Friday, February 06, 2009

Tarzan, Akim, and Zembla

During my frequent Ebay searches for all things Tarzan, I kept coming across a character called Akim. A little research showed that Akim was a long running Tarzan knock off comic produced in Italy and very popular in France and other parts of Europe. Written by Robert Renzi and drawn by Augusto Pedrazza, Akim is the son of a British Consul, who is raised by Gorillas after his shipwrecked parents are killed by jungle beasts. He grows up into sort of a cross between the movie Tarzan and the comic strip version, eventually gaining a wife and an adopted son. The series began in the 1950s and ran for a respectable 756 issues in its original run. There have been numerous specials and reprints since, including some fairly recent Italian paperbacks. I managed to snag a couple of these off Ebay, and while I can't actually read them, the pictures carry the story pretty well. I have a few of the French reprints on the way as well.
While studying Akim I found out that after the adventures of the Italian Tarzan clone became so popular, Editions Lug, a French publisher, hired artist Pedrazza to create their own Tarzan clone, Zembla. Beginning in 1963, Zembla also had a long career and is still being published and reprinted today.
Zembla, at least in the stories that I've seen) is a little more weird than Akim. Zembla has some funny animal sidekicks (Including a kangaroo?!) as well as a human friend who dresses like Mandrake the magician. You can check this out for yourself if you wish, because Hexagon Comics, a division of Black Coat Press has put out English language paperback collections of Zembla and other French comics. I'll include a link to their page at the bottom of this post. They have some other cool titles too. In the meantime I have a few of the actual French issues of Zembla on the way to add to my ERB collection.
Oh, and while getting a copy of the Hexagon Zembla book, I also got a collection of Kabur, a Conan style sword & sorcery comic which is so much fun that it deserves a post of its own. Apparently Zembla and Kabur team up in a couple of issues of Special Zembla. Obviously I need to get my hands on those.
Anyway, both Akim and Zembla are fun Tarzan wannabes with just enough differences to make them interesting. Worth checking out if you don't mind doing a little searching on Ebay.

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