by Andrew Stanton, Director of “John Carter”
‘John Carter’: A devoted fan chronicles his own martian fascination
In the late 1970’s, when I was still a wide-eyed kid watching TV series like “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Space: 1999,” as well as movies like “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” and the early James Bond entries at the cinema, a very good buddy of mine visited me one day. With a knowing smile, he lifted a set of well-worn books from his school bag. I must’ve been around 12 years old at the time, with testosterone, fears and dreams kicking on overdrive. My buddy was 14, and he’d already turned me on to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” But how on Earth could the Tarzan author’s pulpy sci-fi fantasy series even dream to compete with Tolkien’s mastery?
Well, it rocked my world. Maybe it wasn’t as cultured or finely tuned as Tolkien’s, but I’m telling you: I’m still reeling from the experience, at the age of 45. If you love fantasy, pulp sci-fi and yarns crammed with all kinds of derring-do and swashbuckling, these books have it all – and then some. As I browsed through the elegant cover illustrations, I was instantly hooked by their Space Gothic imagery. Most importantly of all, the imagery spoke to me on a deeply personal and atavistic level. I was gawking at half-naked male warriors fighting to save voluptuous damsels in distress, Mad Scientists surrounded by bizarre contraptions, black-hued villains with ivory-toothed leers and fiendish noblemen wearing bright yellow hairpieces, all of them plotting to eliminate the main hero. Somehow, I knew instantly that I also wanted to co-habit that most elusive of alien worlds, Barsoom, the “Mars That Never Was.”