Violet Books

Edgar Rice Burroughs Dustwrapper Gallery


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Edgar Rice Burroughs' Swords of Mars was serialized in sixparts in The Blue Book Magazine from November 1934 to April 1935. Early in 1936 it had its first book publication from Burroughs' own publishing firm in Tarzana, California -- his forty-fifth hardback. J. Allen St. John provided a wraparound dustwrapper painting plus five interior plates. The tale was written while his marriage to his first wife Emma was dissolving, & appeared in book form after his marriage to Florence, hence he arranged the first words of the Preface & also of the 24 chapters to spell out "To Florence with All My Love Ed."

Burroughs' fifth book set on Mars was The Master Mind of Mars initially published in pulp magazine format as Amazing Stories Annual Volume One Number One, July 15, 1927. Early the following year it had its first hardcover, issued by A. C. McClurg, Chicago. The ornately rendered painting is one of J. Allen St. John's finer masterpieces. Captain Ulysses Paxton has numerous adventures on Mars, together with a giant intelligent white ape, including inevitably saving a beautiful queen from the abject horror of being ugly.

Outlaw of Torn was serialized in New Story Magazine January, March, April & May 1914. It did not have a hardcover publication until 1927, from A. C. McClurg & Co., as shown here in its J. Allen St. John dustwrapper. This was the second story ERB ever wrote (discounting juvenilia), Under the Moons of Mars having been the first. Set in Thirteenth Century England & France, Outlaw of Torn was inspired by Sir Walter Scott.

The Monster Men was first published with a different title in The All-Story for November 1913, complete in one issue. It's first book publication was some while later (Chicaggo: McClurg, 1929), shown here in yet another J. Allen St. John dustwrapper, moodier & more horrific than most of his paintings. The story is sort of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein meets Charles Atlas, not one of ERB's more laudable efforts.

Land of Terror (Tarzana: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., 1944) was the fifth book written about the Hollow Earth world of Pellucidar. Though it was composed in 1938 it was rejected by all the usual magazines Burroughs relied on, so remained unpublished for some while until his own company published it. The dustwrapper was by ERB's youngest son, John Coleman Burroughs. In the tale our hero Innes encounters the usual array of prehistoric beasties & unusual lost races.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: A Little Golden Book (Golden Press, 1964) is a short retelling of the original Tarzan legend for the youngest readers, issued in thin pictorial boards. Though left off most Tarzan bibliographies of first editions, this certainly does qualify. The illustrator was Mel Crawford & the tale's redactor was Gina Ingoglia Weiner, whose long-lasting career in writing such books has included such recent titles as Pochontas (1995) & The Lion King (1994) for Disney Press .

For some inexplicable reason, Grosset & Dunlap began replacing the classic St. John Allen dustwrapper illustrations with new artwork -- not bad artwork but not the same level of brilliance Tarzan fans had been used to either. This painting for Tarzan & the Ant Men is by an unknown artist & in 1950 it replaced the St. John portrait of Tarzan running amidst miniature men on miniature horses. One of the more interesting ERBian takes on the Lost World motif, besides the tiny race there is also a tribe of matriarchal missing links, the trod-upon Og-type husbands being taught by Tarzan how to club their wives & overthrow matriarchy. Hey, if we can forgive ERB's racist portraits of black Africans, we can forgive his misogyny too -- & enjoy a fun book.

In 1948, Grosset & Dunlap replaced the superb & long-used St John dustwrapper on The Return of Tarzan with this workmanlike portrait of Tarzan swinging, by C. Edmond Monroe, Jr. This was the second Tarzan book (afterTarzan of the Apes) & the first in which we glimpse the Atlantean city of Opar hidden deep in the Congo. Tarzan, ever the superior Brit despite his capacity for primitivism, feels no qualms about robbing the Oparians blind (& in later books, when ill-got gold is squandered, robs them anew). And we wonder where we got our own morals! We got them from neat old stories.

The original wraparound dustwrapper by Fred J. Arting that was always before identified with Tarzan of the Apes -- a still-famous silhouette of Tarzan sitting in a tree -- was used on this book from 1914 until the end of the1950s. Then inexplicably in 1960 Grosset & Dunlap, for a decade having already been replacing even the extraordinary St. John covers on other titles, replaced the impactful original Tarzan silhouette with this decent but hardly brilliant portrait of Tarzan with spear, by Gerald McCann. This of course is the story that defined Tarzan as an incorruptibly civilized Brit whose racial excellence inevitably causes him to overcome even his feral-child beginnings raised by apes -- a myth at once disturbing for its classism & racism which E. Bleiler tagged "a horrible subtext," yet not less dreamily captivating & innocent in its spirit of fantastic adventure.

D. Edmund Monroe, Jr., commissioned by Grosset & Dunlap to replace several J. Allen St. John dustwrappers, supplanted his superior on Tarzan & the Jewels of Opar in 1950. Some of Monroe's Tarzan portraits migth not have seemed so dreadful if not for the wondrousness of what got replaced, but by now the books were being targeted at increasingly younger readers, & it must have seemed a good commercial gamble to provide "tamer" illustrations up front.

It was in 1949 that C. Edmund Monroe's painting replaced St. John's on Grosset & Dunlap's newest edition of Tarzan & the Golden Lion. Later illustrators like Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, & Roy Krenkel attempted to efface Monroe's work from their memories & recapture the glory-days of Tarzan illustration, though Boris's & Frank's deviant fetish for extravantly fat butts on naked women often made them seem like parodies of St. John & ultimately never his equal. But big rear ends must sell as Roy Krenkel, who only occasionally resorted to huge bums, was the best but least known of that later trio.

And for a final example in this gallery room, Monroe's replacement for St. Allen's dustwrapper on Tarzan the Terrible was imposed by Grosset & Dunlap in 1949. It's a pretty dramatic rendering of Tarzan fighting the prehensile tailed race, but to see the genius that this fairly good artist was competing against, see the original cover on this & some of the other Tarzan titles in the St. John Allen Dustwrapper Gallery.

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