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Tandra Page 1518, Edgar Rice Burroughs

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I’m sitting on my back porch looking out over the yard as the rising sun brightens the Eastern sky.

It may be difficult to believe for Americans today, but a hundred years past author Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, was a very big deal indeed. At age forty five, Burroughs was a failure with a family to support and no viable prospects. While checking out Pulp Magazines to verify the ads the company he worked for had their displays in the pulps for which they had contracted, Burroughs began reading some of the stories there in and, according to his own account, he decided he could write trash that was just as bad as the stories appearing in the pulps, so he wrote and submitted “Under The Moons Of Mars” that was published with the title “A Princess Of Mars” and a career was launched.

Burroughs’ second story was “Tarzan Of The Apes” and an empire was ignited. Burroughs wrote two dozen Tarzan books. The tales eventually descended into formula, but the formula remained entertaining, if predictable. On the other hand, some of the Tarzan stories remain inventive and original even a century later. Burroughs’ Tarzan was no illiterate bumpkin bullied about by his wife. His Tarzan is a wealthy English Lord fluent in a dozen languages and owner of an African Estate and palatial British Digs.

Burroughs was not content to confine Tarzan within the covers of pulp magazines and hardbound books. Burroughs marketed Tarzan to daily newspaper installments, movies, radio shows, comic strips and books, school supplies and a host of other licensing opportunities. Edgar Rice Burroughs was the first author to incorporate himself and one of the first to become his own publisher. Edgar Rice Burroughs, a failure at age forty-five, became an economic force to be reckoned with.

And Edgar Rice Burroughs did one thing more. He inspired a host of imitators. Nameless authors made fortunes for themselves by writing copies of Burroughs’ tales. Whole industries were born and thrived off the empire that Burroughs built. Conan, by Robert E. Howard is Tarzan in a mythical pre-history. And Conan is only one of, and the most famous, of the Tarzan copies.

But Burroughs died in the early Fifties and his empire was left to a caretaker accountant who was content to arrive at the office each morning, deposit the royalty checks and nap the remainder of the day. The Burroughs Legacy withered on the vine.

With the copyright to Burroughs Properties set to expire and all Burroughs Properties set to fall into public domain, the Burroughs Heirs hired Attorney Robert Hodes to secure their ownership of Burroughs Properties. Bob Hodes did this by registering Tarzan and other Property titles as trademarks. Trademarks do not expire. Hodes also began a massive promotion campaign for Burroughs properties with the consequence that Burroughs’ titles saturated the market in the Sixties.

But Burroughs daughter, who was living in Europe and who was the absolute owner of Burroughs Properties, became convinced that Robert Hodes was attempting to take over from her and she flew back to Tarzana CA and fired Bob Hodes. Since that time, Burroughs properties have again vanished from the marketplace and Tarzan has again become unknown to most of the world.

Could interest in Tarzan and other Burroughs properties be revived? Of course, but to do so will require the services of someone willing to do more than come into the office and process the occasional royalty check.

“Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” -Thomas Jefferson


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