Overheard on FB: “Is ERB Now Just Masturbatory Fodder for Perennial Adolescents?”


The cosplay Dejah above is a huge favorite with ERB fans–and in fact, when it was posted a few hours ago on one of the ERB Facebook sites, it picked up 73 likes in an hour or so. One of them was mine. But then someone raised the question, legitimately, and without intended insult to the lady in the cosplay Dejah outfit:

I must admit I don’t usually associate ERB and his books with bimbos with implants. Every FB group relating to the Martian books in particular seems to focus on either photos or artwork, soft porn, actually, especially regarding Dejah Thoris. Can’t recall seeing any discussion about the actual books, or author. Are they passe? Why can’t you find them in the bookstores? Has anyone re-read any of the books in the recent past? Do they still resonate and inspire? Might as well just Google “Tits.”

To which another erbolocutor replied:

You’ve stated beautifully what I’ve been thinking for some time now. Is ERB now just masturbatory fodder for perennial adolescents?

Followed by a third who noted:

But its better to start a thread like that by posting same, not putting it in the replies to another thread. AFAIK there are no restrictions on starting threads…


When, exactly, did the boob fixation begin in ERB art?

If you do a rollcall of ERB artisrts, starting from the earliest ones, you can pretty much roll through Schoonover, St. John, John Coleman Burroughs, all the way up through Abbett and Krenkel without reaching the point where boobs an voluptuousness become the focus. Was it Frazetta who started it?   Actually for me, Frazetta definitely injected a note of sensuality that had not been there previously — but I”m not sure I would pin the transformation fo the art genre on him.

Anyway ….it’s something to think about.

Do I really object to it?

Not exactly.

But my favorite ERB art is not the ones that dwell on cleavage.


  • I’ve left a few ERB groups behind because of the sexual fixations and a seeming lack of interest in the works of ERB.
    The artwork and photography are always nice but, at some point these kids need to read a book.

  • I read ERB all the time as a kid- and his work is NOT the pornographic extravaganza these punks seem to think it is. What attracted me to Burroughs was not nude chicks or wild sex (because there was none!) but the adventures and excitement. The nudity portrayed by ERB is the nudity of naturalness and innocence- a remnant of a time when our culture was NOT so sex obsessed.

    As far as re-reading ERB- I am in the middle of the Gods of mars- intent on re-reading the Barsoom books by Christmas.

  • I’ve already lost comments twice on this page! Long story short: hate, hate, hate pin-ups softcore of my fantasy characters, Dejah, or superheroines alike. When I saw you relayed this photo I was like “Noooooooooooooo (nod to Star Wars fans), noooo Dotar, not you!!!!”. There are much better dignified Dejah cosplays, notably by Allegriana and Jay Justice. I find this one tasteless (and in another context, I”m as fond of naked women as the next guy).

    Unfortunately, as Phil Normand said, ERB pages are flooded with those supposedly Dejahs that have nothing to do with the character, just nude chicks with a sword with the words Dejah Thoris written underneath, with the alibi that “ERB wrote her that way”, which is, to me, completely wrong, and would deserve its own topic. I cut down my “favorite” ERB page on Facebook down to just because of that. Hate “masturbatory fodder”.

  • hmmm.

    There are a lot of factors to consider here. The most beautiful woman on two planets, if imagined by the western mind, would have to be a woman with attractive proportions – kind of Barbie on steroids (unless JC has radically different ideas of beauty; take a look at an image of the 1921 Miss America contestants (could this be what Burroughs had in mind when he imagined Dejah?) http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2011/miss_america/miss_america_01.jpg

    The more important questions raised, so far as I’m concerned, is the very notion that ERB might be “passe”.

    The answer has to be a resounding “no”, at least insofar has his influence is concerned; Superman was a reversal of JC (as if we were the Martians); half our media are now comprised of iterations that derive, in no small way, from ERB’s creations.

  • Sadly, I have to agree with the sentiment. Every time I see an awkward drawing of a naked woman with a spear in her hand labeled “Dian the Beautiful” I have to cringe. Even the good artists do the same thing. Most of these kinds of drawing are nothing more than pin-ups. Pin-ups are fine from time to time, but there is an inordinate amount of space given to them on many “ERB” related FB pages. Yeah, call me a fuddy-duddy, but I’d like to see some real scenes from the books, or a deeper kind of discussion from time to time. And as much as I really do like Frazetta, many of his “fans” have simply appropriated the most prurient of his images and distorted or overemphasized the sexual elements with little regard for the technique, lighting, action or characterization. The best of the professional artists manage to stay away from this kind of simplification and give us illustrations with composition, action and drama. And much better proportions in their female figures.

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