Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration

   Okay, seriously, if you're a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs' immortal creation Tarzan of the Apes, then you need this book. I'm saying this as a guy who owns dozens of books about Tarzan. Scott Tracy Griffin has done Tarzan fans a huge service by putting together this big, colorful coffee table book about everyone's favorite jungle lord.
   The book starts with a biography of Burroughs, then moves to chapters devoted to each of the two dozen Tarzan novels. Each book gets the star treatment, with a detailed synopsis, covers and illustrations from the original magazine appearances, then covers from the various hardback and paperback versions and even covers of the multiple comic book adaptations, many of these shot from the original art. Frank Frazetta. Russ Manning. Hal Foster. Thomas Yeates. Joe Jusko. Roy Krenkel. John Allen St. John. Names to conjure with. The book is printed on heavy paper so these illustrations really stand out. I was particularly taken with the covers from the 1960s Gold Key comics, as these were my introduction to Tarzan.
   In between these features, Griffin has done essays on Jane, Korak, Nkima, Jad bal ja, and the other characters who appeared in the books over the years. Learn about the various lost civilizations that Tarzan discovered and speculate on just what species were the apes that raised the jungle lord. There's even a full glossary of the ape language that Burroughs invented so you too can learn to speak ape. (I already do but I could use a refresher.)
   The book covers all the movies and television versions of Tarzan as well with plenty of photographs and loads of behind the scenes information. This really is a celebration of 100 years of Tarzan and it's hard to imagine a more thorough look at the lord of the jungle. Highly recommended.

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