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Wild Stars page art, shown above without text, are copyright 2001-2015 by Michael Tierney.
WILD STARS is a Registered Trademark of Michael Tierney.

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Characature by Jeff Huddleston 2015

Tarzan's British Heritage

by Michael Tierney


This article examines Tarzan's foreign language editions -- in English.


Tarzan of the Isle

Tarzan First Edition A. C. McClurg set
It was appropriate that Edgar Rice Burroughs gave his apeman the birthright of an English Lord, not simply because of how well this connected to the colonial era of his origin, but because of Burroughs utilization of spelling that today would be considered the King's English, with extra U's in words like 'colour' and such. A.C. McClurg published the first Tarzan novels in America, while Methuen filled the market niche of cheap reprints for the British market, a market that A.L. Burt and Grosset & Dunlap filled in the States, only the Methuen books were much cheaper in format. In contrast, where American publishers would reuse the same covers over and over, the British were lavish when it came to changing the cover art on subsequent editions.
Tarzan 2nd Edition Methuen

Newnes Logo In 1929, British publisher George Newnes, Limited, of London, pioneered the packaging of Burroughs' novels into paperback form, with artist Wooley providing covers for Tarzan of the Apes and The Son of Tarzan, and A. Gelli the Return of Tarzan cover. In actuality, these paper bound books were closer to the pulps of the day than the paperbacks of today, being oversized in format and with two columns of tiny type per page. Printed by Morrison & Gibb Ltd of London and Edinburgh, they are very scarce in England and extremely rare in the States. This trinity is the holy grail of Burroughs paperback book collections.
Newnes Edition Newnes Edition Newnes Edition

Ransome Logo In the very early Thirties, publisher C.A. Ransom & Co. of London, released a second, equally rare set of the same titles, with new covers done by Wooley. But this was the only difference. Printing was once again done by Morrison & Gibb, with an identical format of 5.5" x 8.2" and the same pulp-style, double columns of text. In fact, they are the exact same blocks of text. This was the age of letterpress printing (stamping a sheet of paper against a reversed image) and lead type, where each page had to be set one lead letter at a time, then blocked with wood, hence the phrase: a block of text. Unlike when Gutenberg printed the first bible, this printer saved their typeset plates for future editions, even as the name of the publisher changed. Just like the Newnes editions, this is a rare set.
Ransom Edition Ransom Edition Ransom Edition

Tarzan Forbidden City Bantam Editions The Forties was the decade when paperbacks really emerged as a viable form of packaging. Considered to be the first Burroughs paperback in America, in 1940 LA Bantam Books released Tarzan and the Forbidden City as the 23rd edition of their small 'pocket books.' These tiny books were dispensed through vending machines. Bantam released three editions, the first two with plain text covers and the third with an illustrated cover.

Tarzan at the Earths Core Methuen In 1941, Metheun released Tarzan at the Earth's Core as the 22nd paperback in their Sixpennies series, using a single block of text per page and a format identical to that of modern day paperbacks.

Tarzan of the Apes Armed Services Edition Return of Tarzan Armed Services EditionTarzan of the Apes became battlefront reading during World War II when an Armed Services edition was made in the United States, but was not intended for domestic readers. Like the Newnes and Ransom editions, the text was formatted in the pulp standard of double columns. Created for overseas distribution, copies of #M-16 in this series were shipped to England prior to D-Day. The Return of Tarzan sequel, featuring a Methuen cover, was #0-22, a number which bore an odd coincidence with the blimp that a decade earlier had explored with Tarzan at the Earth's Core and bore the designation of 0-220. Like the Bantam editions, these were small 'pocket books.'

Tarzan Foreign Legion British 1st Edition In 1949, British publisher Mark Goulden Ltd. of Essex began publishing Burroughs' work in paperback form, this time in a smaller format than the Ransom and Newnes editions, but larger than the Methuen Sixpennies. Distribution was by W. H. Allen, who would later take over as publisher, and later still become an imprint of Pinnacle Books. The First Editions of the W. H. Allen series were considered 'rationing editions,' because of the strict control over paper materials still in effect following WWII. W. H. Allen also also made a British First Edition hardcover of one title, Tarzan and the Foreign Legion, which went through several small printings.

The dimensions of the paperbacks would continue to change with the each successive publisher. The Newnes/Ransom editions had been the largest format, shrinking in size for the Methuen's Sixpennies, growing again with the Goulden, shrinking again with the W. H. Allen editions, and finally morphing one last time with the Pinnacle editions into the paperback dimensions pioneered by the Methuen's Sixpennies and still used today.
Tarzan and the Lost Empire Tarzan and the Lost Empire Tarzan and the Lost Empire Tarzan and the Lost Empire

The first Goulden releases were Tarzan and the Lost Empire and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, both featuring black and white covers. Later printings featured color covers and reset interior text, resulting in different page counts. While all of the earlier Newnes editions featured original cover artwork, most of the W. H. Allen 'rationing editions' featured artwork inspired by the First Edition hardcovers of each title, sometimes nearly identical and sometimes 'tweaked.' Some of the variations of these paperback covers even borrowed from unrelated Burroughs titles and adjusted the art to fit. One example is the Return of Tarzan, which borrowed from the cover of the Pellucidar tale, Land of Terror.
Tarzan W H Allen set

The later Pinnacle Book editions featured original covers. Some of these were very well done, and some bizarre, like The Eternal Lover, which showed what might be a dragon or dinosaur. Either way it was mythical. But there was still 'tweaking' of previous artwork on some titles, like Lost On Venus, which was a rework of an interior page art by J. Allen St. John for Tarzan Untamed.

The Newnes, Ransom and Goulden editions had no numbering. But the W. H. Allen books introduced numbering and lists, which Pinnacle continued on their spines, but without lists.
Tarzan Pinnacle set

Tarzan W H Allen list The W. H. Allen lists on the back covers probably created a fair amount of reader confusion. Looking at the back covers of the W. H. Allen First Editions, any reader trying discern proper reading order was out of luck. Tarzan and the Lost Empire is listed as volume 1, and the origin story of Tarzan of the Apes, is listed as volume 15. The direct sequel of Return of Tarzan, where Tarzan wins the love of Jane, is listed as volume 19. Preceding that is volume 18 with The Beasts of Tarzan, where Tarzan and Jane have a family. The lists also include non-Tarzan novels, like A Princess of Mars as volume 6, and Carson of Venus as volume 9. Obviously this was simply the order of publication, and readers were on their own figuring out the continuity.
Tarzan Four Square set

The Pinnacle format would be duplicated in the Sixties by Four Square Books, whose cover changes for later printings mostly involved rearranging the art and type.
Tarzan Four Square second edition set

In 1967, Green Dragon released an edited series for young readers, along with a set of the earliest John Carter of Mars novels. The interesting thing about this Tarzan set was how they split Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar into two books.
Tarzan Green Dragon set

In the Seventies New American Library took over, who provided all new artwork for their later printings. After that, public domain threw the door open to new editions from a variety of publishers.
Tarzan New American Library set

Cave Girl Dell Mapback edition Tarzan and the Lost Empire Dell Mapback edition Meanwhile in America, Dell Books, publisher of Tarzan comics as Dell Comics, joined the Burroughs paperback revolution in 1949 with a 'mapback' edition of Cave Girl. But it was 1951 before Dell did Tarzan and the Lost Empire, also with a map on the back cover. While Dell Comics would continue to publish Tarzan comics for years, this would be their last Burroughs book. But, like with Goulden in Britain, while The Lost Empire would still lead to many more Tarzan paperbacks in the US, the parade of publishers would be far shorter. Dell Books was followed by Ace Books, until Ballantine Books later won Tarzan's domestic rights.

tarzan large feature 5 You can find out more about those details here.

A lesser known history is that of the Tarzan comics made in England.


Tarzan of the Four Color Covers

The Tarzan novels would, and still do, inspire many movie and television productions. But the media format where he really stood the test of time has been in the comic book format.

Tarzan sharkfighter
When it comes to the comics market, Tarzan precedes Superman and Batman as a literary presence. Take all the American Tarzan comics published by so many different publishers across so many decades, and add with that all the many Tarzan comics in different languages worldwide, and he is, without argument, one of the most widely published comic book action heroes in history.

Tarzan sharkfighter
(This must be an extra-bad ape
on the cover for this 1951 first issue of
Dependable Publications' second volume.
Tarzan is renowned for fighting with his
father's hunting knife. To take a
spare into battle is unheard of.
Here he's carrying two spares!)

As many Tarzan comic books as were made in America, there were even more published in Britain. In the 1950s alone, 425 Tarzan comics were published in the UK, most of them featuring rewritten versions of the American daily comic strips, with art by Hogarth, Foster, Maxon, Lubbers, Celardo and others.

The British comics' contribution to the Burroughsian canon also marks the first time that the font from the newspaper Tarzan logo was used as a book cover logo. Despite the vast array of different Tarzan logos created over the last century, throughout the decades since, this logo has become the most iconic.

In the beginning, two publishers were making Tarzan comics at the same time, each producing two volumes in different formats.
Dependable Publications' Tarzan
Dependable Publications/Donald F. Peters Ltd. was a typical comic book format, using mastheads simply marked as Tarzan Comics. These monthly comics featured Brune Hogarth strip art on both the inside and covers, continuing through the 8th issue of Vol. 2. The four issues of Volume One were thick with content, in a 68 page format much like an American comic from the Golden Age. The contents of the 36 page Volume Two steadily thinned until the final issue #15, with Hogarth material returning for the last two issues. (Volume 1 #3 & 4, and V2 #1, 2, 4, 6-14 shown above.)

Tarzan Grand Adventure Tarzan Grand Adventure

Tarzan Grand Adventure - foreign editions At the same time, Westworld Publications, Ltd. of London, was publishing a series in a weekly Sunday Funnies insert. With the title Tarzan, the Grand Adventure Comic, the numbering also started with a Vol. 1, which had 26 issues. Volume Two had 36 issues. It should be noted that Vol. 1 #2 was incorrectly labeled as Vol. 2 #2 (shown above in the first picture of Volume 1 issues 1-3, second picture has random other Volume One and Volume 2 #1 and other random issues), but is easily identifiable because the size of the Volume 1 issues were much larger (15" x 11 & 1/2") than Volume 2 (12 & 1/4" x 8 & 3/4"). There are two known comic albums containing 7 issues in each. These newspaper inserts were also produced in multiple languages worldwide (as seen to the right, album in center).
Tarzan Adventures #1 Tarzan Adventures #1 Tarzan Adventures #1
Tarzan Adventures #1 Tarzan Adventures #1 Tarzan Adventures #1 Tarzan Adventures #1
Then the two companies merged. Westworld Publications combined the packaging of the monthly comics with the weekly schedule of the Grand Adventure inserts and created Tarzan Adventures. Starting with Volume 3 #1 (shown above, along with V4 through V9 #1 issues), there would be 52 issues for each volume until the Ninth Volume, which ended the series with #32. Throughout the contents were made up of daily and weekly American newspaper strips, along with other Sci-Fi and Western filler that was original, but forgettable content.

With the British printing plates from the original Tarzan comic strip having been destroyed in WWII by Nazi bombs, as a teenager Michael Moorcock started his literary career translating the dialog from Spanish plates. He would later contribute text stories and for a time late in the run became editor. Moorcock would go on to establish his own, original pantheon of science-fiction heroes who, like Burroughs's creations, would also be adapted into film and comics.

The covers of the Tarzan Adventure weeklies are what made them unique, with the issues of the earlier volumes following a pattern developed in America by Dell Comics, where a photographer would take a number of different shots during a shooting session, resulting in many similar covers from different angles of view. There were a number of Johnny Weissmuller and Gordon Scott covers, but the majority were dedicated to Lex Barker.
Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures
Many of the early covers featured scenes from the black and white Tarzan Movies shown in color for the first time. Often new backgrounds were painted in, some showing considerable artistic embellishment, while others left you wondering what they were thinking (see lower right hand column).
Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures
Later Volumes then switched to original art covers. Volume 4 #38 (shown upper left) was the first of the all-art covers. It was also the only holiday-themed cover. Robinson Studios would produce some very impressive covers (shown above center). After their run, some of the work that followed was almost amateurish (and not shown here).
Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures Tarzan Adventures
The series returned to the Hogarth material previously run by Dependable Publications and created a new logo, but did not last long afterwards. Tarzan Adventures was cancelled after six and-a-half years and 344 issues.

TV Tornado Annual #1 Tarzan TV Tornado set Despite his long run in the Fifties, Tarzan faded from British mainstream comics in the Sixties, reduced to a backup feature in weekly magazines like TV Tornado and TV Comics, which continued into the early Seventies. TV Tornado itself ran from 1967 to 1968, before merging with TV Century 21, which itself was later rebooted to #1 and retitled as TV 21 and Joe 90. The interesting thing about TV Tornado is that they were the first original Tarzan stories made for the British market. TV Tornado did continue as four unnumbered hardcover annuals, also featuring original Tarzan stories. TV21 Annual 1971

Tarzan's only name title during this period was a long-running series of Tarzan Annuals started in 1960 by World Distributors and continued sporadically until 1980 by Brown Watson.
Tarzan Annual set
Released from 1960 through 1980 (skipping 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1979), the Annual's content was initially old material from the 50s Westworld UK comics and the US Gold Key comics, later mixed with new. The annual collection also included a 1974 Russ Manning original of Tarzan: The Land That Time Forgot (shown above lower right - reprinted in the US by Dark Horse), two Tarzan Comic Albums in 1964 and 1967 (both marked as #1), four Tarzan Television Storybooks running from 1967 to 1970, and a Tarzan Bumper Album, also in 1970.
Tarzan TV Picture Storybook set Tarzan Story Book Album 1970

In 1970 the apeman began actively swinging across the British comics scene once again, courtesy of Williams Publishing.
Tarzan comics Williams Publishing
This new batch, being marketed in multiple languages (see upper right column for more details). contained many Dell and Gold Key reprints, along with liberal swipes of Russ Manning art mixed with new material. Of special note is issue #21 which features Mannings first Tarzan art from Dell #63, and issue #22 which reprints 'Descent into the Past,' the story that started Manning's run as the regular Tarzan artist for Gold Key. Later issues in the series were all original material. (Random issues are shown above and below)
Tarzan comics Williams Publishing Tarzan comics Williams Publishing
Tarzan comics Williams Publishing
Starting with a monthly schedule, with #8 Williams Publishing switched to a fortnightly schedule until issue #62, when they returned to a monthly format. Their back covers often reprinted two particular Gold Key covers, along with alternating interior art as advertisements for upcoming issues.

Tarzan Giant There were also a number of Digests and Bumper Editions done during this time. Of special note was their 144 page Tarzan Giant book (shown right) released in 1971, featuring an historical perspective along with a heavy dose of Russ Manning reprints in both color and black & white.

Korak special In 1973 Williams Publishing also released Korak, Son of Tarzan #1 in a Bumper Edition.

In June of 1977, Tarzan was back in a weekly comic from the Finish publisher, Byblos. These magazine-sized books featured new material by the Manning studios that have never been seen in America. Despite many foreign editions, these 20 issues remain the only English language editions of these Russ Manning strips.

Tarzan Byblos weekly
When the weekly Tarzan series ended in October 1977, it was immediately followed by 5 monthly comics featuring stories by Mark Evanier and more art from the Russ Manning studio.
Tarzan Byblos monthly
Tarzan Summer Special 1978 Byblos next made eleven unnumbered Tarzan Specials, with the Tarzan Spring Special in 1978 &1980, the Tarzan Summer Special from 1978 through 1981, the Tarzan Winter Special '79-81, and the Tarzan Autumn Special '79-80. All of these were 52 pages except the 1978 Summer and Spring Specials which consisted of 68 pages. The '78 Spring Special (shown right) contained mostly Manning reprints from the US, and was the only Special with Manning art.
Tarzan Byblos special Tarzan Blybos Summer Special 1979 Tarzan Byblos special Tarzan Blybos Spring Special 1980
Tarzan Blybos Summer Special 1980 Tarzan Blybos Autumn Special 1980 Tarzan Blybos Summer Special 1981 Tarzan Blybos Spring Special 1982

Byblos also released a trio of Korak, Son of Tarzan seasonal Specials in 1980 and '81.
Son of Tarzan Specials set
In March of 1981 Byblos launched their final Tarzan run, with six monthly issues. With no credits, listed I can't say for certain who the artists were, but their style is exactly like a group of Filipino artists who had done extensive work for Marvel and DC Comics in the Seventies. It's interesting to see an exodus of comics artists taking their talents across the 'pond' occurring at the same time American comic publishers were beginning to poach the writers of the British comics.
Son of Tarzan Specials set
Despite the late start and limited original material, all in all, the British still produced far more Tarzan comic books than were ever American-made.

Michael Tierney -- May 11, 2015




A Princess of Mars 1st edition HC Funnies #36
If you enjoy the high adventure of Tarzan, and stories that include travel to exotic locations, then you'll probably enjoy the Wild Stars!
Click here to learn more about the Wild Stars History.

Up next in the tour of Comics History:

We take a visit to another character of Edgar Rice Burroughs who is also known for carrying a blade, only instead of a knife, this guy carries a sword: John Carter of Mars!





Just announced on April 18, 2017:

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Tarzan is a Registered Trademark of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc.

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Other Foreign Languages -- not English:

Conan's adventures in Mexico Conan's adventures in Mexico

Much as the first Conan comics were published in Mexico during the 1950s and 60s, Tarzan would be published in different languages worldwide. Fortunately, unlike the Mexican Conan, he was not turned into a blonde.

Conan's adventures in Mexico Conan's adventures in Mexico
(However, to Belit, Robert E. Howard's Queen of the Black Coast, the comic creators remained true. Conan's firey lover needed little translation for this Conquistator-helmeted characterisation.)

Conan's adventures in Mexico Conan's adventures in Mexico

In the 1970s, Burroughs Inc. launched a series of Tarzan comics created specifically for international markets, as is evidenced by this Mexican issue #223 file copy from the Random House Archives, compared next to the British translation of the same book by Williams Publishing (thier issue #4).

Tarzan Mexican edition Tarzan British edition


These original stories borrowed heavily from the art of Gold Key comics. There is a Manning Studios look about the earlier issues, with many images being exact swipes of panels from the Gold Key comics, while others are cut and pasted with new, addtional art (#321 shown below).

Mexican Tazan #321


The 1968 French Tarzan comics shown below were all Gold Key/Russ Manning reprints, with color pages mixed with black & white.

French Tarzan French Tarzan


However, the French Giant #1 from 1969 shown below only had a few Manning pages mixed with new material, including non-Tarzan features like Mission Impossible.

French Tarzan

Despite the iconic Gold Key cover, the 1973 French Super Tarzan #1 shown below was all Hogarth newspaper reprints.

French Super Tarzan #1


However, these magazine-sized Italian Tarzan comics were all original material.

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic


One thing about the many different foreign editions are the colorful covers.

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic


You might not have a clue what the story is ...

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic


... but the pictures are fun to look at.

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic


Running from the early 1960s and into the 70s, this series remained unchanged in format.

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic


Issues #1 through 12 are shown above. Numbers 13, 16, 17, 18, 22, 54, 54, 56, 57, and 58 shown below.

Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic
Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic
Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic
Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic
Italian Tarzan comic Italian Tarzan comic



Even when the language is English, something still gets lost in translation. I've discussed in the main section about how the early covers of the Tarzan Adventures featured photos that were artistically enhanced.
Tarzan Adventures
Sometimes they didn't quite get things right. Check out the detail for Volume 4 #31. Look at the size of this guy's head! Even if his dive is perfect, he'll still have to call 'cannonball!' No Olympics Gold for him.
Tarzan Adventures

And there seemed to be a theme with Tarzan's movie co-star, Cheetah.
Tarzan Adventures
Tarzan Adventures

Or if not a theme, you still had to wonder what exactly they were trying to imply about Tarzan's relationship with his chimpanzee companion?
Tarzan Adventures
Tarzan Adventures
Tarzan Adventures
Tarzan Adventures

Tarzan actor Gordon Scott certainly has an embarrassed expression while holding two baby chimpanzees with BLUE EYES!
Tarzan Adventures

I'll close this sidebar the way it started, with an off reference to Conan the Barbarian.

I've wondered if artist Barry Windsor Smith, who was growing up in Britain when this Vol. 6 #3 issue of Tarzan Adventures was published ...
Tarzan Adventures

... might have been channeling Tarzan's influence when he illustrated this final panel for Conan the Barbarian #4?
Conan the Barbarian #4 detail

The more you look at artwork -- the more there always is to see!

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