Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John Carter's Eternal Love

One of sci-fi/fantasy's great icons is Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, an "eternal warrior"-type character who finds himself leading two lives, teleporting back and forth between the post-Civil War American West and the other in ancient times on the savage, alien world of Mars (or "Barsoom" as the natives call it).

By Frank Frazetta

The Martian adventures of John Carter were published in 11 novels, with the first in the series being "A Princess of Mars". In in, Carter meets the love of his life (or lives, rather), and she is a presence to a greater or lesser degree in all the books that follow. Burroughs describes her thusly when Carter first lays eyes on her:

And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender, girlish figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women of my past life... Her face was oval and beautiful in the extreme, her every feature was finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure. Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against which the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect.

She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.

By Adam Hughes

It perhaps goes without saying given that description that Dejah Thoris has been a favorite subject of fantasy illustrators since her debut in 1917. Over at Shades of Gray, I spotlight some of the best black-and-white illustrations of Dejah Thoris and other Martian Princesses I've come across during my wanderings through the web. Click on the links below to see what John Carter saw, as interpreted by some of fantasy and comicdom's best artists.

Princesses of Mars, Part One

Princesses of Mars, Part Two

Princesses of Mars, Part Three

Princesses of Mars, Part Four

Princesses of Mars, Part Five

Princesses of Mars, Part Six

Princesses of Mars, Part Seven

(Parts Eight through Ten Coming Soon)