Today is February 1, 2012 — less than six weeks to go unit Disney’s John Carter is in theaters. But instead of looking ahead, this is a moment to look back, to February 1912, one hundred years ago. That is when the name “John Carter” first appeared in print, in the February 1912 edition of All Story Magazine. The book we know as “A Princess of Mars” was published under the title “Under the Moons of Mars” in installments that began with the February edition of All Story.
An editor’s note accompanying the first installment reads:
Relative to Captain Carter’s strange story a few words, concerning his remarkable personality, are not out of place.
At the time of his demise, Captain Carter was a man of uncertain age and vast experience, honorable and abounding with true fellowship. He stood a good two inches over six feet, was broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, with the carriage of the trained fighting man. His features were regular and clear-cut, his eyes steel gray, reflecting a strong and loyal character. He was a Southerner of the highest type. He had enlisted at the outbreak of the War, fought through the four years, and had been honorably discharged. Then for more than a decade he was gone from the sight of his fellows. When he returned he had changed, there was a kind of wistful longing and hopeless misery in his eyes, and he would sit for hours at night, staring up into the starlit heavens.
His death occurred upon a winter’s night. He was discovered by the watchman of his little place on the Hudson, full length in the snow, his arms outstretched above his head toward the edge of the bluff. Death had come to him upon the spot where curious villagers had so often, on other nights, seen him standing rigid — his arms raised in supplication to the skies.
Burroughs had originally submitted the story under the pseudonym “Normal Bean” (as in, there’s nothing wrong with my head), and a “coming soon” mention of the upcoming story in the January edition of All Story referred to the author by that name — but in the February edition, a proofreader had “corrected” the pseudonym to “Norman Bean”, which irked Burroughs, who was paid $400 for the first serial publication rights.
We’ll be talking a lot more about the history of John Carter and Edgar Rice Burroughs. For now — it’s just “Happy Birthday” — and to help celebrate, here is a short video I made a few weekends ago: “John Carter: The First 100 Years”
For more details on the first publication of Under the Moons of Mars, see ; http://www.erbzine.com/mag4/0419.html