At least in the United States, we’re being barraged by advertisements for a new movie to be released on
Mars March 9, John Carter.
What is not so widely known is that John Carter was a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (also the author of numerous Tarzan books) in a 1917 classic pulp novel entitled A Princess of Mars.
The John Carter series was an acknowledged inspiration for authors such as Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. Ray Bradbury used them as inspiration for The Martian Chronicles. George Lucas named the Banthas in Star Wars after Burroughs’ Banths in the John Carter books.
Ray Bradbury said, “By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special,” he said. “I’ve talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon.”
Many of the John Carter books were collections of short stories that Burroughs wrote and published featuring the characters and setting.
Burroughs was very savvy about the business side of writing. He was the first author to incorporate himself, doing so in 1923. He was also a big indie author, publishing all his books under his own imprint after 1931.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., is still in operation, located in Tarzana, California. (Yes, the city was named after Tarzan. Only in California.) A Princess of Mars was licensed by Disney from the corporation as a basis for the John Carter movie. Disney also licensed two other Burroughs books for a possible John Carter trilogy. Here’s a link to more about the corporation.
Author Michael Crichton also read Burroughs’ John Carter stories as a boy. Crichton gave the name John Carter to the Noah Wyle character in the television series, ER, in a tribute to Burroughs’ books.
For Joseph Campbell Monomyth fans, the first John Carter movie is supposedly the Call to Adventure .
“This first stage of the mythological journey—which we have designated the ‘call to adventure’—signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father’s city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur; or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent as was Odysseus, driven about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god, Poseidon. The adventure may begin as a mere blunder … or still again, one may be only casually strolling when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man. Examples might be multiplied, ad infinitum, from every corner of the world.”
Here’s a link to John Carter Books on Amazon.