Development of an Edgar Rice Burroughs Fan

Tarzan, The Tarzan Files

Paul Mallinson contributed this to the ERBCOF email group and was kind enough to allow us to share it here on John Carter Files.  Paul attended last week’s ERB Centennial Dum Dum Celebration in Los Angeles.

Development of an ERB Fan

Paul Mallinson

I spent my formative years in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom which is located approximately midway between Leeds and Manchester and 190 miles north of London. Huddersfield is known for its role in the Industrial Revolution (having a strong history in textiles) and for being the birthplace of rugby league and the late British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. So, how did I become interested in the American author Edgar Rice Burroughs to the point that I wanted to attend a convention in Los Angeles over 5000 miles from home? Basically, my interest has developed in a number of key stages.
My initial contact with the world of ERB (as with so many people) was comics. I can remember acquiring my first Tarzan comic which was issue #14 of the series published by Williams Publishing in the UK during the 1970s.

I was aged 6 on a family seaside holiday at a small resort called Filey on the east coast of Yorkshire (between Scarborough and Bridlington). I went to the newsagent with my father to buy his daily newspaper and saw this Tarzan comic on the shelf. There must have been something about it that caught my attention as my father bought it for me (little knowing what he was starting) and, although I don’t fully recall this, I sat and read this comic over and over again for the rest of the day. The next morning it was back to the newsagent to see if he had any more Tarzan. He had one more and when the family returned home, an order was placed with the local newsagent to deliver the comic every two weeks as it was published. This was a varied Tarzan comic – during its run it had original stories and also reprints from the likes of Lubbers, Celardo, Manning etc. There were also a number of special albums of varying sizes which were also fun to collect alongside the companion comic, Korak, Son of Tarzan.
Having made my acquaintance with Tarzan, I was alert to anything on TV and I was able to see many of the movies from Weissmuller onwards as well as some episodes of the Ron Ely TV series. However, I had still to progress beyond comics and movies.

In the early 1970s, Flamingo Books published the first four Tarzan books with Hogarth images on the covers. These were promoted in my comics and I bought a couple because they featured Tarzan but I initially found them hard to read and put them on the shelf (I was a keen reader and not short of books to read). The next key moment came one evening when I was around 11 or 12 (I think) and I was at home feeling bored. I had received Hogarth’s pictorial Tarzan of the Apes for Christmas and on realising that the text was, by necessity, abridged, I had the idea to read the original book alongside Hogarth’s pictures. Two chapters in and I was completely enraptured. The story absorbed and excited me like no other, so now I was a Burroughs reader! Over the next few years, I attempted to acquire as many Tarzan books as I could which wasn’t easy. My searches eventually led me to the British ERB Society. This was my first meeting with Burroughs fandom. Around the same time, as part of my searches, I spotted and decided to buy the New English Library publication of Warlord of Mars – hey, it was by Edgar Rice Burroughs, it would probably be good.

Beginning with the third volume in the series was a slightly confusing place to start but I enjoyed the book and suddenly any ERB book was now desirable, so before long, Pellucidar, Caspak and others were added to the collection. I even wrote to ERB Inc. asking where I could purchase books and received a nice letter signed by Danton Burroughs himself which I still have (even though the significance of the signature was lost on me at the time).

Slightly later, I became aware of the Burroughs Bibliophiles and duly subscribed, so I was now a keen reader and collector of ERB who was being made aware of other fans and events.

Another key moment was attending the convention at Greystoke in the UK in June 1997 which was organized by the British ERB Society which gave me chance to meet other fans. However, I’m not a great traveller and the USA seemed a long way away and expensive to reach, so one way and another, Dum Dum attendance continued to elude me.

Finally, at the start of this year, my wife and I were discussing holidays. She is more than aware of my Burroughs interest (as I’m sure the spouses of other Burroughs fans are) and put forward the argument that if I was ever going to attend a Dum Dum surely there could be no better year than the centenary of Tarzan. Ultimately, to keep the budget in check, I was dispatched to Los Angeles while the rest of the family set off for a week in Spain and the rest is history.

This year’s Dum Dum was a superb event and thanks are due to all the people who participated in the organization of it which enabled fans like me to enjoy it so much. Although I would love to attend every year, I think the practicalities of life will prevent this, but I certainly hope this isn’t my last Dum Dum. It has been a pleasure meeting loads of new friends and hopefully we will stay in touch.


Leave a Reply