Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan the Magnificent

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

Like some of the other Tarzan novels, Tarzan the Magnificent (no relation to the film of the same name) was actually two different novellas. In this case, they'd even been published in two different magazines. Argosy published "Tarzan and the Magic Men" in 1936, about a couple of Amazon tribes led by powerful sorcerers who control their subjects with huge, supernatural jewels. Griffin speculates that Burroughs got the idea from the novel Trader Horn, which features a woman who uses a large ruby to control an African tribe.

In 1937, Burroughs' sequel to this story appeared in Blue Book, titled "Tarzan and the Elephant Men." It has Tarzan following one of the jewels back to Cathne and Athne, the cities from Tarzan and the City of Gold.

In Magnificent, Burroughs describes Tarzan's eyes as being able to "reflect the light of a summer sea or the flashing steel of a rapier." Griffin takes advantage of this to offer a supplemental chapter on "Eyes of Gray," a character trait that Burroughs gave all of his leading men and a lot of supporting characters as well. Tarzan had gray eyes, as did his father and son. So did La of Opar, John Carter of Mars, David Innes of Pellucidar, and Carson Napier of Venus. Griffin lists a total of 25 Burroughs characters with gray eyes, noting that Burroughs "rarely described any other color." In fact, Carson's started out blue in Pirates of Venus before Burroughs changed them to gray in the third novel.

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