Thursday, December 13, 2012
Manning was also representing one of my top three favorite fictional characters, Tarzan of the Apes, so it was a double for his book. This was volume one of Dark Horse Comics' Tarzan: The Russ Manning Years, and it reprints some of the comics that my mother collected and some of the first things that I ever read. In fact these comics helped me learn to read, as I have talked about before.
Along with writer Gaylord Dubois, Russ Manning illustrated a series of adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels and this volume features adaptations of Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, The Beasts of Tarzan, The Son of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan the Untamed, and Tarzan the Terrible. All of these are illustrated by Manning, whose smooth, graceful drawing style is just as fresh today as it was in the 1960s. Manning drew a noble, powerful (but not muscle bound) Tarzan. His scenes of the jungle are lush and exotic. His animals are accurately rendered. He drew beautiful women and fantastic lost cities. He was the perfect choice for the Tarzan comic book and later for the Sunday Newspaper strip. And he is my absolute favorite Tarzan artist. So yeah, glad to get this one.
The Jack Kirby book was the second and final collection of Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth, Kirby's post-apocalyptic, Planet of the Apes style comic. But in Kirby's World, almost all animals have evolved into creatures of human intelligence, so Kamandi (named for Command-D, the bunker he was raised in) has to deal with not only talking gorillas, but talking dogs, baboons, tigers, dolphins, and other intelligent beasts. This collection features one of my favorite issues, #29, which offers tantalizing glimpses of what became of the world's Greatest Superhero in the Great Disaster. A story called 'The Legend' reveals that somewhere perhaps, Superman is still alive. Great stuff.
And interesting connection between these two books is artist Mike Royer. Royer was the primary Inker for Kamandi and he also assisted Manning on some of the art reprinted in the Tarzan book. Both Manning and Kirby lived in California at the time and Royer ended up working for both of them. Bet he'd have some stories to tell. Anyway, two great books.