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John Carter of Mars

July 4, 2011

With a long awaited feature film incarnation finally on the way, we thought we'd take a look at the roots of Edgar Rice Burroughs' favorite man-about-Mars. Despite plenty of novels featuring the maverick hero, did you know John Carter started as a pulp character? It's true. John Carter of Mars first appeared in the pulp publication, All-Story magazine in 1912. And like the character himself, no one's quite sure how long Carter will live.

Here are few interesting facts about the sci-fi and adventure icon:

In the first John Carter of Mars novel, The Princess of Mars, Carter is described as a native Virginian who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War before becoming a prospector in Arizona. Chased by Apaches into a cave, he asphyxiates on noxious gas and, while unconscious, moves toward a "bright red light" that turns out to be Mars.

Once there, Carter meets Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium, one of Mars' capital cities.

A total of 11 Burroughs-penned John Carter of Mars books were published. Marvel revived the character for a short, but well-received run in 1977 with John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Dark Horse also took a take on the character with Tarzan/John Carter: Warlord of Mars in 1996, bringing together for the first time two of Burrough's most famous heroes.

Due to the vagueries of copyright law, some of the John Carter material is in the public domain, which will explain how Dynamite has three Warlord of Mars titles while Marvel has just announced their officially sanctioned version and a movie tie-in. Dark Horse also has a collected edition the reprints the early comic book tales.

Long a dream of many Burroughs fans, it will be interesting to see if the new movie creates more fans for the old stories.

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