Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!
John Carter, Warlord of Mars #16 – September 1978
Cover Art by Ernie Colon and Rudy Nebres
It was one year ago this week that the long-awaited film version of John Carter of Mars finally arrived in theaters. Unfortunately, some executive genius at Disney Studios made the decision to ax the “of Mars” part of the title, leaving unfamiliar moviegoers wondering what the heck this white-ape battling hero was all about.
The studio completely botched the “John Carter” marketing campaign for what was actually a very good film adaptation of the 100-year-old story by renowned author Edgar Rice Burroughs (who also created Tarzan.) There is a very good book out, John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood by film insider Michael D. Sellers, that details the inept efforts to promote the rich John Carter of Mars history and it is an excellent read for anyone interested in how movies are marketed or who wonders what the heck happened with John Carter.
Like John Carter director, Andrew Stanton, I first became seriously infatuated with the Martian world of Barsoom in the pages of the Marvel Comics John Carter, Warlord of Mars series that ran from 1977–79 (28 issues total, plus three “King-Size” annual editions.) With stories by Marv Wolfman and awesome art by Gil Kane, these comics led me to the ERB books and a fantastic world of science-fiction fantasy. John Carter is the literal Godfather of Star Wars, Superman, Flash Gordon, Avatar and dozens of other popular fantasy stories.
It is truly a shame that Hollywood botched this movie’s marketing so badly, creating a negative atmosphere that prevented many people from seeing a film that they most likely would have loved. If you’ve never read the Burroughs books (starting with A Princess of Mars) or the Marvel comics — or if you haven’t seen the movie — they are all very highly recommended. Read them, see the movie, then tell your friends and let’s keep John Carter alive to hopefully live on the big screen again one day.
Join the “Back to Barsoom” John Carter sequel campaign on Facebook.