The Unauthorized Tarzan

Collecting Jungle Tales of Tarzan #1-4 (Charlton, Dec 64-July 65)

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Sam Glanzman

Dark Horse, $29.99, color, 128 pages

As one of the two excellent essays in this book explains, Charlton Comics thought Edgar Rice Burroughs' jungle lord had fallen into the public domain in 1963, and began its own Tarzan series, with Charlton stalwart Gill on the typewriter and Glanzman (whose Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle had just been canceled) on pencils.

It's an interesting book. As someone who's never been much of a Jesse Marsh fan -- the artist on Western Publishing's Tarzan book from 1947 to 1965 -- this was a pretty fresh take on the Jungle Lord visually, while the story content was very familiar. (Gill adapted stories from ERB's Jungle Tales of Tarzan, which itself swiped generously from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.) I'm not a huge Glanzman fan either (he seems to have trouble with anatomy and facial expressions), but it was very much a step up from Marsh's work -- which, the essay says, was at the time considered "competent but dated."

There's not much more to say. ERB Inc.'s lawyers swung into action when Jungle Tales of Tarzan #1 hit the stands, and by issue #4 Charlton had surrendered. These four issues aren't a satisfying meal of any kind, but just an appetizer, a hint of what could have been. Interesting for us comics fanatics, no doubt, but probably less so for the average reader.

As I said above, there are two essays in this book to expand the page count enough to justify the price (maybe). They are, as I said, pretty good. The first one goes on to say (after the Jesse Marsh remark) that the better sales on Charlton's Tarzan book lit a fire under Western's editors, and Marsh was let go. Evidently it was the relative success of the unauthorized Tarzan that initiated the chain of events that put Russ Manning on Western's Tarzan, which is a pretty interesting thing to know. (Wikipedia says Marsh left Tarzan due to failing health. Where's the truth? Somewhere in the middle, probably, where it always is.)

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Some of the stories have been adapted to comics several times. Wikipedia's page on the book lists

-the Charlton version, with eight of the stories

-a Gold Key version of four in Tarzan ##169-170, with art by Alberto Giolitti

-a DC version of three in Tarzan #212-214, with art by Joe Kubert

-Burne Hogarth's 1976 book version, with four. (I can't verify how many of the stories he adapted. My recollection is the volume was B&W, whereas his previous adaptation of the earlier part of Tarzan of the Apes, of which I'm very fond, was in colour.)

-Marvel versions of the majority of the stories, in issues of the monthly and Tarzan Annual #1, with pencils by John Buscema. The Wikipedia entry says Marvel adapted six of the stories, but the GCD tells me #12 adapted a story too ("The Lion", by the looks of it), making seven. Contrary to the Wikipedia entry "Tarzan Rescues the Moon" apparently appeared in the ongoing, and "The End of Bukawai" in the annual.

-a version of "Tarzan's First Love" by Malibu

 

To which I think I can add an item, namely this Gold Key digest with art by Dan Spiegle. It may be it adapted other stories from the collection to the Giolitti issues.

 

(corrected)

Cool! Thanks for the info, Luke. In fact, it fills in a hole I had briefly wondered about, where Wikipedia mentioned that Western hadn't adapted Jungle Tales of Tarzan when Unauthorized came out, which may be why Charlton chose to launch with it. Since Western had adapted so many of the other books that seemed odd, but from your work above it appears they eventually got around to it. If Dark Horse ever gets around to those Giolitti issues, it would be interesting to compare them to the Glanzman ones.

And I knew that DC and Marvel had used some of the stories, because I have those!

I don’t have anything to add to what has already been said above, but The Unauthorized Tarzan was the first thing I read after finishing DC’s recent Joe Kubert Presents limited series, which presented his mature work. A couple of years ago, when Marvel’s then-current Hercules series was under discussion, I was inspired to sample other publishers’ versions of Hercules, including the one Glanzman did for Charlton. The three series provide an interesting look at Glanzman’s career, but I don’t know too much else about him. I know he did “A Sailor’s Story” graphic novel for Marvel, but although his work on Joe Kubert Presents inspired me to read it, I haven’t yet found a copy.

Back to The Unauthorized Tarzan, I could recommend it only to the Tarzan completist. The more casual (yet still serious) fan would be much better served buying the Russ Manning Tarzan Archives (and/or the Russ Manning Tarzan Comic Strip Archives, which is next up for me).

I became acquainted with Glanzman from his "U.S.S. Stevens" stories, about daily events aboard said ship during WWII, which seemed to appear randomly in DC war books in the '70s. I gradually became aware that they were quasi-autobiographical, and critically acclaimed. (They didn't do much for me.) Once I became aware of his style, I started noticing him occasionally in Charlton comics, somtimes in house ads for books I never got (Hercules).

Copyright issues with ERB's work were not confined to the comic book world. Burroughs books had gone dormant in the 1950's, then in the early Sixties both Ballantine and Ace began producing paperbacks of the various Burroughs series, additionally Canaveral Press was issuing hardbound editions of same. So it was now possible to find three different versions of the same title. The Burroughs estate finally woke up to what was happening and attempted to put things right. Canaveral continued the hardbound editions while on the paperback side Ballantine received the rights to the Tarzan and Mars series with Ace getting Pellucidar and Venus and the various other non-series books.

 

Above info gleaned from Richard Lupoff's excellent Edgar Rice Burroughs:Master of Adventure.

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