December 7, 2012

Titan Reviews: Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration

Cover art from an older Neal Adams illustration. Always a classic!

Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration
Written by:
Scott Tracy Griffin
Cover by: Neal Adams
Publisher: Titan Books

This is it, folks! This is the end all, be all, one stop depository of all things Tarzan. It’s a one volume encyclopedia. It’s a portable library of everything you could ever need to know about Tarzan! Written by Scott Tracy Griffin, who has spent nearly two decades writing comprehensively on the film industry as a freelance journalist, and is an internationally acknowledged authority on author Edgar Rice Burroughs and his literary characters, including Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, this book is the definitive collection of information on all aspects of the Tarzan franchise. In addition to his writings on the film industry, Griffin has spent thirty years writing solely on the subject of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and his expertise shines through every single page of this book!

The book starts off with a great touch. Ron Ely, who portrayed Tarzan on the NBC television series Tarzan from 1966 to 1968, offers a foreword to the book, and then Griffin offers a heartfelt author’s note before delving into giving the reader a brief history of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the era in which he lived.

To try to break this book into sections is a bit of an impossible task. Even the table of contents fails to truly explain to the reader where all of the information can be found. The first couple hundred pages of the book are seemingly dedicated to the appearance of Tarzan in traditional literature, whether it is in pulp magazines or novels. However, also listed among these literary incarnations are comparisons with film adaptations and listings from comic books, and so on and so forth. But primarily, the first two-thirds of this book are dedicated to illustrating the history of Tarzan’s literary career. The final third of the book is mostly dedicated to his appearances in film, television, comics, radio, stage plays, fan conventions, the internet, and all manner of merchandise. The author spends most of the final twenty pages or so briefly detailing the rest of Burroughs’s life and his other literary creations and achievements, as well as providing a nice list of other books to check out in case one wanted to know more.

This reviewer must admit that his favorite part of the book happens to be the visuals, which isn’t to say anything bad about the written word. It’s all rather splendid and entertaining, but throughout the book every bit of information is paired with a great piece of visual stimulation, ranging from breathtaking artwork to screenshots of films, shows, and promotional imagery. It’s all rather stunning.

And what’s probably most remarkable is that with all the information hurtling at you, it never once seems overwhelming, and there isn’t a single bit of data that ever seems redundant. Every piece of information is presented in such a way that it stays interesting and engaging.

It must seem like all that’s being done here is a great deal of praise and affection being showered over this book. That’s because it is. There isn’t a single fault to be found within the confines of this book. Now, as for the book itself, there are a few issues with the format. The book itself is gigantic. Not thick, though it’s got a lot of pages to its count. But height and width. It’s about a foot and a half tall by a foot long. Now, complaining about the size of the book might seem petty, but keep reading folks. It’s practically too damn big to fit on any normal bookshelf, and its size lends itself to being a “coffee table book,” but it’s far too precious for something like that, and far too thick to just sit about on a table in the first place. You know those odd books you stumble across in a library, too big to be shelved, so they just lay out sideways? This is one of those books. It’s huge. Now, bear in mind, that if THAT is the only complaint you’ll ever hear or read, then the book must truly be amazing!

This book is a wonderful read for fans and newcomers alike. If you have any interest at all in Tarzan, through literature, film, comics, or any combination thereof, I highly recommend you hop a jungle vine and swing on down to your nearest bookstore and buy it, or to your nearest web-enabled device and order it right away!

Aaron Nicewonger



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