Saturday, July 9, 2011

Design of the Week--John Carter of Mars

Each week, we post a limited-edition design, to be sold for exactly 7 days, then replaced with another!
This week...100 years ago*, a visionary writer penned a series of tales that would be the template for one of the most popular genres of fiction today...the space opera!
The first pulp adventure series created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (predating Tarzan by several months). the six-part serial "Under the Moons of Mars" detailed how soldier-of-fortune John Carter, mortally-wounded by Indians while prospecting for gold in 1870s Arizona, somehow projects his consciousness to Mars, where it is reincarnated in a body identical to his Earthbound form.

In Mars' lesser gravity, Carter's normal-human strength is, literally, superhuman!
He can lift over a ton, and can leap over a quarter of a mile!
And, yes, he can breathe, because the Barsoomians (as Martians call themselves) operate atmosphere-generating facilities bringing the oxygen content of the air to near-Earth levels.
He rescues and falls in love with the beautiful princess of the city/state Helium, Dejah Thoris, and joins with her in battling tyrannical enemies in a world filled with hidden cities, exotic creatures, and advanced technology (sometimes disguised as "magic").
It's the prototypical "high adventure" series, and it's concepts and tropes can be found in most later sf/fantasy from Flash Gordon to Captain Future to Star Wars.
Later, the six parts were combined with additional material into a novel, A Princess of Mars, that launched a multi-book series known as "The Barsoom Tales" or "Warlord of Mars".

Probably because of heavy special-effects requirements, there were no film or tv adaptations of John Carter stories until 2009, when a direct-to-video version of A Princess of Mars was released.
(Legendary animator Bob Clampett attempted to produce an animated version in 1936, going so far as to produce an illustrated bible and test footage. But no studio wanted to bankroll the project, believing "realistic" animation wouldn't sell. Several years later, the Fleischer Studio produced the classic Superman cartoons, proving them totally-wrong.)
Now, production is under way on a cgi-enhanced feature film (like Avatar, Sin City, and Sky Captain) called John Carter of Mars based on that first novel, A Princess of Mars, with noted author Michael Chabon doing the screenplay.

Available on kool kollectibles including iPhone and iPad cases, t-shirts, mugs, etc.
Plus, we'd suggest any of our collectibles combined with one of the books or dvds below as a gift set would make a great lead-in/intro to a pop-culture/high adventure fan to prep them for the new movie due early next year!

*Though The All-Story magazine the first chapter of "Under the Moons of Mars" appeared in is cover-dated February, 1912, the magazine was actually on sale in November-December 1911
Cover-dating fiction magazines (including pulps and comic books) 3-4 months ahead of the actual release date was standard practice until the 1990s.

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