My earliest memory of Tarzan (I think) is watching the movie Tarzan's Three Challenges on television. (This would have been circa 1969.) By the time I read my first Tarzan comic book, I was already familiar with the Ron Ely television show as well as the Johnny Weissmuller movies. By the time I was in junior high school, I was aware of the bad rap those movies had among ERB fans. (I understand their reasoning, but I don't agree with it.) My first Tarzan comic is a toss-up between 100-Page Super-Spectacular Vol. 1, No. DC-19 (Aug 1973) and Tarzan Vol. 26, No. 223 (Sep 1973), which undoubtedly acquired at the same time.
Of the two, I consider Tarzan #223 to be my actual "first." Although I enjoyed the 100-pager a great deal, it was the Joe Kubert one that really rocked my world (which is to say, my conception of what "Tarzan" could be). Whereas the "Super-Spectacular" was a reprint (of Russ Manning newspaper comics, which I would learn years later), #223 was the last chapter of Kubert's adaptation of ERB's second Tarzan novel, The Return of Tarzan. A year or so later, DC issued two (abridged) "treasury editions" of Kubert's adaptations of ERB's first wo Tarzan novels, Tarzan of the Apes and The Return of Tarzan.
ERB fans are disdainful of the Weissmuller movies, but I tend to cut them a considerable amount of slack. It was the Weissmuller movies (in particular) which led me to the comic book, and the comic book which led me to the novels. I'm certain those same movies led many a fan over the years directly to the books. Yes, the books are "truer," but the movies have a charm all their own. The shame is fans who never move past the movies to discover the books.
Tarzan #223 was the final chapter of Kubert's adaptation of The Return of Tarzan as I mentioned, and it was like no Tarzan I had encountered before (in my nine years). [I should also mention at this point that I had a terrific View Master reel of the original Tarzan of the Apes.] It had William clayton, Rokoff, La and the Beast Men of Opar. the end sees Tarzan and Jane married, Tarzan declared the rightful Lord Greystoke, and him vowing to return one day to Opar. I should note that 100-Page Super-Spectacular #19 also featured La and the Beast Men, they were very "sanitized" versions in comparison to Joe Kubert's (not disrespect to Russ Manning intended).
This is a topic I have been considering for years but have always put it off because it is so huge. At the very least it will stand as a placeholder for when I get to the various comic books and dailies and Sundays until I finally loop back to those Russ Manning comic strips. We'll see how it goes.