The first John Carter book I ever read was The Gods of Mars Barsoom 2. Like my first encounter with Tolkien (The Two Towers), I was thrown into a storThe first John Carter book I ever read was The Gods of Mars Barsoom 2. Like my first encounter with Tolkien (The Two Towers), I was thrown into a story whose beginning I didn't know, and was initially far out to sea. Unlike Tolkien, however, you don't really need to know what's come before to enjoy what's happening now. I wanted to know who Tars Tarkas or (the incomparable) Dejah Thoris was, of course, but Carter's struggle against the Holy Therns and the Black Pirates took center stage.
And I've never read any of the Tarzan, Pellucidar or Venus novels or any of the other fantastical worlds Burroughs could create.
What drew me to John Carter was the image of Mars ERB created: An ancient, dying civilization populated by a menagerie of interesting people and beasts. At age 10, it combined my two passions at the time - astronomy and fantasy.
(Sigh) I would reread my dog-eared copies of the series over the years but less and less frequently. As I grew older (note, not more mature necessarily), it became less and less of a pleasure. The three stars that accompany the Burroughs on my shelf are largely nostalgic stars, not based on the quality of the stories.
However, I was interested when I saw at the SF Book Club site that Dark Horse Archives had put together a collection of John Carter comics adapted in the 1950s and illustrated by Jesse Marsh, and when a sale came around I decided to get the volume. It wasn't a very wise choice.
The adaptation is primitive, and the artwork is ugly. Perhaps someone better acquainted with the aesthetics of comic-book art could appreciate Marsh's work more, but for me, it wasn't very good. The best drawn character was Thuvia. (Dejah Thoris is drawn with a hairdo that rivals Princess Leia's from the first Star Wars for absurdity).
The abridged narrative also drives home just what a useless piece of eye candy Dejah Thoris is. Sheesh, other than the bodacious bod, what can Carter possibly see in her?
BONUS OFFENSIVE QUOTE: Though Burroughs was not the most progressive, racially sensitive author by any light*, I don't recall he was quite as explicit about Anglo-Saxon superiority as this quote from the comic: "Please release me, O mighty white man!" (Of course, it's been decades since I've read The Gods of Mars.)
* Let's remember that Carter was a Virginian and had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War (I think he reached a captain's rank)!...more
How to review The Book of Genesis, the first book of the holiest scriptures of two of the world’s great monotheist religions, and honored by its thirdHow to review The Book of Genesis, the first book of the holiest scriptures of two of the world’s great monotheist religions, and honored by its third?
Well, I’m not. Not directly, at any rate. For believers the text is so weighted with allegory and prefigurations of future events that to look at it as a piece of literature or art is very nearly blasphemy. At the least, it’s of decidedly secondary importance to the book’s theological significance. And to nonbelievers, they just shake their heads at the absurdities or hold it in the same respect they might the Greek or Indian myths.
As an apostate Catholic, I’ve always enjoyed Genesis as a source for those fringe movements (like Theosophy or Zecharia Sitchin) that see Atlantis and ETs manipulating humans for their own ends. That and for the historical/anthropological insights the stories give on the ancient Middle East.
So does R. Crumb’s illustrated version add anything to the long tradition of biblical interpretation? I would say “yes.”
In a period where people are increasingly reliant on visual and aural cues as opposed to the straight texts my generation and earlier ones were raised on, Crumb brings these tired, old scriptures to life. Even the notorious “begats” come off the page vividly. For example, in Chapter 5 (which recounts the descendants of Seth) each generation is illustrated with a picture of family life – Enosh sitting on Seth’s lap as the family enjoys a meal; Enosh walking with Kenan and a wife or daughter; Kenan teaching his sons about plant lore; Mahalalel and his wives and daughters bathing Jared; Jared toiling in the fields with Enoch; Enoch stargazing with Methuselah; and Methusaleh nearly leaping for joy at the birth of Lamech. There are similar, subtle touches throughout the book – In Chapter 38, there’s a panel showing Judah playing the old finger-pulling game with the infant Er, one of his sons. And a bit later, when Judah sees Tamar sitting by the side of the road dressed as a harlot, he and one of his shepherds nudge elbows and leer, “heh, heh, heh.”
Crumb also lets the text speak for itself – there are no moralizing subheads only chapter divisions, and only a minimum of footnoting, most of which explains the meanings of Hebrew names (e.g., “Succoth” = “sheds”). At the back there is an idiosyncratic commentary where Crumb offers his opinions about passages that particularly intrigued him but they’re not required reading and take up only 8 pages.
For me, what comes across is a marvelously illustrated version of the Hebrew origin myth. Stripped of its religious baggage, there’s little here to interest anyone but the historian/archaeologist/anthropologist/mythologist. Certainly there’re no moral guidelines offered, nor any social ones that I’d care to emulate - do I want to worship a god of such volatile humors and ill temper (e.g., the Flood) or live in a world where women are burned for extramarital sex (e.g., Tamar)? But it does make Genesis readable to a whole new generation. ...more
If you're at all interested in maps/cartography and/or how Western Europeans viewed their world this is an interesting reference (as well as a collectIf you're at all interested in maps/cartography and/or how Western Europeans viewed their world this is an interesting reference (as well as a collection of beautiful artworks)....more
"Ancient" is loosely defined here since much of the photography sites depicted are Medieval and later but that doesn't detract from the beauty of the"Ancient" is loosely defined here since much of the photography sites depicted are Medieval and later but that doesn't detract from the beauty of the land and the art the Celts produced....more