Friday, May 11, 2007


Anyone who has ever read Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novels is already aware that John Carter (a Civil War captain who becomes a warlord on the Red Planet) kicks ass. Tarzan may have gotten all the glory, but John Carter was Burroughs' true masterstroke.

One of the greatest of the pulp characters, John Carter's adventures are so brilliantly insane it makes you wish magazines like WEIRD TALES were still ruling the news-stands. This is a character who, when suddenly stranded on a strange new world, goes about the business of CONQUERING THE PLANET, just because he's bored. Due to the gravity of Mars (Barsoom, to the natives), John Carter's rugged Earthling manliness makes him essentially superhuman. After proving that he is an unstoppable warrior, and killing anyone that stands in his way, he goes on to seduce the most beautiful woman on the entire world. That's the kind of fiction that puts hair on your oiled, bronzed pectorals.

As the Frank Frazetta painting above clearly illustrates, John enjoys killing giant martians with a sword, riding around on lizards, and having his way with Dejah Thoris (the titular "Princess of Mars" from the first novel).
Over the course of the series, he leads armies into battle, fights monsters bare-handed, unravels the superstitious Martian religions, and does it all naked.

Yes, naked.

His only adornments are belts that hold his many weapons, and a pair of boots. Otherwise, (despite his Southern Gentility) he is naked as a jaybird. His best friend is a four-armed, green martian giant, that is also naked. And his sexy wife? Naked. These books are so filled with violence and animal lust that people actually walk around nude, but for their swords and guns.

I like that kind of honesty in a novel.


elizabeth genco said...

You and Leland need to have a discussion about this. About a month ago it was "John Carter Warlord of Mars" this and "John Carter Warlord of Mars" that and blah blah blah... :)

Alex! said...

He gets in your brain and won't let go, that John Carter Warlord of Mars.

AWOL said...

Seriously, was there ever even an attempt to explain the nakedness?

If I recall, there wasn't even a "Mars is kinda hot" excuse.

Just naked, oiled bodies, purely because it's awesome.

Alex! said...

"I am naked and I have a sword and I kill everything in my way!"

It must be liberating, in a sociopathic kinda way...