Jungle Heroes: Part One

With Tarzan's success in 1912 through to the 30s, and onward, many writers, comic book artists and publishers have been inspired to create their own jungle heroes. Here is a look at a few of them, more or less in order of creation:

1840s

Little Savage / Frank Henniker
It's very interesting that this character predates all other jungle heroes including Mowgli and Tarzan. According to Wikipedia, the last novel written by author Captain Fredrick Marryat in 1848 before his death, The Little Savage, was completed by the author's son Francis Samuel Marryatt in 1849. This children's story is about a boy named Frank Henniker who is shipwrecked on an island and must survive until he can be rescued. The story is similar to Daniel Defoe's classic Robinson Crusoe published in 1719. Although Frank is clearly not a jungle hero and the story does not take place in a jungle, Frank does wear a loincloth with a shoulder strap and is faced with survival in an unknown land as is often the case with jungle hero stories. Additionally, like Tarzan the main character grows up on an island completely unaware of the existence of civilization, and the story involves pirates.

The Classics Illustrated comic book series issue No. 137, "The Little Savage" was published in 1957 and features a young man who looks very much like Bomba the Jungle Boy, as seen on the covers of the original Bomba series books from the 1920s. (See the Bomba section below for more info) A movie titled "The Little Savage" with a similar teenage jungle boy character was produced in 1959, though I do not know if the movie was based on the original story.


1890s

Mowgli
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book was published in 1894, a considerable 18 years before Edgar Rice Burroughs would publish Tarzan of the Apes. Mowgli then, is the only popular jungle hero character to pre-date Tarzan. As of 2012 Mowgli and the Jungle Book are 118 years old. There are several similaries between Mowgli and Tarzan, the main one being that they are both children who were lost in the jungle to be raised by wild animals. Mowgli's story however takes place when he was still a boy, and later a teenager, while Tarzan's story skips over his childhood to focus on this adventures as a young adult. Both characters also earned themselves similar titles. In the second jungle book, Mowgli became "Master of the Jungle" while Tarzan became "Lord of the Jungle".

Here is a picture of a painting of Mowgli and the Jungle Book animals, by Marcel Stary of Piedmont, Quebec. Next to it is a detail showing Mowgli. I don't know what year the painting is from though it would likely have been in the 70s or earlier. I have an old postcard with the image on it, though there is no date. Years ago, I saw the original painting at the Scouts of Canada museum here in Ottawa. I was disheartened to see the poor condition of the painting which is very large, easily 8 feet in height. The paintng has been removed from the original frame and was not hung very carefully. The canvas was wrinkled in some areas too. Hopefully they will get a professional, experienced, painting conservator to make a new frame and restore the painting soon. It would be money well spent. 

This is my Disney storybook of the animated movie. I've had it since at least 1982 when I was only 9 or 10 years old. It was published by Harmony Books in 1980 and is illustrated with actual screen shots from the movie. The Jungle Book was released in 1967 and was the last film that Walt Disney worked on. Sadly, he passed away during production and never saw the finished film. This has always been my favourite Disney movie. Yet, although it is very well done and the animation is super amazing, it is not as remarkable as reading Mr. Kipling's original story. The poetic style of Kipling's writting is enchanting and well worth the time to read. Enjoy the movie, but if you realy want to experience the Jungle Book, read it.

Here is a remarkable edition of the original Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. It was published by Blue Heron Books in 2006. Beautifully illustrated by Robert Ingpen. My new favourite book!

Mowgli, of course, has appeared in numerous movies, books, comics, and so on. I have a few Disney toys based on Disney's version of the Jungle Book.

This 8" Mowgli doll was sold as a set with a plush Baloo the Bear doll at Dinsey Stores around the mid 2000s. Other Jungle Book characters including Bagheera the Panther, Kaa the Snake, and Shere Khan the Tiger were also made.

Remember these cereal box toys? These Disney Jungle Book "Barrel of Monkeys" style figures were popular cereal box premiums through the 70s and 80s. They were reissued several times to promote the theatrical movie or a video release. I don't know when they first started making them, or which cereal brand had them (I think it was Kellogs) but I do recall playing with these when I was a child. Mowgli seemed to be the most difficult one to find. The bright red figures shown above (the two Kaa figures, Baloo, King Louie and Mowgli) are from the late 1980s or early 1990s, and the others are from earlier promotions. I suspect these were first offered in 1967 when the movie was originally in theatres for the first time.


Here is a McDonalds candy dispencer toy of Mowgli from 1997. These are still quite commonly found a flea markets and thrift stores. The series included Baloo, Bagheera, King Louie, Kaa, and Junior the Elephant.

Here is a reprint of the Classics Illustrated comic book of The Jungle Book. This one is from 1997 but the original comic was published in the 1950s. I like the cover artwork for this version.

Here is another unique version of The Jungle Book. I like the illustrations in this version. As you can see, this book says "Van Gool's" above the title instead of Rudyard Kipling. There is also no mention of Rudyard Kipling inside the book either. Disney does this too with some of their books. I find it's quite disrespectful that anyone would attempt to claim the story as their own and not bother with giving credit to the original author. Even if the story is changed slightly in the way it is retold, the honest (and professional) thing to do is state "based on the original story by Rudyard Kipling, retold by (so-and-so)". Unfortunately some people need the ego boost so they take credit for everything, and others simply don't care about the original source of the material because they just want the money. Some people also think that when something goes into the public domain the person who created it no longer needs to be credited, but that is incorrect. Could you imagine how much of our culture would be lost if it were left completely in the hands of the Disney's and Van Gool's among us! 
 
1910s

Tarzan - Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and first published in 1912. See my Tarzan page here: http://mikeysactionfigures.blogspot.ca/p/i-have-huge-of-tarzan-stuff.html

Korak - Son of Tarzan, also created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, first appeared in text stories published in 1914.

David Innes
Another Edgar Rice Burroughs character, David Innes is a man from the present who finds the lost world of Pellucidar in the centre of the earth populated by dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts. The series of novels begins with "At the Earth's Core" published in 1914. In addition to the original novels, the character David Innes was featured in a series of comics titled "Weird Worlds", published by DC Comics beginning in 1972. The comics related the adventures of David Innes as he battled dinosaurs while exploring the strange world of Pellucidar. Although a modern day human, David is often depicted as a caveman or jungle hero type with long black hair wearing a loincloth (the remains of this torn clothing). Alternatively, the character is depicted in some cases as wearing pants, tall boots and a black vest with no shirt. In this outfit I find that the David Innes character resembles Han Solo who first appeared in the 1977 film Star Wars, many years after DC comics started publishing "Weird Worlds".

Nu
A close relative of the jungle hero is the caveman. Edgar Rice Burroughs published several books about Caveman-type heroes. The Eternal Savage was originally published under the title The Eternal Lover in 1914 and features the caveman hero Nu. This paperback is an Ace edition and undated but was likely published in the late 60s or early 70s. I really like the artwork on these Ace covers!


1920s

Bomba the Jungle Boy


Bomba The Jungle Boy was first published in 1926 for younger readers. He is clearly influenced by both Tarzan and Mowgli, and is the first jungle hero clone to gain main stream sucess. Created 14 years after Tarzan, Bomba is the third oldest jungle hero that I know of and, in 2012, turned 86 years old. I have the Clover Books editions though I'm not certain what years they are from. All of them are hardcovers but quite fragile. Above are books 1-3, below are books 5, 6 and 8. There were ten books in all. 


Like Tarzan, Bomba was seen in movies and on TV. In 1967-68 DC Comics published a seven issue series based on the TV show. Issue No. 1 is shown below. In 1978, the books were republished in hardcover by Grosset & Dunlap. As you can see, by the 60s and 70s Bomba was no longer an adolescent teenage "boy" but was instead depicted as a young man in his early 20s, not unlike Tarzan.


Morgan the Mighty
According to Wikipedia the character of Morgan the Mighty first appeared in text in 1928, and in illustrated form in 1938 for a comic strip named after the character. This comic strip was republished in 1951 and 1963. Some of the Morgan the Mighty comic strips to be published in the 1950s and 1960s were reruns of the "Strang the Terrible" comic strip, only renamed.

Tanar
Another caveman character from Edgar Rice Burroughs, "Tanar of Pellucidar" was first published in 1929.

1930s

Jan of the Jungle
Written by Otis Adelbert Kline in 1931, Jan appeared in several stories in Argosy magazine, and later a film adaptation in 1935 "Call of the Savage". The character also appeared in comic books.

Tam, Son of the Tiger
Also written by Otis Adelbert Kline in 1931, Tam is a jungle hero clone of Tarzan who wears a red toga!?! His title "Son of the Tiger" is not just to impress people; the character actually was adopted and raised by a tiger. Several stories were published in various issues of Weird Tales magazine.

Kwa of the Jungle
Written by Paul Regard, Kwa appeared in several stories in Thrilling Adventures magazine beginning in 1932. Kwa has short blond hair and on at least one occasion wore a leopard print loincloth with a shoulder strap.

Kaspa the Lion Man
Written by C.T. Stoneham in 1933, Kaspa appeared in at least one novel and later the film "King of the Jungle" starring Buster Crabbe. On book covers the character is a Tarzan clone with short black hair wearing leopard print Speedo style shorts.

Sorak
Written by Harvey D. Richards in 1934, Sorak appeared in several novels.

Strang the Terrible
According to Wikipedia, Strang is another jungle hero character who first appeared in text stories, this time in 1936. The character then appeared in a comic strip in 1944 that was later republished under the title "Morgan the Mighty" as the characters were quite similar.

Ka-zar
As a collector of the Ka-zar marvel comics, I was very surprized and pleased to discover that Ka-zar's origins do not start in the 1970s, but in fact go back to the 1930s! "Adventures of Ka-zar the Great" was first published as a pulp magazine in 1936. Here is an excellent website that provides images and explains the full story, which is a bit dizzying to keep track of! http://home.comcast.net/~cjh5801a/Ka-Zar.htm Therefore it seems that Ka-zar was one of the original jungle heroes to have blond hair. His hair was shown as being very short in the 1930s, but became much longer in the 1970s.
 
It has always been my understanding that Marvel Comics introduced Ka-zar in Astonishing Tales in 1970, though he also apparently had appeared in Marvel Comics #1 in 1939.  In 1974 Ka-zar was given his own series, simply titled Ka-zar, which lasted 20 issues. In 1981 an new series titled Ka-zar the Savage was started. It later became simply Ka-zar which can be confusing for collectors. It lasted until 1984 with 34 issues. During the 70s or 80s, Ka-zar also found success in France where he was competing directly with Rahan, another popular caveman comic book character from the 70s. Ka-zar has also made guest appearances in other Marvel comics, such as The Uncanny X-Men in 1991 (No. 274) and Proffessor Xavier and the X-Men in 1996 (No. 11). In May 1997 Ka-zar made an official comback with a new series, again titled Ka-zar. He has also appeared in the cartoon styled kids comic Marvel Superhero Squad, No. 6, Aug. 2010.

Astonishing Tales, Vol. 1 No. 9, Dec 1971 by Marvel Comics. Ka-Zar, Vol. 1 No. 10, Aug. 1975. Note the similarity of the two covers. Ka-Zar's head is in the same spot, facing the same direction, while the Saber tooth tiger is in essentially the same position. Ka-Zar also wrestles with gorillas just like Tarzan.

Here is Ka-zar Vol. 1, No. 2, May 1981, and Vol. 1, No.14, May 1982. Ka-zar teams up with a monkey man, but his name isn't Cheeta!

Marvel Comics Ka-zar, Vol. 2, No. 2, June 1997.

Jaragu of the Jungle
Created by Rex Beach, "Jaragu of the Jungle" was published as a Big Little Book in 1937 by Whitman. The cover illustration depicts Jaragu as looking very much like Mowgli with black hair and wearing a langota (cloth wrapped around his body to shape "underwear").

Von Horst
Another Edgar Rice Burroughs novel Back to the Stone Age was originally published under the title Seven Worlds to Conquer in 1937. The hero, Von Horst, is not a cave man but plays a similar type of role fighting off prehistoric beasts. This paperback is an Ace edition and undated but was likely published in the late 60s or early 70s.


1940s

Ka'a'nga
This blond haired Tarzan clone was featured in "Jungle Comics", first published by Fiction House in 1940. The character reapeared in "Ka'a'nga the Jungle King" in 1949 until 1954, also published by Fiction House. In 1963 and 1964, reprints were published in "Jungle Adventures" by Super Comics.

Wambi
This is a Mowgli clone who appeared in "Wambi Jungle Boy" comics, published by Fiction House Magazines from 1942 to 1953, with 18 issues. The character also made appearances in the same publisher's comic series "Jungle Comics".

Yarmak
"Yarmak, Jungle King Comic" is a jungle hero comic from Australia, published by Young's Merchandising Co. in 1942. The series was illustrated by Stan Pitt. Yarmak is an exact clone of Tarzan.

Jo-Jo
According to Wikipedia "Jo-Jo, Congo King" was a comic book series that was first published in 1947 and lasted until 1949, with 29 issues.

Tom-Tom, The Jungle Boy
This is a cartoon style comic book character that appeared in his own comic as early as 1947 until at least 1958, with at least 10 issues. The comic was published by Magazine Enterprises. Tom-Tom was illustrated with a very round head and appears childlike. He reminds me of the Richie Rich/Casper the Ghost style of cartoon characters. He wore a leopard skin loin cloth with a shoulder strap.

Zago
"Zago, Jungle Prince" was a comic book series by Fox Features Syndicate that was first published in 1948 and lasted only 4 issues. Zago has short blond hair and wears black Speedo style shorts. In some cases his shorts are striped vertically with red and black or green and black.

Jongor
Author Robert Moore Williams created three novels that featured Jongor, a clone of Tarzan. According to Wikipedia the first Jongor story was published in Fantastic Adventures magazine in the 1940s. The novels however were not published until 1970.

1950s

Akim No. 167, June 1966, and Akim No. 239 (unknown date) Apparently Akim has the ability to pin a Rhino down with one knee!

Akim
A jungle hero from Italy who was also very popular in France, Akim was not only a Tarzan-like hero, he also looked just like Tarzan with short black hair and leopard print trunks. If I understand correctly, the character first appeared in comic books in Italy in 1950 and was later featured in comics that were published in France. The character appeared in several series of comics, including "Akim", "Bengali" and "Akim-Color", which ultimately lasted until the early 1990s. Well done Akim!

Tarou
A jungle hero from France, Tarou seems to have first appeared in "Dynamic" comic books during the early 1950s. The character's second comic series was in print until at least the late 1960s. I don't have any of these comics and haven't read any, though it seems that the character went through a few changes and was at first more of a typical Tarzan type in a loin cloth. Later he is depicted as more civilized, wearing a white muscle shirt, pants and tall boots. I've also seen a 1966 French comicbook that depicts him as a caveman with long blond hair, though I'm not certain if this is the same "Tarou" as the others.

Thun'da
"The Jungle Adventures of Thun'da, King of the Congo" was a 6 issue comic book series that was first published in 1952 by Magazine Enterprises. That same year the movie "King of the Congo" was produced by Columbia Pictures starring Buster Crabbe as Thun'da, though I'm not certain if the movie was based on the comic book character.

Zanthar
This was a French comic published in the early 1950s (possibly 1953) until the early to mid 1960s. Zanthar looks like he is a caveman type of character. In the late 1960s author Robert Moore Williams produced a four volume novel series based on a character named Zathar, but this is unrelated to the earlier Zanthar comic series.

Tor
A caveman hero first seen in the comic "One Million Years Ago" by St. John Publishing Co., 1953-54. Various publishers have sinces kept the character in print, with the "Tor" comic books published by DC Comics in 1975-76 being the first of these. Collections of the Tor comics have more recently been published in 2009 and 2010. Tor was also a caveman character in the live action "Korg 70,000 B.C" TV series from the 1970s, however this character had nothing to do with the original Tor character or the comics.

Jungle Boy and Lo-Zar / Tharn
These characters appeared in the 1954 comic "Jungle Action" by Atlas comics. When the comics were reprinted by Marvel in the 1970s, Lo-Zar's name was apparently changed to Tharn. Jungle Boy has short brown hair and wears red shorts, while Lo-Zar/Tharn has short blond hair and wears black shorts. The characters were later depicted wearing brown loincloths rather than shorts. An unrelated movie titled "Jungle Boy" was also produced in 2008 and is available on DVD.

Wild Boy / Wildboy
This was a young tenage character with long blond hair who wore a solid red or blue loin cloth. The 15 issue "Wild Boy of the Congo" comic book seris was first published from 1951 to 1955 by Davis Comics/St. John Publishing. A similar yet unrealated character, also with long blond hair, appeared in the live action Saturday morning TV series "Bigfoot and Wildboy", that was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft from 1976 to 1979. This Wildboy wore a brown outfit (sleevless shirt, loin cloth, and shoes) that seemed to have been made entirely of skins, not unlike a caveman.

Janu the Jungle Boy
This is a character from the "Congo Bill" comic series published by DC Comics in 1955. There also seems to have been a "Congo Bill" movie made in 1957 but I don't know if it was based on the comic.


The next page of this blog continues with the 1960s. Please see "Other Jungle Heroes: Part Two". http://mikeysactionfigures.blogspot.ca/p/jungle-heroes-part-two.html


1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. Don't forget Turok, who certainly belongs on this list. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turok

    ReplyDelete