Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just Who IS John Carter?

The new Disney movie opening this weekend, John Carter, certainly has an intriguing ad campaign. But I but there are a lot of people out there who are wondering "Who the heck is John Carter??" I bet you didn't know that he had his origins in none other than a pulp fiction magazine, in a series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan.

This year, PulpFest will be honoring Burroughs beginning on August 9th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The following is from PulpFest's website:

"One hundred years ago in March of 1912, readers of Munsey’s The All-Story, were nearing the halfway point of a six-part serial entitled "Under the Moons of Mars," a story credited to Norman Bean. The work of a new fiction writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the novel tells the tale of Captain Jack Carter of Virginia, and of his adventures on the planet Mars.

First advertised in the January 1912 issue of The All-Story as "a surprisingly vivid Interplanetary romance," the original pulp version of Burroughs novel began with an editor’s note:

At the time of his demise, John Carter was a man of uncertain age and vast experience, honorable and abounding with true fellowship. He stood a good two inches over six feet, was broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, with the carriage of the trained fighting man. His features were regular and clear-cut, his eyes steel gray, reflecting a strong and loyal character. He was a Southerner of the highest type. He had enlisted at the outbreak of the War, fought through the four years and had been honorably discharged. Then for more than a decade he was gone from the sight of his fellows. When he returned he had changed, there was a kind of wistful longing and hopeless misery in his eyes, and he would sit for hours at night, staring up into the starlit heavens.

Thus was the reader of a century ago drawn into the mystery of Captain Jack. In the pages that followed that brief editor’s note and for the five issues thereafter, the readers of The All-Story were told a most wondrous tale, of four-armed Tharks and red-skinned Heliumites, of great and marvelous airships and many-legged thoats, of vast dead seas and long-abandoned cities, and of a lost princess and the man from another world who stole her heart, all created by a most gifted storyteller, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Now, one-hundred years later, a new audience will be introduced to Captain Jack. In less than a week’s time, Disney’s John Carter will debut in theaters everywhere and another generation will thrill to Burroughs’ imaginings."

Go to PulpFest to register for this year's events. It's at a great new venue, the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and with a great programme scheduled. Not to mention thousands and thousands of pulp magazines for sale, and attendees and dealers that are the nicest people this side of Mars.

And finally, here's the trailer for John Carter:

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Barry Traylor said...

I seem to recall that it was going to be titled John Carter of Mars but was shortened to John Carter. Personally I was rooting for the original title "Under the Moons of Mars" which for me at least has a much more evocative sound to it.
But I suppose I am just a romantic at heart.

Charles Gramlich said...

I heard that they thought John Carter of Mars would turn off female viewers. I'm not sure why. NOt the women I know!

Walker Martin said...

I think they made a mistake calling the movie, JOHN CARTER. UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS sounds alot better and more descriptive. Typical Hollywood bonehead decision. I will make a point of seeing this movie and I hope I'm pleasantly surprised.

Randy Johnson said...

Looking forward to this one. Hope Hollywood doesn't screw it up. The extended clip gives me hope. i had visions of them updaing Carter to an Iraqi veteran or some such.

Evan Lewis said...

My first thought, too, was that it should be John Carter of Mars. As is, they might as well have called it John Smith.

Laurie Powers said...

Yeah, I had the same thought as all of you. If the movie's good enough the title won't matter. But if it's bad, the fact that is has a puzzling title will make it sink like a stone.

Barry Traylor said...

Walker, otherwise known as The Pulp Guru should know if I am correct. ERB wanted his story by Normal Bean aka Normal Bean but it came out as Norman. Most likely due to a printers error.

Walker Martin said...

Yes, Barry is right. Burroughs wanted the story to be under the name of Normal Bean, meaning it was written by a normal guy, etc. Instead the printer thought it was a mistake and changed the name to Norman Bean.

Barry Traylor said...

I read "Under the Moons of Mars" more years ago than I want to admit to and remember that I was enchanted by the story. I have never revisited the story for fear that the memories may be better than revisiting it.
Sometimes you can't go home again.
I feel the same about "Darkness and Dawn" by George Allan England. I loved it when I read it darn near 40 years ago, but I am afraid to try it again.

Ed Hulse said...

I saw JOHN CARTER today and was pleasantly surprised, as I just told a Facebook friend who recently read the Mars series for the first time.

It's not perfect by any means, and it strays from "Princess of Mars" in several particulars. (It also incorporates characters and elements from "Gods of Mars" and "Warlord of Mars.") But it's better than us pulp geeks had any right to expect.

I think today's critics and audiences think that JOHN CARTER is warm beer because it bears so many similarities -- in theme, situations and characterizations -- to earlier movies, including the STAR WARS saga. But that's only because the earlier filmmakers have done such a good job pillaging ERB's stories.