, but in relation to this I'd be interested in hearing what you think about the brief cameo by a very red and very exotic Dejah Thoris.

    1. I have not. I don't really watch much TV these days (not that I ever did) and, if it's on a premium channel, the odds of my seeing it anytime soon are small.

    2. I'd say google an image of Dejah from it, but even I'm having trouble finding it. I did see that there is actually a comic book out there that teams Dejah and Barbarella in a cosmic adventure. I can't decide it that's the worst thing ever or the greatest thing ever...

  2. Damn. That Burroughs was a lucky fella.