Bomba, the Jungle Boy
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Bomba the Jungle Boy is a series of American boy's adventure books produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate under the pseudonym Roy Rockwood and published by Cupples & Leon in the first half of the 20th century in imitation of the successful Tarzan series.
There are 20 books in the series. The first ten are set in South America, where Bomba, who grew up in the jungle, tries to discover his origin. The second set of ten books shift the scene to Africa, where a slightly older Bomba has jungle adventures.
A common theme of the Bomba books is that Bomba, because he is white, has a soul that is awake, while his friends, the dark-skinned natives, have souls that are sleeping. Richard A. Lupoff, in his book Master of Adventure, a study of the works of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, describes the Bomba tales as more blatantly racist than the oft-criticized Tarzan books.
In 1949, Monogram Pictures brought the character to the motion-picture screen, in the person of Johnny Sheffield. Sheffield was already established as an outdoor star; he had portrayed the character Boy in the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. When the Bomba films, all set in Africa, proved popular with young audiences, the first 10 Bomba books were reprinted in the 1950s by Grosset & Dunlap, a publisher of many popular series books such as the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. These same books were reprinted again by Clover Books, a short-lived publisher that also reprinted the Grosset & Dunlap series Tom Quest.
In 1962, WGN-TV repackaged the Bomba films as a prime time summertime series called Zim Bomba that became a local ratings sensation. WGN executive Fred Silverman stated that "Zim" meant "Son of" in Swahili.
In 1967-68, DC Comics published a series of seven comic books based on the character.
The first editions all had the same picture on the dust jacket, only the title was different. The Grosset & Dunlap books had different pictures on the dust jacket of each title. The Clover editions had no dust jackets but had picture covers reprinting the Grosset & Dunlap art.
- Bomba the Jungle Boy, 1926
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the Moving Mountain, 1926
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy at the Giant Cataract, 1927
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy on Jaguar Island, 1927
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the Abandoned City, 1927
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy on Terror Trail, 1928
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy in the Swamp of Death, 1929
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy Among the Slaves, 1929
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy on the Underground River, 1930
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the Lost Explorers, 1930
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy in a Strange Land, 1931
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy Among the Pygmies, 1931
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the Cannibals, 1931
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the Painted Hunters, 1932
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the River Demons, 1932
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy and the Hostile Chieftain, 1934
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy Trapped by the Cyclone, 1935
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy in the Land of Burning Lava, 1936
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy in the Perilous Kingdom, 1937
- Bomba, the Jungle Boy in the Steaming Grotto, 1938
1. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY (1949 – 70 minutes)
A photographer and his daughter arrive in Africa hoping to capture the local wildlife on film. Instead, they encounter (and never photograph) a killer leopard, a swarm of locusts, deadly lion worshippers, and Bomba the Jungle Boy!
Bomba was raised by an aged naturalist, Cody Casson (since deceased) and lives beyond the Great Rift (similar to, but smaller than, Tarzan's Escarpment). The photographer's daughter, wearing a well-tailored leopard skin, spends most of the movie with Bomba, while her father, Commissioner Barnes, and Eli search for her. [Lita Baron]
2. BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND (1949 – 76 minutes)
A developer brings his sister with him to Africa with plans to build a plantation. Commissioner Barnes and Eli are back again to lend a hand, but unfortunately for them (and Bomba's monkey friend) a rogue panther is on the loose.
Bomba, with revenge on his mind, is hunting the panther when he comes upon the construction site. He gets sidetracked (and who can blame him) by the sister and her exotic traveling companion, but recovers in time to battle the panther in an exciting finish!
3. THE LOST VOLCANO (1950 – 67 minutes)
The parents of a young boy think Bomba is just an imaginary friend. Luckily, they learn differently after the boy is kidnapped by a pair of crooked jungle guides who are searching for a lost city's treasure.
[Johnny Sheffield] Bomba rescues the boy (often!), battles a croc, and with the help of an erupting volcano, and a python, finishes off the bad guys.
4. THE HIDDEN CITY (1950 – 71 minutes)
Sue England. Paul Guilfoyle. Damian O'Flynn. Leon Belasco. Charles La Torre. Smoki Whitfield.
A photographer and his guide meet a corrupt Emir with a dirty secret. Only Bomba knows the truth and the Emir wants him silenced! Bomba defeats the Emir and his henchmen, returning a lost princess to her throne.
This is the first Bomba movie to be filmed outdoors and it is very effective.
5. THE LION HUNTERS (1951 – 75 minutes)
A lion trapper and his daughter rendezvous with their hardheaded partner in the African jungle. Bomba, with some assistance from the local natives and lions, runs them off.
[Leonard Mudie] Bomba uses the word, "Umgawa," for the first time. Not even the presence of the mighty Woody Strode can save this movie...
6. ELEPHANT STAMPEDE (1951 – 71 minutes)
Donna Martell. John Kellog. Edith Evanson. Martin Wilkins. Myron Healey. Leonard Mudie. Guy Kingsford.
A school teacher has the locals learning to read. Her beautiful assistant is teaching Bomba when two ivory poachers arrive in the village, who try to force Bomba to lead them to a hidden cache of ivory.
Bomba calls on his elephant friends to deal out the fitting finish (a particularly grisly scene, I should add).
A new Commissioner Barnes shows up and he appears in all the adventures that follow.
7. AFRICAN TREASURE (1952 – 70 minutes)
Two unscrupulous geologists force the locals to work a hidden diamond mine. Bomba, while narrowly avoiding being buried alive, rescues them and defeats the villains.
Bomba demonstrates some communication skills as a jungle drummer (an ability that is used in all the movies that follow). There is also some enjoyable underwater action in this movie and a cameo by Woody Strode.
8. BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL (1952 – 70 minutes)
Bomba decides to find out who his parents were. He starts with Cody Casson's diary and follows the trail to a native village. An ancient blind woman tells him his parents and the village's true ruler were murdered by the current chieftain and his daughter.
[Behind the scenes...] With the aid of an inspector and his daughter, Bomba battles the usurpers in the cave where his parents were buried.
I'm not sure which daughter is the Jungle Girl of the title - probably the villainess...
9. SAFARI DRUMS (1953 – 71 minutes)
Douglas Kennedy. Barbara Bestar. Paul Marion. Russ Conway. Emory Parnell. Smoki Whitfield. Leonard Mudie.
A millionaire brings a tiger and film crew to Africa in hopes of staging a lion/tiger battle. Commissioner Barnes learns that one of the crew is a murderer and asks Bomba to find out which one!
The Lost Volcano erupts again (this film makes masterful use of previously seen footage!) and the lion/tiger battle is amazing!
10. THE GOLDEN IDOL (1954 – 71 minutes)
Anne Kimbell. Paul Guilfoyle. Leonard Mudie. Smoki Whitfield. Lane Bradford. Rick Vallin.
Prince Ali wants the Golden Idol of Watusi and hires a ruthless hunter to get it for him. Bomba has the idol and, with the help of Commissioner Barnes, Eli, and a beautiful archeologist, he foils Ali's plans.
[Anne Kimbell] Ali and the hunter are noticeably more cold-blooded than most of Bomba's adversaries!
11. KILLER LEOPARD (1954 – 70 minutes)
Beverly Garland. Barry Bernard. Donald Murphy. Leonard Mudie. Smoki Whitfield. Russ Conway. Rory Mallinson. Roy Glenn.
Bomba is hunting a rogue leopard when Commissioner Barnes asks him to assist a movie starlet trying to find her lost husband. The husband, wanting nothing to do with his famous wife, isn't lost and is in Africa attempting to use money he embezzled to purchase illicit diamonds.
Bomba has his hands full with both the leopard and the villain in an exciting finish!
12. LORD OF THE JUNGLE (1955 – 69 minutes)
Wayne Morris. Nancy Hale. Paul Picerni. William Phipps. Smoki Whitfield. Leonard Mudie. James Adamson.
Bomba must locate a rogue elephant before a stubborn group of government agents slaughter the entire herd. Surprisingly, Commissioner Barnes sides with the agents but his visiting niece helps Bomba.
After surviving a stampede (while tied up!), Bomba identifies the guilty elephant and rescues the herd.
- p.15 Smith, Sally Bedell Up the Tube: Prime Time TV and the Silverman Years 1981 Viking Press