Bravo to Burroughs: Phoenix Comicon panels probe pulp adventure author’s legacy

In the pulp planetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arizona is the site of a certain fictional Civil War veteran’s transmigration to a new life on the Red Planet — so it’s fitting that the state’s biggest pop culture event should finally celebrate the man who created both Mars’ Earth-born champion, John Carter, as well as Earth’s aristocratic ape-man, Tarzan.

Nerdvana’s own Bob Leeper will moderate a pair of Phoenix Comicon panels exploring Burroughs’ legacy.

“I’m so honored to be able to participate in the Burroughs panels at PHXCC,” Leeper said. “The author’s connections to Arizona and his work’s subsequent connections to modern pop culture are endlessly fascinating to me and to most Arizonans once they learn the incredible history.

“The good people at Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. making their first appearance at Phoenix Comicon is the closest thing to having the late, great author himself return to the place where his first stories began. We’re all thrilled and we hope AZ comes out in huge numbers to help us celebrate the great-grandfather of popular culture.”

An event long in the making, and something Leeper’s been working on for a very long time, these panels present a rare chance to hear directly from the custodians of Burroughs’ literary legacy.Panelists at both events include James J. Sullos Jr., president of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc.; Cathy Wilbanks, the organization’s archivist; and Scott Tracy Griffin, author of Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration from Titan Books.

‘Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. June 3

Join Jim Sullos (President, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.), Scott Tracy Griffin (author, “Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration”, “Tarzan on Film”), and Cathy Wilbanks (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Archivist) as they discuss the storied history of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations, including Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars, culminating with Warner Brothers’ upcoming feature film “The Legend of Tarzan!” Moderated by Bob Leeper (Evermore Nevermore/The Arizona Cave). A prize raffle will be held for attendees.

Edgar Rice Burroughs and His Influence on Pop Culture’
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. June 4

Author Ray Bradbury deemed Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs “the most influential writer of the Twentieth Century, bar none”. Was this accolade deserved? Moderator Bob Leeper (Evermore Nevermore/The Arizona Cave) joins Jim Sullos (President, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.), Scott Tracy Griffin (author, “Tarzan on Film”, “Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration”), and Cathy Wilbanks (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Archivist), to trace Burroughs’ influence on modern pop culture from Superman to Star Wars and beyond.

UPDATE: Comics veteran Ron Marz, recently of Dynamite Entertainment’s John Carter: Warlord of Mars series, has joined the June 4 panel.

Both panels will include prize raffles and are scheduled to take place in North 226BC at the convention, which is held at the Phoenix Convention Center.

John Carter Phoenix Comicon panels

The film John Carter brought Burroughs’ Earthman-on-Mars tale to the big screen at last in 2012; while the movie failed to rake in box-office booty or critical acclaim, much of the blame for that lies in Disney’s lap and the way marketing was handled (or not handled, to be more precise) — but that may be a discussion best saved for another place and time. These Phoenix Comicon panels will be a long-awaited occasion to learn more about Burroughs’ inspiration and impact from his estate’s own caretakers and chroniclers.

Burroughs’ Mars, or Barsoom, still stands as inspiration for everything from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek and George Lucas’ Star Wars to the superheroes of Stan Lee and James Cameron’s Avatar. Leeper recently presented on the stories’ influence at Ignite Phoenix, and curates a webpage and Facebook and Twitter feeds dedicated to the topic under the umbrella brand “The Arizona Cave.” Be sure to check them all out!

Originally published May 10, 2016

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