Dust-jacket illustration of Tarzan of the Apes
|First appearance||Tarzan of the Apes|
|Last appearance||Tarzan: the Lost Adventure|
|Created by||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
|Portrayed by||Elmo Lincoln
Casper Van Dien
Alex D. Linz
Earl GreystokeChieftain of the Waziri
|Spouse(s)||Jane Porter (wife)|
|Relatives||William Cecil Clayton (cousin)
Jackie Clayton (grandson)
Dick & Doc (distant cousins)
Bunduki (adopted son)
Tarzan (John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke) is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine publication 1912, book publication 1914), and subsequently in twenty-five sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized.
- 1 Character biography
- 2 Characterization
- 3 Skills and abilities
- 4 Literature
- 5 Tarzan in film and other non-print media
- 6 Tarzan in comics
- 7 Works inspired by Tarzan
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 See also
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Tarzan is the son of a British lord and lady who were marooned on the Atlantic coast of Africa by mutineers. When Tarzan was only an infant, his mother died, and his father was killed by Kerchak, leader of the ape tribe by whom Tarzan was adopted. From then onwards, Tarzan became a feral child. Tarzan's tribe of apes is known as the Mangani, Great Apes of a species unknown to science. Kala is his ape mother. Burroughs added stories occurring during Tarzan's adolescence in his sixth Tarzan book, Jungle Tales of Tarzan. Tarzan is his ape name; his real English name is John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke (according to Burroughs in Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle; Earl of Greystoke in later, less canonical sources, notably the 1984 movie Greystoke). In fact, Burroughs's narrator in Tarzan of the Apes describes both Clayton and Greystoke as fictitious names – implying that, within the fictional world that Tarzan inhabits, he may have a different real name.
As a young adult, Tarzan meets a young American woman, Jane Porter. She, her father, and others of their party are marooned on exactly the same coastal jungle area where Tarzan's biological parents were twenty years earlier. When Jane returns to the United States, Tarzan leaves the jungle in search of her, his one true love. In The Return of Tarzan, Tarzan and Jane marry. In later books he lives with her for a time in England. They have one son, Jack, who takes the ape name Korak ("the Killer"). Tarzan is contemptuous of the hypocrisy of civilization, and he and Jane return to Africa, making their home on an extensive estate that becomes a base for Tarzan's later adventures.
Burroughs created an elegant version of the wild man figure largely unalloyed with character flaws or faults. He is described as being Caucasian, extremely athletic, tall, handsome, and tanned, with grey eyes and long black hair. Emotionally, he is courageous, intelligent, loyal, and steadfast. He is presented as behaving ethically in most situations, except when seeking vengeance under the motivation of grief, as when his ape mother Kala is killed in Tarzan of the Apes, or when he believes Jane has been murdered in Tarzan the Untamed. He is deeply in love with his wife and totally devoted to her; in numerous situations where other women express their attraction to him, Tarzan politely but firmly declines their attentions. When presented with a situation where a weaker individual or party is being preyed upon by a stronger foe, Tarzan invariably takes the side of the weaker party. In dealing with other men, Tarzan is firm and forceful. With male friends, he is reserved but deeply loyal and generous. As a host, he is, likewise, generous and gracious. As a leader, he commands devoted loyalty.
In keeping with these noble characteristics, Tarzan's philosophy embraces an extreme form of "return to nature". Although he is able to pass within society as a civilized individual, he prefers to "strip off the thin veneer of civilization", as Burroughs often puts it. His preferred dress is a knife and a loincloth of animal hide, his preferred abode is any convenient tree branch when he desires to sleep, and his favored food is raw meat, killed by himself; even better if he is able to bury it a week so that putrefaction has had a chance to tenderize it a bit.
Tarzan's primitivist philosophy was absorbed by countless fans, amongst whom was Jane Goodall, who describes the Tarzan series as having a major influence on her childhood. She states that she felt she would be a much better spouse for Tarzan than his fictional wife, Jane, and that when she first began to live among and study the chimpanzees she was fulfilling her childhood dream of living among the great apes just as Tarzan did.
Skills and abilities
Tarzan's jungle upbringing gives him abilities far beyond those of ordinary humans. These include climbing, clinging, and leaping as well as any great ape, or better. He uses branches and hanging vines to swing at great speed, a skill acquired among the anthropoid apes.
His strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, senses, flexibility, durability, endurance, and swimming are extraordinary in comparison to normal men. He has wrestled full grown bull apes and gorillas, lions, rhinos, crocodiles, pythons, sharks, tigers, man-size seahorses (once) and even dinosaurs (when he visited Pellucidar).
He learns a new language in days, ultimately speaking many languages, including that of the great apes, French, Finnish, English, Dutch, German, Swahili, many Bantu dialects, Arabic, ancient Greek, ancient Latin, Mayan, the languages of the Ant Men and of Pellucidar.
He also communicates with many species of jungle animals, and has been shown to be a skilled impressionist, able to mimic the sound of a gunshot perfectly.
In Tarzan's Quest (1935), he was one of the recipients of an immortality drug at the end of the book that functionally made him immortal.
Tarzan has been called one of the best-known literary characters in the world. In addition to more than two dozen books by Burroughs and a handful more by authors with the blessing of Burroughs' estate, the character has appeared in films, radio, television, comic strips, and comic books. Numerous parodies and pirated works have also appeared.
Burroughs considered other names for the character, including "Zantar" and "Tublat Zan," before he settled on "Tarzan."
While Tarzan of the Apes met with some critical success, subsequent books in the series received a cooler reception and have been criticized for being derivative and formulaic. The characters are often said to be two-dimensional, the dialogue wooden, and the storytelling devices (such as excessive reliance on coincidence) strain credulity. According to author Rudyard Kipling (who himself wrote stories of a feral child, The Jungle Book's Mowgli), Burroughs wrote Tarzan of the Apes just so that he could "find out how bad a book he could write and get away with it."
While Burroughs is not a polished novelist, he is a vivid storyteller, and many of his novels are still in print. In 1963, author Gore Vidal wrote a piece on the Tarzan series that, while pointing out several of the deficiencies that the Tarzan books have as works of literature, praises Edgar Rice Burroughs for creating a compelling "daydream figure". Critical reception grew more positive with the 1981 study by Erling B. Holtsmark, Tarzan and Tradition: Classical Myth in Popular Literature. Holtsmark added a volume on Burroughs for Twayne's United States Author Series in 1986. In 2010, Stan Galloway provided a sustained study of the adolescent period of the fictional Tarzan's life in The Teenage Tarzan.
Despite critical panning, the Tarzan stories have remained popular. Burroughs's melodramatic situations and the elaborate details he works into his fictional world, such as his construction of a partial language for his great apes, appeal to a worldwide fan base.
The Tarzan books and movies employ extensive stereotyping to a degree common in the times in which they were written. This has led to criticism in later years, with changing social views and customs, including charges of racism since the early 1970s. The early books give a pervasively negative and stereotypical portrayal of native Africans, including Arabs. In The Return of Tarzan, Arabs are "surly looking" and call Christians "dogs", while blacks are "lithe, ebon warriors, gesticulating and jabbering". One could make an equal argument that when it came to blacks that Burroughs was simply depicting unwholesome characters as unwholesome and the good ones in a better light as in Chapter 6 of Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar where Burroughs writes of Mugambi, "...nor could a braver or more loyal guardian have been found in any clime or upon any soil." Other groups are stereotyped as well. A Swede has "a long yellow moustache, an unwholesome complexion, and filthy nails", and Russians cheat at cards. The aristocracy (except the House of Greystoke) and royalty are invariably effete. In later books, Africans are portrayed somewhat more realistically as people. For example, in Tarzan's Quest, while the depiction of Africans remains relatively primitive, they are portrayed more individualistically, with a greater variety of character traits (positive and negative), while the main villains are white people. Burroughs never loses his distaste for European royalty, though.
Burroughs' opinions, manifested through the narrative voice in the stories, reflect common attitudes in his time, which in a 21st-century context would be considered racist and sexist. However Thomas F. Bertonneau writes about Burroughs' "conception of the feminine that elevates the woman to the same level as the man and that – in such characters as Dian of the Pellucidar novels or Dejah Thoris of the Barsoom novels – figures forth a female type who corresponds neither to desperate housewife, full-lipped prom-date, middle-level careerist office-manager, nor frowning ideological feminist-professor, but who exceeds all these by bounds in her realized humanity and in so doing suggests their insipidity." The author is not especially mean-spirited in his attitudes. His heroes do not engage in violence against women or in racially motivated violence. In Tarzan of the Apes, details of a background of suffering experienced at the hands of whites by Mbonga's "once great" people are repeatedly told with evident sympathy, and in explanation or even justification of their current animosity toward whites.
Although the character of Tarzan does not directly engage in violence against women, feminist scholars have critiqued the presence of other sympathetic male characters who do with Tarzan's approval. In Tarzan and the Ant Men, the men of a fictional tribe of creatures called the Alali gain social dominance of their society by beating Alali women into submission with weapons that Tarzan willingly provides them. Following the battle, Burroughs states: "To entertain Tarzan and to show him what great strides civilization had taken—the son of The First Woman seized a female by the hair and dragging her to him struck her heavily about the head and face with his clenched fist, and the woman fell upon her knees and fondled his legs, looking wistfully into his face, her own glowing with love and admiration. (178)" While Burroughs depicts some female characters with humanistic equalizing elements, Torgovnick argues that violent scenes against women in the context of male political and social domination are condoned in his writing, reinforcing a notion of gendered hierarchy where patriarchy is portrayed as the natural pinnacle of society.
In regards to race, a superior-inferior relationship with valuation is also accordingly implied, as it is unmistakable in virtually all interactions between whites and blacks in the Tarzan stories, and similar relationships and valuations can be seen in most other interactions between differing people, although one could argue that such interactions are the bedrock of the dramatic narrative and without such valuations there is no story. According to James Loewen's Sundown Towns, this may be a vestige of Burroughs' having been from Oak Park, Illinois, a former Sundown town (a town that forbids non-whites from living within it).
Gail Bederman takes a different view in her Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917. There she describes how various people of the time either challenged or upheld the idea that "civilization" is predicated on white masculinity. She closes with a chapter on 1912's Tarzan of the Apes because the story's protagonist is, according to her, the ultimate male by the standards of 1912 white America. Bederman does note that Tarzan, "an instinctivily chivalrous Anglo-Saxon", does not engage in sexual violence, renouncing his "masculine impulse to rape." However, she also notes that not only does Tarzan kill black man Kulonga in revenge for killing his ape mother (a stand-in for his biological white mother) by hanging him, "lyncher Tarzan" actually enjoys killing black people, the cannibalistic Mbongans, for example. Bederman, in fact, reminds readers that when Tarzan first introduces himself to Jane, he does so as "Tarzan, the killer of beasts and many black men." The novel climaxes with Tarzan saving Jane—who in the original novel is not British, but a white woman from Baltimore, Maryland—from a black ape rapist. When he leaves the jungle and sees "civilized" Africans farming, his first instinct is to kill them just for being black. "Like the lynch victims reported in the Northern press, Tarzan's victims--cowards, cannibals, and despoilers of white womanhood--lack all manhood. Tarzan's lynchings thus prove himself the superior man."
Despite embodying all the tropes of white supremacy espoused or rejected by the people she had reviewed (Theodore Roosevelt, G. Stanley Hall, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ida B. Wells), Bederman states that, in all probability, Burroughs was not trying to make any kind of statement or echo any of them. "He probably never heard of any of them." Instead, Bederman writes that Burroughs proves her point because in telling racist and sexist stories whose protagonist boasted of killing blacks, he was not being unusual at all, but was instead just being a typical 1912 white American.
Tarzan is a white European male who grows up with apes. According to "Taking Tarzan Seriously" by Marianna Torgovnick, Tarzan is confused with the social hierarchy that he is a part of. Unlike everyone else in his society, Tarzan is the only one who is not clearly part of any social group. All the other members of his world are not able to climb or decline socially because they are already part of a social hierarchy which is stagnant. Turgovnick writes that since Tarzan was raised as an ape, he thinks and acts like an ape. However, instinctively he is human and he resorts to being human when he is pushed to. The reason of his confusion is that he does not understand what the typical white male is supposed to act like. His instincts eventually kick in when he is in the midst of this confusion, and he ends up dominating the jungle. In Tarzan, the jungle is a microcosm for the world in general in 1912 to the early 1930s. His climbing of the social hierarchy proves that the European white male is the most dominant of all races/sexes, no matter what the circumstance. Furthermore, Turgovnick writes that when Tarzan first meets Jane, she is slightly repulsed but also fascinated by his animal-like actions. As the story progresses, Tarzan surrenders his knife to Jane in an oddly chivalrous gesture, which makes Jane fall for Tarzan despite his odd circumstances. Turgovnick believes that this displays an instinctual, civilized chivalry that Burrough believes is common in white men.
After Burroughs' death a number of writers produced new Tarzan stories. In some instances, the estate managed to prevent publication of such works. The most notable example in the United States was a series of five novels by the pseudonymous "Barton Werper" that appeared 1964-65 by Gold Star Books (part of Charlton Comics). As a result of legal action by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., they were taken off the market and remaining copies destroyed. Similar series appeared in other countries, notably Argentina, Israel, and some Arab countries.
In Israel in the 1950s and early 1960s there was a thriving industry of locally produced Tarzan adventures published weekly in 24-page brochures by several competing publishing houses, none of which worked with the Burroughs estate. The stories featured Tarzan in contemporary Africa. A popular theme being his fighting against the Mau Mau in 1950s Kenya and single-handedly crushing their revolt several times over. He also fought a great variety of monsters, vampires and invaders from outer space infesting the African jungles and discovered several more lost cities and cultures in addition to the ones depicted in the Burroughs canon. Some brochures had him meet with Israelis and take Israel's side against her Arab enemies, especially Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt.
None of the brochures credited an author, and the various publishers - "Elephant Publishing" (Hebrew: הוצאת הפיל), "Rhino Publishing" (Hebrew: הוצאת הקרנף) and several similar names - provided no more of an address than POB numbers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These Tarzan brochures were extremely popular among Israeli youths of the time, successfully competing with the numerous Hebrew translations of the original Tarzan novels. The Tarzan brochures faded out by the middle 1960s. Surviving copies have fetched high prices as collectors' items in the Israeli used-book market. Researcher Eli Eshed has spent considerable time and effort on the Tarzan brochures and other Israeli pulp magazines and paperbacks.
The "Barton Werper" novels still exist and are available via the Internet. In the 1950s new Tarzan stories were also published in Syria and Lebanon. Tarzan in these versions was a staunch supporter of the Arab cause and helped his Arab friends foil various fiendish Israeli plots.
In 1972, Science fiction author Philip José Farmer wrote Tarzan Alive, a biography of Tarzan utilizing the frame device that he was a real person. In Farmer's fictional universe, Tarzan, along with Doc Savage and Sherlock Holmes, are the cornerstones of the Wold Newton family. Farmer wrote two novels, Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar, set in the distant past and giving the antecedents of the lost city of Opar, which plays an important role in the Tarzan books. In addition, Farmer's A Feast Unknown, and its two sequels Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin, are pastiches of the Tarzan and Doc Savage stories, with the premise that they tell the story of the real characters the fictional characters are based upon. A Feast Unknown is somewhat infamous among Tarzan and Doc Savage fans for its graphic violence and sexual content.
Tarzan in film and other non-print media
The Internet Movie Database lists 200 movies with Tarzan in the title between 1918 and 2014. The first Tarzan movies were silent pictures adapted from the original Tarzan novels, which appeared within a few years of the character's creation. The first actor to portray the adult Tarzan was Elmo Lincoln in 1918's Tarzan Of The Apes. With the advent of talking pictures, a popular Tarzan movie franchise was developed, which lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s. Starting with Tarzan the Ape Man in 1932 through twelve films until 1948, the franchise was anchored by former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller in the title role. Weissmuller and his immediate successors were enjoined to portray the ape-man as a noble savage speaking broken English, in marked contrast to the cultured aristocrat of Burroughs's novels.
With the exception of the Burroughs co-produced The New Adventures of Tarzan, this "me Tarzan, you Jane" characterization of Tarzan persisted until the late 1950s, when producer Sy Weintraub, having bought the film rights from producer Sol Lesser, produced Tarzan's Greatest Adventure followed by eight other films and a television series. The Weintraub productions portray a Tarzan that is closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs' original concept in the novels: a jungle lord who speaks grammatical English and is well educated and familiar with civilization. Most Tarzan films made before the mid-fifties were black-and-white films shot on studio sets, with stock jungle footage edited in. The Weintraub productions from 1959 on were shot in foreign locations and were in color.
There were also several serials and features that competed with the main franchise, including Tarzan the Fearless (1933) starring Buster Crabbe and The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935) starring Herman Brix. The latter serial was unique for its period in that it was partially filmed on location (Guatemala) and portrayed Tarzan as educated. It was the only Tarzan film project for which Edgar Rice Burroughs was personally involved in the production.
Tarzan films from the 1930s on often featured Tarzan's chimpanzee companion Cheeta, his consort Jane (not usually given a last name), and an adopted son, usually known only as "Boy." The Weintraub productions from 1959 on dropped the character of Jane and portrayed Tarzan as a lone adventurer. Later Tarzan films have been occasional and somewhat idiosyncratic. Recently, Tony Goldwyn portrayed Tarzan in Disney’s animated film of the same name (1999). This version marked a new beginning for the ape man, taking its inspiration equally from Burroughs and the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.
Tarzan was the hero of two popular radio programs in the United States. The first aired from 1932–1936 with James Pierce in the role of Tarzan. The second ran from 1951–1953 with Lamont Johnson in the title role.
Television later emerged as a primary vehicle bringing the character to the public. From the mid-1950s, all the extant sound Tarzan films became staples of Saturday morning television aimed at young and teenaged viewers. In 1958, movie Tarzan Gordon Scott filmed three episodes for a prospective television series. The program did not sell, but a different live action Tarzan series produced by Sy Weintraub and starring Ron Ely ran on NBC from 1966 to 1968. An animated series from Filmation, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, aired from 1976 to 1977, followed by the anthology programs Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour (1977–1978), Tarzan and the Super 7 (1978–1980), The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour (1980–1981), and The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour) (1981–1982). Joe Lara starred in the title role in Tarzan in Manhattan (1989), an offbeat TV movie, and later returned in a completely different interpretation in Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996), a new live-action series. In between the two productions with Lara, Tarzán, a half-hour syndicated series ran from 1991 through 1994. In this version of the show, Tarzan was portrayed as a blond environmentalist, with Jane turned into a French ecologist. Disney’s animated series The Legend of Tarzan (2001–2003) was a spin-off from its animated film. The latest television series was the live-action Tarzan (2003), which starred male model Travis Fimmel and updated the setting to contemporary New York City, with Jane as a police detective, played by Sarah Wayne Callies. The series was cancelled after only eight episodes. A 1981 television special, The Muppets Go to the Movies, features a short sketch titled "Tarzan and Jane". Lily Tomlin plays Jane opposite The Great Gonzo as Tarzan. In addition, the Muppets have made reference to Tarzan on half a dozen occasions since the 1960s. Saturday Night Live featured recurring sketches with the speech-impaired trio of "Frankenstein, Tonto, and Tarzan".
A 1921 Broadway production of Tarzan of The Apes starred Ronald Adair as Tarzan and Ethel Dwyer as Jane Porter. In 1976, Richard O'Brien wrote a musical entitled T. Zee, loosely based on Tarzan but restyled in a rock idiom. Tarzan, a musical stage adaptation of the 1999 animated feature, opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway on May 10, 2006. The show, a Disney Theatrical production, was directed and designed by Bob Crowley. The same version of Tarzan that was played at the Richard Rodgers Theatre is being played throughout Europe and has been a huge success in the Netherlands. The Broadway show closed on July 8, 2007. Tarzan also appeared in the Tarzan Rocks! show at the Theatre in the Wild at Walt Disney World Resort's Disney's Animal Kingdom. The show closed in 2006.
Video and computer games
In the mid-1980s there was an arcade video game called Jungle King that featured a Tarzanesque character in a loin cloth. A game under the title Tarzan Goes Ape was released in the 1980s for the Commodore 64. A Tarzan computer game by Michael Archer was produced by Martech. Disney's Tarzan had seen video games released for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color. Followed by Disney's Tarzan Untamed for the PS2 and Gamecube. Tarzan also appeared in the PS2 game Kingdom Hearts, although this Tarzan was shown in the Disney context, not the original conceptional idea of Tarzan by Bourroughs. In the first Rayman, a Tarzannesque version of Rayman named Tarayzan appears in the Dream Forest.
In the 1982 video game Pitfall! for the Atari VCS game console system, the main hero, called "Pitfall Harry," sometimes has to traverse vines over dangerous lakes. When doing so, a sound effect is played imitating Tarzan's signature cry.
Throughout the 1970s Mego Corporation licensed the Tarzan character and produced 8" action figures which they included in their "World's Greatest Super Heroes" line of characters. In 1975 they also produced a 3" "Bendy" figure made of poseable, malleable plastic.
Several Tarzan-themed products have been manufactured, including View-Master reels and packets, numerous Tarzan coloring books, children's books, follow-the-dots, and activity books.
Tarzan in comics
Tarzan of the Apes was adapted in newspaper strip form, in early 1929, with illustrations by Hal Foster. A full page Sunday strip began March 15, 1931 by Rex Maxon. Over the years, many artists have drawn the Tarzan comic strip, notably Burne Hogarth, Russ Manning, and Mike Grell. The daily strip began to reprint old dailies after the last Russ Manning daily (#10,308, which ran on 29 July 1972). The Sunday strip also turned to reprints circa 2000. Both strips continue as reprints today in a few newspapers and in Comics Revue magazine. NBM Publishing did a high quality reprint series of the Foster and Hogarth work on Tarzan in a series of hardback and paperback reprints in the 1990s.
Tarzan has appeared in many comic books from numerous publishers over the years. The character's earliest comic book appearances were in comic strip reprints published in several titles, such as Sparkler, Tip Top Comics and Single Series. Western Publishing published Tarzan in Dell Comics's Four Color Comics #134 & 161 in 1947, before giving him his own series, Tarzan, published through Dell Comics and later Gold Key Comics from January–February 1948 to February 1972). DC took over the series in 1972, publishing Tarzan #207-258 from April 1972 to February 1977, including work by Joe Kubert. In 1977 the series moved to Marvel Comics, which restarted the numbering rather than assuming that used by the previous publishers. Marvel issued Tarzan #1-29 (as well as three Annuals), from June 1977 to October 1979, mainly by John Buscema. Following the conclusion of the Marvel series the character had no regular comic book publisher for a number of years. During this period Blackthorne Comics published Tarzan in 1986, and Malibu Comics published Tarzan comics in 1992. Dark Horse Comics has published various Tarzan series from 1996 to the present, including reprints of works from previous publishers like Gold Key and DC, and joint projects with other publishers featuring crossovers with other characters.
There have also been a number of different comic book projects from other publishers over the years, in addition to various minor appearances of Tarzan in other comic books. The Japanese manga series Jungle no Ouja Ta-chan (Jungle King Tar-chan) by Tokuhiro Masaya was based loosely on Tarzan. Also, manga "god" Osamu Tezuka created a Tarzan manga in 1948 entitled Tarzan no Himitsu Kichi (Tarzan's Secret Base).
Works inspired by Tarzan
In the 1940s, the Finnish writer Lahja Valakivi published four adventure novels about Tarsa karhumies, i.e., Tarsa the Bear Man. The books were obviously inspired by Tarzan, but they were adapted into a Finnish setting: as there are no apes in Finland, the hero Tarsa was raised by bears instead. Tarzan was an early inspiration for the character of Superman.When asked about his inspiration, Jerry Siegal-co-creator of the Man of Steel named Tarzan as an early influence,along another Burroughs character John Carter. Yes, the “King of the Apes” evolved into the spandex-wearing, cape flourishing, defender of Metropolis. Tarzan's popularity inspired numerous imitators that appeared in pulp magazines. A number of these like Kwa and Ka-Zar were direct or loosely veiled copies, others like Polaris of the Snows were similar characters in different settings, or with different gimmicks. Of these characters the most popular was Ki-Gor, he starred in fifty-nine novels that appeared between winter 1939 to spring 1954 in the magazine Jungle Stories. Ka-Zar,was also revamped as a Marvel character living among the Savage Land.Although not obvious at first, Marvel Comics Underwaterhero Prince Namor,the Sub-Mariner is a kind of underwater Tarzan.
In 1946, the animated Disney film Frank Duck Brings 'Em Back Alive depicted Goofy as a Tarzan-like "wild man" living in the jungle.
In 1950, the Italian comics series Akim was created as a rather straight copy of Tarzan. It was published between 1950-1967, and 1976-1983. Frank Frazetta illustrated a Tarzan inspired character in the Fifties called Thun'da
In 1967, Jay Ward Productions released the animated series George of the Jungle, a Tarzanesque spoof about an ape-man hero who is a good-natured klutz, constantly crashing into trees and other obstacles as he vine-swings through the jungle foliage. George was voiced by Bill Scott (voice actor), Ward's producing partner and head writer. Later on a film was made starring Brendan Fraser, followed by a direct-to-video sequel.
Disney released The World's Greatest Athlete in 1973, which was about a Tarzanesque figure named Nanu (Jan-Michael Vincent) who was spotted by a Safari guide with American coaches to participate in sports competitions.
"Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle" was an X-rated 1975 animated feature spoof created by French cartoonist Picha. Dubbed into English by voice actors including John Belushi and Bill Murray, with Johnny Weissmuller, Jr.'s voice as the title character; the film ran into legal problems in the US with the Burroughs estate. The distributors had to remove the title character's name from the film. Without the parody reference included, the film was not a commercial success.
In 2007, a Canadian remake of the original George of the Jungle cartoon was made, it aired on Teletoon in Canada and Cartoon Network in America. A video game based on the show released for the Wii, PS2, and the Nintendo DS.
The original female takeoff of the jungle lord, Sheena was created by Will Eisner’s studio partner S.M. Iger under the pseudonym W. Morgan Thomas, probably with at least some input from Eisner. Combining the jungle orphan adventure of Tarzan and other characters in literature with bouncy, rippling girl-flesh rendered fantastically by Eisner, Robert Webb, and Bob Powell, Sheena was an instant success, becoming the first female character to have her own title. She was so popular that at one point she even seemed to threaten Tarzan’s place atop the jungle, with her own television series in the fifties, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and literally dozens of comic-book imitators: Cave Girl, Camilla, Wild Girl of the Congo, Lorna the Jungle Girl, Jann of the Jungle, Judy of the Jungle, Rima, and Shanna the She-Devil, and Fletcher Hanks’ Fantomah among them. Daughter of Cardwell Rivington, but raised by a witch doctor, Sheena could communicate with the animals, but in most cases seemed to prefer fighting them. The character spawned two TV series, one in 1955 starring Irish McCalla and one in 2000 starring Gena Lee Nolin, and a 1984 movie starring Tanya Roberts. Tara Fremont is an AC Comics version of a female Tarzan found in their comic Femforce. Even the long running British Science Fiction, Doctor Who got into the act with Leela (Doctor Who)-a companion for the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker. Jungle Janet, a red-haired jungle girl drawn as a massive female bodybuilder-type, appears as a member of a heroic team, "The Civic-Minded Five," in the animated TV series The Tick. Throughout the years the rights to Sheena have been held by several publishers.
Jana of the Jungle was another female Tarzan. The series features a teenage heroine named Jana (voiced by B.J. Ward (actress)). Unlike the African locale of Tarzan or Sheena, Jana is set along the Amazon River in Venezuela. Her father vanished in a boat accident, from which she was rescued by a native warrior named Montaro, (voiced by Ted Cassidy), who becomes her foster father. She has long blonde hair, wears a dress made of unspecified animal skin and a necklace which doubles as a throwable weapon (somewhat similar to the chakram that would be the weapon of choice for the later, live-action Xena, Warrior Princess) given to her by her father. Jana is accompanied in her adventures by Montaro, who carries a magical "Staff of Power" which can create earthquake-like vibrations; Dr. Ben Cooper (voiced by Michael Bell (actor)), a veterinary scientist; and two animal friends, Ghost, an albino jaguar, and Tico, a yapok (water opossum.) The Hanna-Barbera series was designed and co-produced by Doug Wildey, a former Gold Key Tarzan artist. Jana searches for her lost father, and in one episode believes she has found him, but it proves not to be true. Jana is the only major jungle girl character who speaks perfect, "unbroken" English.
Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, is the cruel mirror held up Tarzan. Like Tarzan, he’s an orphan, but not by plane crash or shipwreck. After the Bolsheviks murdered the Tsar, Kravinoff’s family were chased out of Russia and forced to live in abject poverty in foreign lands, an experience that eventually killed his parents. Sergei survived by learning to hunt, and eventually made his way to Africa, where he became Kraven, the most famous big-game hunter in the world.
When animals no longer appease him, he moves on to men and then supermen, with Spider-Man as his primary quarry. Like Tarzan, he reveres animals, hunting only with his bare hands. Unlike Tarzan, Kraven indulges in shamanistic hunting rituals like the ingestion of toxic substances and adorning oneself with freshly-skinned costumes.
Like many of Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics characters, Tom Strong was a hybrid/amalgamation/mashup of classic characters. In Tom Strong, Moore and artist Chris Sprouse combined the origins of Tarzan with Doc Savage to fantastic effect. Marooned in a savage environment, the Strong family had the distinct advantage of scientific genius on its side. While living on the mysterious island of Attabar Teru, Tom’s parents performed “gravity experiments” that gave him superhuman strength.
Though not raised by or lord to animals, Tom Strong goes on to have great relationships with the island’s native inhabitants, ingesting his tribe’s life-lengthening Goloka Root, marrying a local girl and conceiving a daughter, as well as a strong friendship with King Solomon, a talking gorilla.
Warren Ellis' and John Cassaday's Planetary features in its issues 1 and 17 a British Tarzan-like character, Kevin Sack, Lord Blackstock, who was "lost as an infant, raised by jungle fauna" and now (the 1930s in issue 17) "comes back to Africa every few years".
The Japanese manga series "Jungle no Ouja Ta-chan" (Ta-chan, King of the Jungle) by Tokuhiro Masaya was based loosely on Tarzan. It was later made into an anime series. It featured the characters of Tarzan and his wife Jane, who had become obese after settling down with Tarzan. The series begins as a comical parody of Tarzan, but later expands to other settings, such as a martial arts tournament in China, professional wrestling in America, and even a fight with vampires.
In Asia, Philippine Cinema's inclination in satirizing western entertainment produced Starzan, a comedy film loosely based on the original Tarzan franchise. It stars Filipino comedic actor Joey De Leon as Starzan, Rene Requiestas as "Chitae", and Zsa Zsa Padilla as Jane.
Warren Ellis' and John Cassaday's Planetary features in its issues 1 and 17 a British Tarzan-like character, Kevin Sack, Lord Blackstock, who was "lost as an infant, raised by jungle fauna" and now (the 1930s in issue 17) "comes back to Africa every few years".
Tommy from the Pokémon anime episode The Kangaskhan Kid. and possibly Hareta from the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! manga are also parodies of Tarzan.
In popular culture
Tarzan is often used as a nickname to indicate a similarity between a person's characteristics and that of the fictional character. Individuals with an exceptional 'ape-like' ability to climb, cling and leap beyond that of ordinary humans may often receive the nickname 'Tarzan'. An example is retired American baseball player Joe Wallis.
British politician Michael Heseltine is nicknamed Tarzan, and was often portrayed as such in the press.
"Tarzan Boy" is a song recorded by Italian-based act Baltimora. It was the group's debut single, released in April 1985, from its first album Living in the Background, on which it features as first track. The song was re-recorded in 1993 and has been covered by several artists throughout the years. The refrain uses Tarzan's cry as a melodic line. The song is rhythmical, with an electronic melody and simple lyrics.
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
- Main Series
- Tarzan of the Apes (1912) (Project Gutenberg Entry:Ebook) (LibriVox.org Audiobook)
- The Return of Tarzan (1913) (Ebook) (Audiobook)
- The Beasts of Tarzan (1914) (Ebook) (Audiobook)
- The Son of Tarzan (1914) (Ebook) (Audiobook)
- Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916) (Ebook) (Audiobook)
- Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1919) (Ebook) (Audiobook)
- "Tarzan's First Love" (1916)
- "The Capture of Tarzan" (1916)
- "The Fight for the Balu" (1916)
- "The God of Tarzan" (1916)
- "Tarzan and the Black Boy" (1917)
- "The Witch-Doctor Seeks Vengeance" (1917)
- "The End of Bukawai" (1917)
- "The Lion" (1917)
- "The Nightmare" (1917)
- "The Battle for Teeka" (1917)
- "A Jungle Joke" (1917)
- "Tarzan Rescues the Moon" (1917)
- Tarzan the Untamed (1920) (Ebook)
- "Tarzan and the Huns" (1919)
- "Tarzan and the Valley of Luna" (1920)
- Tarzan the Terrible (1921) (Ebook) (Audiobook)
- Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1922, 1923) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924) (Ebook)
- Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1927, 1928) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1928) (Ebook)
- Tarzan at the Earth's Core (1929) (Ebook)
- Tarzan the Invincible (1930, 1931) (Ebook)
- Tarzan Triumphant (1931) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the City of Gold (1932) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the Lion Man (1933, 1934) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1935) (Ebook)
- Tarzan's Quest (1935, 1936) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the Forbidden City (1938) (Ebook)
- Tarzan the Magnificent (1939) (Ebook)
- "Tarzan and the Magic Men" (1936)
- "Tarzan and the Elephant Men" (1937–1938)
- Tarzan and the Foreign Legion (1947) (Ebook)
- Tarzan and the Madman (1964)
- Tarzan and the Castaways (1965)
- "Tarzan and the Castaways" (1941) (Ebook)
- "Tarzan and the Champion" (1940)
- "Tarzan and the Jungle Murders" (1940)
- Barton Werper – these novels were never authorized by the Burroughs estate, were taken off the market and remaining copies destroyed.
- Tarzan and the Silver Globe (1964)
- Tarzan and the Cave City (1964)
- Tarzan and the Snake People (1964)
- Tarzan and the Abominable Snowmen (1965)
- Tarzan and the Winged Invaders (1965)
- Fritz Leiber – the first novel authorized by the Burroughs estate, and numbered as the 25th book in the Tarzan series.
- Philip José Farmer
- Tarzan Alive (1972) a fictional biography of Tarzan (here Lord Greystoke), which is one of the two foundational books (along with Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life) of the Wold Newton family.
- The Adventure of the Peerless Peer (1974) Sherlock Holmes goes to Africa and meets Tarzan.
- The Dark Heart of Time (1999) this novel was specifically authorized by the Burroughs estate, and references Tarzan by name rather than just by inference. The story is set between Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible.
- Farmer also wrote a novel based on his own fascination with Tarzan, entitled Lord Tyger, and translated the novel Tarzan of the Apes into Esperanto.
- R. A. Salvatore
- Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996) an authorized novel based on the pilot episode of the series of the same name.
- Nigel Cox
Publisher Faber and Faber with the backing of the Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. have updated the series using Author Andy Briggs and in 2011 he published the first of the books Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy. In 2012 he published the second book Tarzan: The Jungle Warrior In 2013, he has published the third book Tarzan: The Savage Lands.
- "John Clayton II" in Burroughs, Edgar Rice (1914). "Chapter XXV". Tarzan of the Apes.
our little boy... the second John Clayton(Check the next reference)
- Farmer, Philip José (1972). "Chapter One". Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke. p. 8.
- Burroughs, Edgar Rice (1928). Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.
- Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Warner Bros. 1984.
- Burroughs, Edgar Rice (1924). "Chapter Two". Tarzan and the Ant Men.
- The Return of Tarzan, chapter 2, being the earliest instance.
- See The Jane Goodall Institute's Biography of Jane Goodall .
- John Clute and Peter Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Press, 1993, ISBN 0-312-09618-6, p. 178, "Tarzan is a remarkable creation, and possibly the best-known fictional character of the century."
- "Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc". Tarzan.org. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
- Gail Bederman,Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917, University of Chicago Press, 1995, pages 219.
- John Clute and Peter Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Press, 1993, ISBN 0-312-09618-6, p. 178, "It has often been said that ERB's works have small literary or intellectual merit. Nevertheless,...because ERB had a genius for the literalization of the dream, they have endured."
- "Tarzan Revisited" by Gore Vidal.
- Erling B. Holtsmark, Tarzan and Tradition: Classical Myth in Popular Literature, Greenwood Press, 1981.
- Erling B. Holtsmark, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Twayne's United States Author Series, Twayne Publishers, 1986.
- Stan Galloway, The Teenage Tarzan: A Literary Analysis of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Tales of Tarzan, McFarland, 2010.
- "Bozarth, David Bruce. "Ape-English Dictionary"". Erblist.com. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
- Rothschild, Bertram (1999). "Tarzan - Review". Humanist.
- Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, A.C. McClurg, 1918
- Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Return of Tarzan, Grosset & Dunlap, 1915 ASIN B000WRZ2NG.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan's Quest, Grosset & Dunlop, 1936, ASIN B000O3K9EU.
-  Edgar Rice Burroughs and Masculine Narrative by Thomas F. Bertonneau
- Torgovnick, Mariana (1990). Gone Primitive. University of Chicago press. pp. 42–72. ISBN 978-0226808321.
- Gail Bederman,Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917, University of Chicago Press, 1995, pages 224-232.
- Turgovnick, Mariana “Taking Tarzan Seriously” from Gone Primitive, University of Chicago Press 1990 [Ch 2 pp.42-72]
- Violet Books: Tarzan in Israel.
- James R. Nesteby,'Tarzan of Arabia', in the Journal of Popular Culture, volume 15, number 1, 1981.
- Robert R. Barrett, Tarzan on Radio, Radio Spirits, 1999.
- Valakivi, Lahja (Finnish).
- Hutchison, Don (2007). The Great Pulp Heroes. Book Republic Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-58042-184-3.
- Lust: Or No Harm Done. Amazon.co.uk. ISBN 0312312121.
- [dead link][dead link]
- Markusen, Bruce (2009-08-14). "Cooperstown Confidential: Tarzan Joe Wallis". Hardballtimes.com. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
- King, Larry (2013-04-17). "Larry King interviews Carol Burnett". Hulu.com. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
- "Letter by E. R. Burroughs". Exlibris-art.com. 1922-02-04. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
- Annette Wannamaker and Michelle Ann Abate, eds. Global Perspectives on Tarzan: From King of the Jungle to International Icon (Routledge; 2012) 216 pages; studies by scholars from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, and France.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tarzan.|
- Official Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs Web Site
- Tarzan eBooks by Project Gutenberg
- Empire Magazine Tarzan centenary feature