Beard: Tarzan swings again in new bookWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Chances are if you know Tarzan of the Apes at all, you know him from the movies, but for a legion of his admirers, it’s both the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and a long-running newspaper comic strip where the character truly grew into legend.
Titan Books has just released a lush new hardcover, “Tarzan – In the City of Gold,” the first of four planned volumes which when completed will collect the entire run of artist Burne Hogarth’s unparalleled work on the Tarzan comic strip. The strip launched several years before Johnny Weissmuller ever donned a loincloth.
Something of a legendary figure himself, Hogarth took over the Ape Man’s strip from “Prince Valiant”‘s Hal Foster in 1937, a prize gig that catapulted the artist into the hall of fame of comic strip illustrators. This new book, so obviously lovingly assembled by Titan, shows off Hogarth’s work with over-sized pages and some of the nicest reproduction and color work in the industry today. Turning each page is a real treat, and not simply because of Tarzan’s wild adventures — Hogarth was a master of draftsmanship and layout, delivering action and intrigue in every panel with a detailed line and incredible attention to anatomy.
None of that is truly important, though, in light of the fact that publishers like Titan, working in conjunction with the still-active Burroughs estate, are working to keep Tarzan and his world alive and kicking into the 21st century. And that’s not as easy as it seems, despite more than 100 years of the Lord of the Jungle’s stories, for Tarzan may be seen by some as an archaic figure, a non-politically correct dinosaur from an Africa that never really existed. In fact, this volume of comic strips serves as something of a time capsule, a look into a pop culture phenomenon that reminds us of simpler times and even simpler pleasures. “Tarzan – In the City of Gold” reinforces the character’s place in publishing history, yes, but it might also make a reader yearn for a time when a comic strip was something you looked forward to, day in and day out.