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‘Tarzan: The New Adventures’ (review)

Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Thomas Grindberg, Gallego Benito
Published by Dark Horse Comics

 

Tarzan: The New Adventures collects for the first time the online Edgar Rice Burroughs strip that Marvel Comics legend Roy Thomas has been writing in recent years.

The book includes the first two continuities, the first with artist Tom Grindberg and the second with Spanish artist Benito Gallego.

In one of his trademark informative Intros, Roy tells us the whole thing was originally Grindberg’s idea and that his, Roy’s, contributions were done Marvel-style with the dialogue being supplied after the art was already finished.

And much of the dialogue—as anyone who has ever read a Tarzan novel might expect—is translating the Ape Man’s back and forth conversations with various jungle animals, a major necessity here.

Each strip is done up to be reminiscent of a classic Sunday color newspaper strip. As I have been currently re-reading such strips via the online newspaper archives for a different project, I can attest to the fact that Roy and Tom have captured the pacing perfectly.

I remember Tom Grindberg’s art from back in the day. He was one of a number of artists strongly inspired by the work of Neal Adams. Some of that influence is still present here, but Grindberg’s excellent work here is also reminiscent at times of Joe Kubert and John Buscema—the main artists, respectively, on DC’s and Marvel’s licensed Tarzan comic books of the 1970s. He also makes some obvious nods to Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, and perhaps even Mark Schultz and Arthur Suydam. And it all works beautifully!

In fact, the switch to Gallego for the second story is fairly jarring. Gallego is a perfectly good artist who draws very much in an old-school Marvel style, again echoing Buscema. He lacks the lushness present in Grindberg’s work, but the main issue is the coloring. There’s no colorist credit for the book so I’m going to assume each artist was responsible for his own coloring. Grindberg’s story is blessed with lovely, often subtly perfect colors, whereas the second story has lots of just solid colors with seemingly random tones throughout.

Speaking of random tones, the first story is an exciting tale of Jane (in a very strong characterization) being captured by a lost in time Helen of Troy while the popular ERB character La of Opar seeks to mate with Tarzan in her absence. The second is a pulpy tale of a female mad scientist who grafts the head and arms of a leopard onto a gorilla and then gives the creature a human heart—a gorilleopard.

Both stories in Tarzan: The New Adventures are set in the late 1940s and Roy tells the casual fan that both have ties to actual ERB novels and stories. While the second isn’t as good in my opinion, the first is very entertaining on all levels, and Roy has always been one of the best when it comes to comics dialogue.

Booksteve recommends.

 

 

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