John Carter, Warlord of Mars

Thuvia, Maid of MarsI haven’t seen the movie yet, but it looks like fun. Pointless fun, certainly, but still probably worth a view. I’m amazed that someone put all that time into the movie, because the original books were so ephemeral. I read them as a kid and liked them; they were fun. But they didn’t have a lot of meat to them. The best part of the Barsoom books was always the art, since so many artists used the stories as an excuse to draw muscular men in leather harness and scantily clad women (as scantily as possible!), and perhaps either a Green Martian or Banth tossed into the mix. James Allen St. John (right) was the first to do this sort of art for Barsoom.
Frazetta, BanthOf course, the artist that really made Barsoom popular was Frank Frazetta (left), who excelled at both muscular men and buxom women, especially the women. Frazetta’s women became the fantasies of several generations of young men. What made Frazetta’s illustrations even better was that he could even draw convincing eight-legged lions and other monstrosities that made  St. John’s drawings look a bit silly. Other artists drew Barsoomian scenes as well, including William Stout and Richard Corben. Corben (below) actually outdid Frazetta at his own game. His men were even more muscular, his women even bustier, and the sexual content much more frank. And if the key to a book’s success is the sexual fantasies promoted by its cover art, how can that be translated over to a movie? Maybe the same thing applies to Flash Gordon. The serial back in the 1940s had a scantily clad Dale Arden. The only successful version since then was the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon (and yes, I’m including Queen’s version of Flash). Corben's Mars


About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
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