Never has a century-old man looked so good. Not only did all 130,000 plus Comic Con attendees carry a classic Joe Jusko illustration of the buff Ape-Man around with them all weekend — it was the cover of this year’s Events Guide — but hundreds packed two panels devoted to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s most beloved creation.
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At a panel titled “100th Anniversary of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars” the award-winning Thomas Yeates, one of the finest and most enthusiastic Tarzan artists alive, interviewed the NBC TV Tarzan, Ron Ely, who — still tall and regal with silver hair and cool shades — repeatedly brought the house down with his dry wit and a story about rescuing his leading lady from the back of a crazed elephant. Another highlight of the panel with Mark Evanier and David Lemmo was the brilliant and prolific Tarzan artist Joe Jusko’s presentation of his newest commission by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate (so new the paint was literally still wet) showing Tarzan at his most savage — triumphant at the kill of a bull ape.
The second panel, “The Naked Truth About Tarzan and Jane” featured a spectacular slide show capturing glorious images inspired by Burroughs’ twenty-four Tarzan novels, and stills from the nearly one hundred movies starring the world’s wildest couple.
Some of the most jaw-dropping illustrations by panelists Yeates and Jusko showed Jane Porter’s rivals.
It was pointed out by Jim Sullos, president of the ERB estate and author Scott Tracy Griffith (Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration) that Tarzan always stayed faithful to Jane and never became romantically involved with any one else. This restraint alone would have made the Ape-Man a super-hero....
The panel concluded with my own video tribute,“Tarzan and Jane, The First 100 Years” featuring some of the most beloved clips from from the Johnny Weissmuller/Maureen O’Sullivan black and white films, including the infamous nude underwater swimming scene from Tarzan and His Mate (1934) that virtually jump-started Hollywood censorship — certainly a fun way to kick off a birthday celebration!
Robin Maxwell is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of eight novels of historical fiction. On September 18th JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan will be published by Tor Books. It is fully authorized by the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the first Tarzan classic ever told from Jane’s point of view.