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Volume 2159
A Selection of Book Forewords 
by Danton Burroughs
the Grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs

by Danton Burroughs

To most people pulp art is something they either bought from the news-stands when they were kids or else discovered when they were older and began to collect the exciting old magazines themselves. For me it was different. Because my grandfather was Edgar Rice Burroughs, and my father illustrated many books, that was the kind of artwork I commonly saw around the house. It just seemed natural to me. Whereas other homes might have paintings of sunsets or scenes of bucolic rural life, I saw framed paintings of Tarzan of the Apes.

One of the most striking of these is the cover to Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. This colorful painting from 1918 by J. Allen St. John shows a knife-wielding Tarzan in a life-and-death battle with a huge black-maned lion. In the distance La of Opar watches from the altar where someone is about to be sacrificed. The subdued yellow of the background sets off the powerful majestic golden color of the lion. Is it any wonder that St. John was my grandfather's favorite cover artist? It was a long time before I came to realize that having a St. John original hanging in your home, much less any painting of a man wrestling a lion wasn't commonplace. But I grew to appreciate this painting's finer qualities over the years until I could see the artistry beyond the powerful (and long familiar) image. And it was familiar: though my grandfather died when I was about six, I still remember going to his house and watching 16mm Tarzan movies. Then as I grew older I realized just what treasures our family possessed because what others bought, read, and enjoyed was part of my family legacy. It was my grandfather's imagination that produced the stories that enabled St. John to create these unforgettable images that have excited people for decades. St. John moved easily between the covers of pulp magazines and the covers of my grandfather's books and he put just as much imagination and artistry into one of the other.

Another Tarzan painting I grew up with isn't as dramatic as the St. John but is by an artist even more famous -- N. C. Wyeth, who would go on to become acknowledged as one of the great American illustrators of the twentieth century. His only Tarzan paintings were based on a single book, The Return of Tarzan, but that's certainly a significant title. The painting we have is the one that served as the cover illustration on the original New Story pulp magazine serialization of the tale, as well as on the first-edition hardcover book. Wyeth was a different sort of painter than St. John, although both made an interesting use of light in their color paintings. In this one, which is an outdoor scene, it's clear that the sun is at Tarzan's back, as the front of him is in shadow. You can look closely at the painting and see the brushstrokes and how the leaves were delicately formed, and the way the foliage in the back isn't as precisely rendered in order to create the felling of distance. So the first thing your eye is drawn to is the image of Tarzan in a lion-skin loincloth high in the branches of a tree. The sky at the top is rather blank because that was where the pulp magazine's name was (and later where the book title went). The more you look at this deceptively simple canvas the more you see the interesting little things it has. The tree, for instance: the branch that stretches from left to right across the image has a skeletal quality; the branches are denuded of all semblance of life, and it gives them the look of bony fingers. 

New Story - June 1913 - The Return of Tarzan 1/7This Wyeth painting has an interesting , and partly apocryphal, history. In 1913 my grandfather attempted to buy one of the two Wyeth paintings done for New Story. The one he wanted would only be sold by Wyeth for a hundred dollars, a princely sum for anything in 1913. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote back to A. L. Sessions, the editor of New Story, and in a letter dated June 14, 1913, Burroughs stated, "I want to thank you for the trouble you have taken relative to the cover design by Mr. Wyeth. I am afraid, however, that Mr. Wyeth wants it worse than I do, so I shall be generous and let him keep it." Many years later, in 1965, Hulbert Burroughs learned of a Wyeth Tarzan painting that still existed; he purchased it for fifteen hundred dollars, believing that it was the same one his father had been unable to afford in 1913. In fact, the one my grandfather sought in 1913 has apparently been lost to the ages. Oddly enough it wasn't even as interesting a painting as the one we have; the picture Edgar Rice Burroughs sought to purchase shows two men in ordinary desert garb riding horses (presumably one of those men is Tarzan). The painting Hulbert bought is actually more significant, because it shows Tarzan in his traditional setting.

But we had more than Tarzan on view. Another St. John painting I grew up with was the strange and disturbing painting that appeared on the dust jacket of The Moon Maid in 1926. This is the painting of the title character in a red dress, riding on the back of the ugliest centaur you've ever seen. They're called Va-Gas. Other people had paintings of horses in their home. We had a Va-Gas whose head looked like a demon. What's also strange about this painting is that St. John rendered the Va-Gas in mid leap so that none of its feet are touching the ground.

Some parents try to shield their kids from weird or disturbing images, but if those are the kinds of things you grow up with, then you don't think of them as weird or disturbing. To me the weird was commonplace, and it was also fun. There was certainly nothing threatening about it, and I was able to grow up with an appreciation of what my grandfather and my father did. My grandfather was a writer and my father was an artist. I was constantly surrounded with examples of popular fiction and imaginative commercial art. It certainly gave me a broader view of what life offered a person, both in the arts and in entertainment. 

Danton Burroughs
Danton Burroughs is the grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He is director of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and governs the worldwide commercial activities that utilize Tarzan and other ERB franchises. He is perhaps the most knowledgeable scholar, conservator, and collector in this field of popular culture.

Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Romantic Mystery:
An Introduction
Danton Burroughs

I'm certain that my grandfather, Edgar Rice Burroughs, never dreamed that when he penned TARZAN OF THE APES he would be, forever after, doomed to write sequel after sequel about the exploits of the immortal apeman. His editors, both magazine and book, continually clamored for Tarzan stories -- as did his fans.  By the time he had written THE SON OF TARZAN, Ed was convinced that he had written everything he had to say about Tarzan. Little did he realize that he would write twenty-two more stories about the Lord of the Jungle.
Fred J. Arting McClurg: Tarzan of the Apes - title page silhouetteJ. Allen St. John: Son of Tarzan - wrap-around DJ - many b/w line interiors
Ed desired to write other kinds of stories: tales of romance and mystery. He did not wish to be categorized as merely "that guy who wrote Tarzan." But every time he attempted to write something else besides Tarzan of the Apes; John Carter of Mars; David Innes of Pellucidar; or Carson of Venus; his editors complained that they wanted another Tarzan story. Sometimes the only way that he could sell something else was to promise the editors another story about the inimitable Tarzan.

My grandfather loved to read mystery stories, especially in his later years, and read them one after the other during the times he could relax from his duties as the world's oldest war correspondent in the South Pacific during World War II.

Ed's first foray into romance and mystery was a novelette, THE GIRL FROM FARRIS'S. Written in 1914 and still considered new to the writing game, it is doubtful that Ed's editor would have complained too much about this story, especially when he knew that he was working on new Tarzan and Mars stories. Being his first try with a new genre it was Ed who expressed doubts about the story -- fearing that it might be too "smutty" for the readers of The All-Story Cavalier.

All-Story Weekly - September 23, 1916 - The Girl from Farris's 1/4Frank Frazetta: Girl from Farris's - FP same as cover - contains collection of related artFrank Frazetta: Efficiency Expert - FP same as DJ - 4 b/w interiors by Roger B. Morrison from pulpsArgosy All-Story - October 8, 1921 - The Efficiency Expert 1/4
It would be another five years before Ed tried his hand at yet another romantic mystery, THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT, written in 1919. Beginning with this story, and including his future romantic mysteries, Ed began to imbue his characters with autobiographical characteristics.

P. J. Monahan: Girl from Hollywood - FP same as DJIn 1921 Ed wrote what has previously been considered his best romantic mystery, THE GIRL FROM HOLLYWOOD. It was full of bits of autobiography and the Penningtons are only thinly disguised and easily recognizable as the Burroughs family itself. White the critics were not particularly kind in their reviews, the story is, nevertheless, well written and an entertaining read.

Ed's next romantic mystery was MARCIA OF THE DOORSTEP, the book you hold in your hands. Written in 1924 and the longest novel my grandfather ever wrote, at 125,000 words, it has remained unpublished until now. This was to be Ed's last rebellious protest against the constant demand for Tarzan or other fantasy stories that he felt he was being forced to write. He would occasionally write in other genres after that, but mostly short stories, and the occasional novelette which he was unable to sell.

The story is full of Ed's own ideas and ideals, providing with a forum for his political and social beliefs. Lie all of his other stories it, too, is full of coincidences and melodrama. Once again Ed instills autobiographical characteristics in his characters. Marcus Aurelius Sackett is most assuredly based on my grandmother, Emma, who always endured Ed's erratic fortunes with grace. Marcia's sweet disposition must certainly be based on my Aunt Joan, who at one time wanted to be an actress.

Cover art by Ned DameronSubmitted several times during his lifetime, it wasn't until seventy-five years after it was written, in 1999, that Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. has at last made this long novel available to my grandfather's fans throughout the world. No longer can THE GIRL FROM HOLLYWOOD be considered Ed's best romantic mystery, for MARCIA OF THE DOORSTEP, must certainly rate alongside it as another terrific tale of the stage and Hollywood, in which love finally conquers all barriers.

We are presenting MARCIA OF THE DOORSTEP here just as Ed wrote it in 1924. We have maintained his original style of punctuation even though the modern reader might be more used to a simpler more direct style of sentence construction. LIkewise we have maintained some racial references as they are used by villains and further show their negative qualities, or by characters referring to themselves or their kind in a manner common throughout most of this century. I trust that none of you will be offended by our maintaining of this authenticity.

Danton Burroughs
August 1999

Ed, Joan, and the Play: An Introduction
Danton Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs, my grandfather, was not new to the play or script format. From the time he first began writing he was intrigued by film and wrote several treatments for the silent screen. But it wasn't until after his daughter and my aunt, Joan, was born that he began to look on the play format with a more personal eye.

Joan was born on January 12, 1908. By the time she reached high school age she was determined to make a career as a stage actress. In 1923, at the age of fifteen, she was enrolled in the Cumnock School of Expression in 1926 at the age of eighteen. She played the lead in her graduating play, "Enter Madame."

In 1927 Joan joined a stock company at the Weber Little Theatre in Ogden, Utah where she played a part in "The Whole Town's Talking." Things didn't work out and before the year was out she returned to California, where she joined the Menard Players of Glendale. During her stage career she played various roles in dramatic stock, road shows, and light opera including "The First Year", "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "The Patsy", "Buddies", "Seventh Heaven", Laugh That Off", and "The Student Prince."

Ed began to write his first play on April 6, 1927, the year after Joan graduated from the Marta Oatman School. First titled "Mary Who?", Ed retitled it twice while writing it, "Why Razz the Kids" and "Holy Bonds of Wedlock."

It is unsure if he was writing it for Joan, since no notes or correspondence exist to corroborate such speculation; although that must surely have been his reason for writing it. At twenty-nine pages, Ed left it unfinished, possibly because Joan had left to act in Utah. His short synopsis reads: "Youth has a right to question the moral mandates of its parents, when by the pandering to the follies of the age, weak parents lay themselves open to question." An opinion that would seem to be valid in any age. 

There is no doubt that his next play "You Lucky Girl!", written in 1927, was written expressly for Joan as an aid to her theatrical career. Ed gave Joan a copy on which he had written a short note: "This is the first copy of the longhand ms. It has not been corrected or revised and is rather rough. Please explain this to Mr. Gould when you hand it to him." Dr. Gould was probably the director of the theatrical company which Joan belonged to at the time. Although Ed would correct and revise the play, it was never performed by Joan or anyone else at the time, probably due to the fact that Joan would soon become engaged to James Pierce and married in 1928. Four years later Joan and her husband would portray Tarzan and Jane on the radio. 

It is interesting to note that "You Lucky Girl!", in theme and subject, was years before its time and must surely reveal that Ed had a most modern attitude towards women. In the play he ridicules the accepted part of women in the marriage bond: subservience to her husband, belonging at home, a bearer of children as her major role, an extension of her husband, but remaining in the background. The idea of a woman's independence and individuality are portrayed through the conflicts endured by the female leads and how they resolve their relationships with the men in their lives. The play is surprisingly modern considering the time that it was written. It should also give further argument against oft prevailing attitude that Ed's heroines merely exist to be rescued by his heroes.

I was extremely pleased when Hugh Munro Neely approached me with the idea of The Palmdale Playhouse, of the Antelope Valley Community Arts Center, Palmdale, California producing the play. I enthusiastically gave my permission and on April 25th through May 4th, 1997 "You Lucky Girl!" was performed on stage for the first time; and to appreciative audiences.

Ed wrote two more plays that, although complete, were never performed: "TARZAN & JANE: a jungleogue", sixteen pages based on the scenes from "Tarzan of the Apes" and written in 1933; and "Tarzan's Good Deed Today", a three-page play for children, written in the 1940s. Both are humorous.

I feel that "You Lucky Girl!" is an important addition to the published works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and I hope everyone who purchases this book will find pleasure in reading his only serious, complete play.

Danton Burroughs
August 1999


From TARZAN, MY FATHER by Johnny Weissmuller, Jr.

My grandfather was Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who created Tarzan. He came to writing late in life, beginning that career when he was thirty-five. He had been restless in the other professions he'd tried, be it railway policeman in Idaho or member of the Seventh Cavalry chasing Apaches in the last years of the wild, wild west of the 1800s. Finally he tried writing and his third novel was Tarzan of the Apes. That was in 1912. But for me, the first Tarzan wasn't what my grandfather wrote, because before I could even read I'd seen Tarzan come to life on the movie screen. As a small child in the l940s (my grandfather died in 1950) the family would gather at his home on weekends where he'd screen 16mm Tarzan movies, and that's where I first saw Johnny Weissmuller. It was only later that I came to understand that Tarzan had been played by other actors. But as a small child, all I knew was that Johnny Weissmuller was Tarzan. There was something about him. Even when he was at his less robust in the 1940s, he still had a screen presence that commanded your attention. He made us believe in Tarzan.

Looking back now, at both the films and the memorabilia, I can see that in the earliest of his motion pictures, Tarzan the Ape Man and Tarzan and His Mate, Weissmuller was at his peak. Fresh from his Olympic victories, both he and Maureen O'Sullivan radiated youth, strength, power and ... dare I say it ... even beauty. I have a Coca Cola tray from the early 1930s which features Johnny and Maureen from Tarzan and His Mate and it's a toss-up as to which is the most attractive because they're both stunning examples of the Hollywood glorification of youth. Leonardo Dicaprio at 22 has nothing on Johnny Weissmuller when he was 28 or 30. Dicaprio should pray that he looks as good at 30 as Johnny Weissmuller did.

There's a mystique that surrounded Johnny Weissmuller and followed him all of his life. When he left Tarzan films to play Jungle Jim and other roles, it was Tarzan that people always remembered him as, particularly after the films found a revival on television. 

Tarzan's call, as immortalized by Johnny Weissmuller, has to be one of the most recognizable sounds on the face of the earth. Today, that same Tarzan Yell is a registered trademark owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. In the 1970s Johnny attended a gathering of Edgar Rice Burroughs fans in Los Angeles, and standing on a balcony overlooking the hotel lobby, he let loose with the immortal yell; and everyone within earshot stopped what they were doing to look up at him because they instantly recognized it, whether they were hotel clerks, bellhops or tourists. And when they saw that it really was him and not an incredible simulation, they smiled and applauded elatedly. Johnny Weissmuller became a legend in his own time, and this book is his story as only his son could tell it.

- Danton Burroughs, Secretary, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. - 

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