Thursday, October 03, 2013

Tarzan 101 | Fan Conventions

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

About half of Griffin's chapter on Tarzan conventions is a lengthy quote from Tarzan of the Apes in which Burroughs describes the Dum-Dum ceremony held by the apes to mark important events. The other half though is full of great information about the real-world legacy of that celebration.

The Burroughs Bibliophiles started their version of the Dum Dum to coincide with the annual World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon). It was at the 18th WorldCon in 1960 that the Bibliophiles held their first meeting and they continued meeting that way for the next 24 years, only meeting at other conventions when WorldCon was held outside the United States.

When Bibliophiles founder Vern Coriell's health became too poor to allow him to continue leading the club in 1984, the Bibliophiles and the Dum Dum went on hiatus, but Burroughs fans didn't give up meeting. British fan (and pen pal of Burroughs) Frank Shonfeld started the Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship, originally a network of letter-writers, and ECOF held its first, formal meeting in Toronto in August 1984.

Though ECOF continues meeting to this day (this year's was in May in Morris, Illinois), when George McWhorter restarted the Burroughs Bibliophiles he also reinstituted the annual Dum Dum, though as a separate event from WorldCon. ERBzine has a wonderful timeline of meeting dates and locations that even includes some short anecdotes from various gatherings. This year's Dum Dum was held in Louisville, Kentucky on August 8-11.

One of the major activities at the Dum Dum each year is bestowing awards. The Golden Lion Award is commonly given to professional creators and actors who've contributed in some way to Burroughs' legacy. The Edgar Rice Burroughs Achievement Award is given to prominent fans for their efforts in keeping alive the author's memory. The Dum Dum has also honored significant contributors to Burroughsdom like Hal Foster, Frank Frazetta, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Harlan Ellison, and Philip Jose Farmer.

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