Tarzan Lives On

May. 11, 2017
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Despite the box-office shortfall of last summer’s rather silly film, The Legend of Tarzan, the vine-swinging jungle hero continues to hold interest more than a century after Edgar Rice Burroughs debuted his first pulp novel based on the character. One indicator is that new Tarzans continue to be written and published. The latest, Tarzan Trilogy, comes from Menomonee Falls author Thomas Zachek and is part of “The Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs Series” published by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., a company with rights to the Tarzan name.

Although many of Burroughs’ novels have long passed into public domain, Zachek explains that the writer was probably “the first author-businessman to trademark as opposed to copyright his characters’ names. My book had to be greenlighted by the Burroughs organization.”

Tarzan Trilogy consists of three long short stories, two of them showing that every era endows its superheroes with missions in keeping with the anxieties of the time. In the opener, “Tarzan and the Fountain of Youth,” the jungle lord takes on a corrupt pharmaceutical giant; religious fanaticism is the theme of “Tarzan and the Cross of Vengeance.” The third story, “Tarzan the Conqueror,” pits him against those reliable and long-running pulp villains, the Nazis.

“There is something of a renewal of interest in Tarzan stories,” Zachek says, pointing to the series to which his page-turning Tarzan Trilogy belongs. “As for Tarzan’s relevance, heroes and superheroes are more popular than ever in our current culture. We see not only a raft of new heroes but reboots of classic ones such as Superman and Batman. Tarzan is one of the most enduring characters in all of popular fiction, ranking right up there with Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. He is at heart a classic romantic action hero. His tales are action-packed escapism, which has never gone out of style.”

The Legend of Tarzan will probably spur no Hollywood sequels but don’t write-off the loin-clothed hero of noble savagery just yet.

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