Friday, August 21, 2009

Famous First Fridays: Marvel Comics' Tarzan #1

There's no doubt that Joe Kubert's Tarzan run at DC ranks extremely high on the list of Tarzan-to-comicbook adaptations. Those stories are so special that Dark Horse is currently reprinting all of them in a beautiful hardback series for all of comicdom to enjoy. Ol' Groove has a real soft spot for the Marvel Comics version that came just scant months after the DC version ended, though. Why? 'Cause, the series started off with the Conan dream team of writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema at the helm, adapting one of my favorite ERB novels, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, into an eleven issue epic, that's why! One look at Buscema's cover (that's it to the left), which paid homage to Clinton Pettee's cover of the October 1912 issue of All-Story (where Tarzan made his pulp debut, natch!), and there was no doubt that Marvel's version of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord of the Jungle was gonna be something special. That first issue, which hit the racks in March 1977, was a thing of true beauty--extra special since Big John inked it himself. Check it out...

After they finished adapting Jewels, Roy and John stuck around for a few more issues, adapting shorter stories, mainly from Jungle Tales of Tarzan until interference from ERB's heirs caused Thomas to decide to leave the series, with Big John departing a bit later (after issue #18). The mag was passed on to authors David Anthony Kraft (12, 15-20) and Bill Mantlo (21-29), with the art chores being awarded to John's younger brother, Sal Buscema (19-29), who continued to produce nothing short of a first-class Tarzan comic. Marvel also produced three excellent Tarzan annuals from 77-79, along with a single-page Tarzan strip in several issues of their monthly kids' mag, Pizazz (yep, there's a post waiting to happen!). Superheroes, though, were edging out just about every other genre at Marvel by the late 1970s, though, so the price of licensing coupled with lower than expected sales signaled the end of the Marvel era of Tarzan with issue #29 (July 1979).


  1. John Buscema is one of my favorite artists! I still have a Tarzan model kit that's based off of one of his drawings.

  2. Marvel did a great job with Tarzan, one of their books i really enjoyed and collected.

  3. I wonder...will DH be putting out the MARVEL the same format as the DC -Kubert's? It would make a completists dream come true.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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