Sunday, March 05, 2017

A treat for Tarzan fans

I hope you'll forgive this temporary diversion into American comics but there is a slight British connection if you'll bear with me. Also, I think these books are worth plugging regardless of their country of origin.

If, like me, you bought the occasional UK Tarzan comic in the 1970s published by Top Sellers, you'll know that they reprinted the American Gold Key Tarzan comics, which were usually drawn by Russ Manning. However, they later reprinted stories by Jesse Marsh from the Dell Tarzan comics. At the time I didn't know that the Marsh strips were from the 1940s/50s, just that they looked "old". Not that it was a bad thing. I actually preferred Marsh's work to Manning's slicker style. 

Now, Dark Horse Comics in America have just published Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Omnibus Volume 1, - and it's a huge brick of a book! A walloping 700 pages, reprinting 18 Tarzan comics that were published by Dell from 1947 to 1950, including covers and feature pages. 

You must be thinking that's quite a hefty and cumbersome book? Not at all, because it's softback and printed on a nice matt paper that isn't as heavy as the glossy stock used in many archives like this. In fact, the look and texture of the paper is very similar to that used in those Top Sellers reprints of 45 years ago, and even the ink smells like it did in those old comics. 

The strips have been scanned from the comics and restored, so we get the original linework and colours preserved. None of that nonsense of redrawing and garishly recolouring the pages like Marvel used to do with theirs. (I only wish Dark Horse had used this method for their Crime Does Not Pay volumes.)

The artwork of Jesse Marsh may seem crude or simplistic to some comic fans, but his style has inspired artists from Alex Toth to Los Bros Hernandez. This is really good stuff, and at a reasonable price too. 

If you prefer slightly more contemporary Tarzan artwork then Dark Horse have another collection that may interest you. Tarzan: The Complete Joe Kubert Years is a done-in-one book featuring all the Tarzan strips that Joe wrote/drew for DC Comics in the 1970s. Over 600 pages, and on glossier, heavier paper stock than the Jesse Marsh book, it contains some of Kubert's best work of the period. 



Both of these books are out now, at $29.99 each, and can be ordered from online booksellers or bought/ordered at your local comic shop. 

Going back to the old Top Sellers comics I mentioned earlier, I did a blog post about them a few years ago which you can find at this link:
https://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-comics-that-were-always-top-sellers.html

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love tthe art on these. They really look good however I bet its annoying having some of the artwork hidden in the binding!

qamar

Lew Stringer said...

It's not too hidden. I didn't flatten it down too much for the photos but it's all readable.

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