Monday, September 19, 2016


A quick survey of Tarzan's appearances on pulp covers over the year reveals great uncertainty about the ape man's hair. Comic strips by Hal Foster, Burne Hogarth and their successors have done more than anything else to solidify the image of a black-haired Tarzan in many minds, but pulp artists like Argosy's Hubert Rogers often envisioned a lighter-haired jungle lord. This 1936 cover shows that the pulps hadn't yet caught up with the fashion set by Johnny Weissmuller in talking pictures. Before Metro Goldwyn Mayer put Weissmuller in a loincloth in a clear Pre-Code invitation to the female gaze, illustrators and filmmakers commonly clad Lord Greystoke in the sort of one-shoulder singlet you see here, some adding a fur headband to the ensemble. By the next time Argosy published a Tarzan serial, in 1938, he is finally in a loincloth. This seems to me a change for the better, as Tarzan now no longer looked like a caveman (especially with the club he sports here) or circus strongman. At this time Edgar Rice Burroughs was bouncing Tarzan back and forth between Argosy and Blue Book, with an exceptional sojurn in Liberty being the nearest the ape man came to the slicks. The other features this issue are Donald Barr Chidsey's novelette "Spanish for Goat," another novelette by William Chamberlain, short stories by Theodore Roscoe and W. C. Tuttle, and serials by L. G. Blochman and George Bruce, as well as a Stookie Allen "Men of Daring" strip about Wyatt Earp -- a hero nearly as fantastical in some renderings as Tarzan himself.

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