That Other Jane and Carrot Top: Tarzan Lands at SDCC 2012

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Literature, Movies, San Diego Comic Con, Television, Travel

For all you poor mooks whom did not make it to San Diego Comic-Con 2012, or did and possibly lost, tossed or neglected your coveted Official Souvenir Book, unaware of the gems contained therein, I feel sad that you missed out on author Jennifer Susannah Devore’s Tarzan article. You should feel bad; it was good enough to garner Miss Jenny a personal invitation to meet the one, the only Dr. Jane Goodall! Where? A banquet in Tarzana, of course! No worries, jelly beans! There’s still time to mend your silly ways.

Swing on over, grab a Sailor Jerry Banana Hammock and read Jenny’s article here!

Steampunk Jane and her Carrot Top Tarzan, Lord of the Props Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

 

That Other Jane, reprinted with JennyPop’s very own permission, from the 2012 Official Comic-Con Souvenir Book

(Special thanks, again, to Gary Sassaman, Director of Print and Publications Comic-Con International: San Diego)

 

That Other Jane: 100 Years of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, Heartbreaker

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

I was so jealous. I thought she was a wimp. I was sure I’d have been a better mate.

                                                                                                             -that other Jane … Goodall

Herein lies the innate appeal of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Be he an object of affection, admiration or competition, Tarzan falls neatly into the untidy world of animal instinct, feral existentialism and personal authority: a Lord Greystoke of the Flies, if you will.

Burroughs composed an enduring theme and a permanence of characters spawning not only a succession of film and television iterations, but also serial books and eventually comics, penned not by Burroughs himself, but a veritable jungle encampment of devotees. From Dell Comics’ cheerful adventure yarns of the 1940s, which featured a ripped, yet stick-thin version of Tarzan, to Psychology Press’ Ways of Being Male: representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film by John Stephens to George of the Jungle, Tarzan has been a centenary of topic. Scholars may argue a garden of reasons why the jungle Brit in the loincloth has remained ever so popular; but the reader’s heartbeat will tell you unequivocally there exists solely one answer. Stimulation.

Certainly, the sight of a well-sculpted, 1930s Johnny Weissmuller slicing into a sheath of river or even the hot, animated Disney Tarzan of 1999 swinging on a vine (Watch out for that treeeeee!), brings a swoon to many a fan, just as Captain Jack Sparrow, Indiana Jones or Han Solo does. Be not fooled, it is not simply the silky hair flop, the cheekbones and the swagger (uh – well, it kind of is). It is primarily what brings about said-swagger and the flip of that flop which oft has a nuclear power to melt its unsuspecting, doe-eyed victims like wax. It is the hero’s confidence, fearlessness and willingness to machete his way through the jungles and bridge the rivers, only to pop back to the surface victorious and, even if a bit broken, durable enough to shake off the snakes, the leeches and the authorities to forge ahead.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, born of Mid-western stubbornness and raised on Western ruggedness weathered the literal, as well as figurative, frontier realities of a changing America at the turn of the 20th Century. The son of a Civil War veteran and a protective yet yielding mother of six boys, two having died as infants, Edgar was the youngest of a large and prosperous family prone to enterprise, exploits and chance. From Chicago business ventures to Idaho gold dredging and cattle ranching, a young Edgar saw a world of possibilities; he certainly recognized his growing America was whatever a man wanted it to be. After a smattering and sampling of job-jobs like railway security, clerical manager, door-to-door salesman, pencil sharpener wholesaler, ditch digger and accountant, amongst others, Edgar found his future in the fertile pages of pulp fiction.

Burroughs would state later that if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines that I could write stories just as rotten. This was in the same spirit as, Mark Twain, claiming some thirty years previous and Hunter S. Thompson claiming some eighty years after Twain, that a lot of folks make an awful lot of money writing some really awful schlock. It appears the unifying theme was, hopefully, they might be equally as fortunate. Mark Twain summed it up best when he prognosticated about Huckleberry Finn, They have expelled this from their library as, quote, trash and suitable only for the slums! That will sell 25,000 copies for us, sure.

Screaming through his tales, like Carol Burnett’s clear-as-a-bell Tarzan yell, Burroughs’ Wanderlust and spirit for adrenaline ripped through his tales of pirates, jungles, space, cavemen, dinosaurs and, lest we forget, The Land that Time Forgot. Over the decades of his long and successful life, Tarzan would be his Goose That Laid the Golden Egg. If Tarzan book money was good, Tarzan film money was out of this world.

The first celluloid representation was Tarzan of the Apes (1918) starring Elmo Lincoln as the silent hero. Whilst this iteration would follow most closely the events of the original novel, it was Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) that would explode out of the water like a surfacing submarine to penetrate pop culture. It would give us not only a taut and toned Olympic gold medallist swimmer named Johnny Weissmuller but also, as the first Tarzan film with sound, that iconic Tarzan yell which many will cringingly attempt. Raise your hand if you never tried it while swinging from the monkey bars on the playground.

As they often do, successful writer/film types take those sawbucks and buy Hollywood ranches, Palm Desert compounds, Caribbean islands or spooky manses in the Maine woods. Burroughs bought a sprawling one of the former just north of H-town. As a testament to the zeitgeist in 1923, the residents and citizens of the L.A. suburb burgeoning around his ranch, voted to incorporate as the town of Tarzana. Just five years previous, he had already incorporated himself: a savvy and uncommon move for a writer of this era.

Adventurous in word as well as deed to the end, Burroughs served as a WWII correspondent in Hawaii, embedded with U.S. Air Force bombers and even crossing paths with his equally unflappable son, Hulbert, a war photographer. After the war, he returned to the sunny jungle of Tinsel Town. Passing away in 1950, he would miss the continuing success of Tarzan throughout the Fifties via comic books and reprints of his novels and serials. He would also miss out on the explosive rebirth of his chef d’oeuvres as the Sixties would bring Tarzan the television series and a paperback book smash that introduced “Me Tarzan, you Jane”, their son, Boy, and a charming chimp named Cheeta to a whole new generation of restless rowdies ready for anything that wasn’t suburbia.

“It was somewhere between ten and eleven that I read Tarzan and decided I would go to Africa, live with animals and write books about them,” Dr. Jane Goodall, founder and mentor of the Jane Goodall Institute, recounts in a 60 Minutes interview. One-hundred years after the initial October 1912 publication of Tarzan of the Apes in All-Story magazine, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations match, if not absolutely mirror, mankind’s quest for self, sufficiency, survival and stimulation … well, and the cheekbones.

From creatures At The Earth’s Core, to a Martian Princess to the Lord of the Jungle, from The Cave Girl to The Girl From Hollywood to The Mucker and Pirates From Venus, Burroughs proffers vicarious pleasures and fantasy to the desk-bound, the cubicle-trapped and the homebodies of the planet. Simultaneously, he gives hope, inspiration and itineraries to the modern-day travelers and dreamers of the world.

Wanderlust is just ein deutsch Wort away from lust. Adventure-lit hits all the right buttons. Burroughs and Tarzan sliced their own paths, just like Captain Jack, Han Solo, Grizzly Adams and each real-life Indiana Jones throughout modern history, including the likes of Margaret Mead, Diane Fossey, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, Jacques Cousteau, John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh, Sally Ride, Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom, Valentina Tereshkova, Admiral Richard Byrd, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Edmund Hillary, Amelia Earhart, all the Monkeynauts and, finally … that other Jane.

In an October 2010 CBS 60 Minutes interview, reporter Lara Logan asked Dr. Jane Goodall: Why Africa? Dr. Jane replied: Because of reading Doctor Dolittle and Tarzan. Doctor Dolittle rescues animals from the circus and takes them back to Africa. And then, Tarzan, of course. The Lord of the Jungle.

Then the subject of Jane Porter, Tarzan’s girl, arose. In a statement soaked with decades of irritation and disgust, Dr. Jane exclaimed: I was passionately in love. He marries that other, stupid Jane. I think I’d have been the perfect mate for Tarzan, don’t you?

While today we’re bombarded with everyone else’s imagination, it’s satisfying to recall an era when we worked our own, fueled simply by Burroughs’ words … and, at least in Jane’s case, the loincloth. Now that’s what I call stimulation.

Jennifer S. Devore w James Sullos, Jr. (left/president of ERB, Inc.) and Tarzan author, Tracy Griffin (right) plus a special invitation to meet Dr. Jane Goodall herself in Tarzana! Photo: JSDevore SDCC 2012

 

Author bio: Jennifer Susannah Devore authors the historical-fiction series Savannah of Williamsburg, as well as the contemporary The Darlings of Orange County. She is a regular contributor to GoodtobeaGeek.com under the pseudonym Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado; her tribute to the 60th anniversary of Peanuts was published in the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book She lives on a San Diego beach with her husband, a Pomeranian and an immortal cat she believes is Binx from Hocus Pocus.

 

Abyssinia, cats! maybe miss jenny will tell us all how the banquet with Dr. Goodall goes!

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? @JennyPopNet   jennypop.net   amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore 

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Tarzan, Peanuts and Cocktails with Boba and Darth

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Category : Comics, Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Cheers, babies! It’s me, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado and it’s June! You know what that means? Summer is mere days away and San Diego Comic-Con is a mere month away!

If you think comic dorks can't party, you'd be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

If you think comic dorks can’t party, you’d be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

No one is more excited than yours truly … well, okay. I imagine there are some nibbling their fingernails a tad more than I. After all, part of the appeal of our Comic-Con is that it’s in glorious San Diego. I get to live here year round, kids, haunting my dilly of a Hotel Del. If you’re zinging your way here for the Con and it’s your first time in San Diego, we welcome you, one and all! Need some priceless, insider tips on all the SDCC how-tos? Check the SDCC Expert for Baby’s First Comic-Con.

Yep, ’tis no place in Cali quite like San Diego. Even the dearly departed Godfather of Comic Books, Richard Alf, knew that! Sunnier than San Francisco, cheaper than Santa Barbara, friendlier than L.A. and cleaner than Anaheim, why wouldn’t we welcome the world? Whilst you’re in town, may I heartily suggest Nerdcore Night at famed The Ruby Room in Hillcrest?

If you’re still looking for a hotel, I feel true pity, ya mooks. Whilst an average $560.00-$730.00/night seems lofty at my Hotel del Coronado, it’s a regal steal compared to some of the fleabag dumps near the airport: real slimy, 1-star m-m-m-motels charging upwards of $569.00/night during the week of SDCC!!! That should be criminal. It’s easily extortion and trust me, I lived in Beantown during Prohibition. I know all about mob behavior. If you have a room at all, huzzah for you!

Costume update, by the by: Dr. Lucy and I are pretty much all set. We’ve decided on a steampunk theme; she twisted my fragile ghost arms. She shall be the lovely and vivacious Lucy Westenra of Coppola’s Dracula. Moi? Lady Euphemia Greystoke of Stonington: traveller and archaeologist extraordinaire. I’ve found my 1920s, Cleopatra, chainmail headpiece and Lucy has been mending and modernizing some of her fine Victorian skirts. We are both in grave need of goggles, though. A very serious issue.

In celebration of the upcoming convention, I thought it would be fun to share an article from the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book. Written by my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, it’s a contemplative and philosophical look at Charles Schulz and the then-60th anniversary of Peanuts. (As a side note, Jenny’s just learned she’s being published once again in this year’s 2012 Souvenir Book with an retrospective of 100 years of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs and a nod to Dr. Jane Goodall … zowie, does that gorilla girl hold a grudge!

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

The First Beagle on the Moon

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

(Reprinted from the 2010 official Comic-Con Souvenir Book)

 

I think I could learn to love you, Judy, if your batting average was a little higher.

-”Just Keep Laughing”, pre-Peanuts Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz did not create a mere comic strip, a cast of characters to be listed on high school drama department playbills for eons to come; like all sustainable strips, the Writer-Artist-Creator gave us a neighborhood: a safe place where loyalty, security, friendship and a comfortable sense of continuity and familiarity are still unfailingly there for us. The Peanuts gang has been that other group of our friends, always ready to hang with us at a moment’s notice and at regularly scheduled mornings, especially Sundays. Similar to Shakespearean figures, the Peanuts gang has also been, as any psychologist with an ounce of humor and levity will tell you, a microcosm of humanity. A bevy of neuroses, borderline personalities, leaders and followers, Schulz, like the good Bard, nailed it all straight on the round-headed noggin. The psychology of Peanuts, not to drain the comic pool only to replace it with academia, pervades each and every “illustrated laughing square”.

No doubt, the young Schulz did not set out to create a controlled study of freckled subjects and lab beagles with sunglasses and tennis rackets; nevertheless, he did and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Psych 101 textbook without some reference to Charlie Brown’s martyrdom syndrome or Lucy’s narcissism. Blah, blah, blah, the kind reader may mock, but it is real humanity that is inherent in these characters. It is the nucleus of its success. The psychological endgame matters because in the beginning, and eventually that end, all creators start from the premises of what is known and, more importantly, what is felt.

If writer-artists give us some clue as to their failings, fears and fantasies within their oeuvres, then sports (baseball in particular) girls (darned, elusive redheads), loyalty and honor (Snoopy always comes through despite his egotism) were clearly on Sparky’s short-list. Charlie Brown’s undying dedication to his ball team, his tenacity and faith amidst rained-out games, Lucy’s “The sun was in my eyes”-excuses and dozing beagles-at-bat is a fortitude so many desire, yet oft do not posses.

The stomach-churning inner diatribes and teeth-grinding insecurity is thankfully, cathartically played out on-stage, as it were, in Charlie Brown’s (and Charlie Schulz’) quest for the affection of a little red-haired girl, even going so far as addressing the very adult, very 3-D distrust and heartache of jealousy, that love has been taken by a best friend: Linus, to wit, in It’s Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown. Charles Schulz’ real-life and nonreciprocal marriage proposal marks the launching pad of Charlie Brown’s everlasting expedition of unrequited and, despondently, un-returned love.

The fear of not being accepted, of not belonging is universally shared, regardless of what the aesthetics and sartorial effects may try to loudly declare. Searching the mailbox for that proverbial Halloween party invitation, learning it was a mistake, then going anyway is a Trick-or-Treat bag fraught with snakes and evil clowns: What if I’m not on The List? What if I am on The List? Who will talk to me? What if I’m left all alone? What if they make fun of my costume?

The fear of not receiving a single Valentine in class, and in front of everybody no less, the dread of an empty mailbox and heart at Christmastime, the cold, autumnal loneliness of being the only one whom truly believes in the Great Pumpkin; these comic worries are so real that the chest-pounding is audible, the butterflies are so visceral we can only cringe and endure, waiting nervously for the certain, happy ending. Sadly, it is not always so certain, though. The ending of Snoopy, Come Home is so gut-wrenchingly awful that it is suffered through only because of our own, Charlie Browniest belief that everything will be okay. It is not, in the case of said film. There is no good outcome, there cannot be; everybody loses, big time. To that end, everybody has heart and soul that trudges forth no matter what. This is why we continue to love, adore and cherish our Peanuts gang.

Be it Snoopy’s devotion to Lila, the dying girl, in Snoopy, Come Home, Snoopy’s devotion to his supper dish, Linus’ unrelenting conviction for the Great Pumpkin and, deeper still, Sally’s dedication to Linus and his mission, it is all so human, so carbon-based. Family or friends, it matters not with Peanuts. As is often the case in real-time, digital worlds or the land of ink-and-watercolor, friends are often family, and family, good friends. The Browns and the Van Pelts are core, bound by blood; but that is not pivotal, being bound by blood. Snoopy and Woodstock, Charlie Brown and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Lucy and herself, Schroeder and his Piano, Sally and her Easter shoes and her Sweet Baboo: these are the real bonds, the vital relationships that keep Peanuts going year after sixty years.

In the vein of a youthful William Shakespeare, Matt Groening or Seth MacFarlane whom all wrote of the communities they knew, the people and their foibles they shouldered through life, good and bad, lovely and horrid, Charles M. Schulz presented us with pencil and ink versions of ourselves: our ids, egos, superegos and alter egos. He gave us characters and friends upon whom we knew we could count through any rained out game, school exam or major holiday, even when It’s Presidents’ Day, Charlie Brown.

Above all, there is honor. Consider that, akin to so much great “children’s” literature, young-adult fiction, superhero tales, classic fairy tales, adapted fairy tales, graphic novels, comic strips and animated series there exists no ethical enforcement, save one’s own internal gauge and moral compass. It is universal, from Cinderella and Snow White to Snoopy and Spongebob Squarepants, that parents are either handily out-of-frame or conveniently ineffective; adults of any walk and educators of every sort are primarily a concept and rarely given a name, a face or, in Peanuts’ case, even a voice. Law enforcement is a rare impression lest it appears in an almost supernatural state of purity and perfection, like Scully and Mulder or Police Commissioner Gordon. The heroes cannot get away from themselves and must answer to their own merit of principle. There are no citations, no court dates, no weekend restrictions or media groundings. There is no law, no order, only the inner voice and scruples of the very good and, where it relates to our Peanuts, the very, very admirable and steadfast fraternity of fast and eternal friendship. The lasting appeal of Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz is that they are us. As Lucy states so wisely, “Charlie Brown, of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest!”

The Charlies and we are in the vital and primitive hunt for love, camaraderie and faithfulness. They and we are scared to death that nothing will happen and equally so that everything will. The round-headed kid, the barber’s son and we are all optimistic to a fault, likened to Spongebob in our unending and Bikini Bottom-deep belief that everything and everyone will be just fine. They and we are all flawed superheroes, or at the very least, we strive to be.

(A special thanks to Gary Sassaman, Director of Print and Publications Comic-Con International: San Diego)

 

Abyssinia on the Con floor, cats!

Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? JennyPop.net jenniferdevore.blogspot.com & @JennyPopNet

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