Monday, 20 February 2012

Edgar Rice Burroughs

John Carter
A Princess of Mars

During my research for the Cartoon and Comic Arts Award at Staffordshire University I stumbled on the name John Carter while reading Alan Moores "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." He appears fleetingly at the end of the first volume then is seen helping the Barsoomians to take on H.G.Wells Martians at the start of the second volume.

Alan Moores' book introduced a range of classical literary heroes but none more so than John Carter. This got me to research who this character was and what he was doing on Mars. There is also reference to Gulliver as well in the Dialogue, who brings his army to assist in the battle.

Having fought in the American Civil War on the confederate side, Captain John Carter leaves for Arizona in search of his fortune prospecting in the hills for Gold. A group of Apache Indians hunt him and while fleeing he hides in a cave from where he is mysteriously transported to a small Red planet called Barsoom, or Mars to me and you!

Barsoom is itself in a middle of its own Civil war between two differing factions. On one hand there are the Green Skinned, war like Tharks, and on the other is the more reddish kind that bare an uncannily resemblance to humans.

Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs as his first attempt to do something to gain a little money, the serialisation of his story made him enough to make a name for himself and also encouraged him to write Tarzan.

Tarzan is probably Burroughs better known work, but credit has to go to John Carter as this character and his adventures has influenced so much of the modern sci-fi genre.

The stories were always to epic to be made into a film, but provided Marvel with ample opportunity to develop the story and also introduce it to younger readers.It was from theses beginnings that George Lucas is said to have read about the all American hero and it is fair to say a few more as well. 

It is easy to see how Burroughs writing has influenced a range of cinematic directors and authors. Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles owe a debt to Burroughs creation along with James Cameron's "AVATAR" as it was Burroughs who writes about creatures with 6 legs dominating the environment. Below is examples of how George Lucas has been influenced by Carter's adventure.  With the golden bikini which came synonymous with Princess Leia's Slave costume!  

Today Andrew Stanton of Pixar fame "Wall-E" has filmed a movie for Disney using the expertise that he developed with the Pixar company. I for one wait with abated breath for this to hit the cinemas soon.  

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