Don your loincloth, grab a vine, and let out a savage yell, because the one true Lord of the Jungle is back. It’s been over a hundred years since Tarzan swung through the pages of All-Story Magazine, which serialized author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel Tarzan of the Apes in 1912, and now he’s returning to the big screen with this week’s release of Warner Bros.’ The Legend of Tarzan. It’s hardly the first time Tarzan has soared across the silver screen, and it probably won’t be the last, but today we’re going to talk about the character’s influence on a different medium: comics.
Tarzan, himself, has over eight decades of history in comic strips and comic books, but his reach has gone much further than his own stories. There have been countless Tarzan imitators in all media, but in comic strips and books, the character’s impact was particularly notable, inspiring numerous exotically abandoned orphans to shed their clothes and run wild. But not all of these characters were pale imitations. Many became unique and noteworthy characters in their own right, adding more depth and color to the “jungle adventure” genre that Tarzan was a forefather of.
So grab your spear and look out for those trees as we look back at Tarzan’s history in the medium as well as eight more of the comic jungle’s protectors, rulers, explorers and exiles that have moved past being simple ripoffs and imitators to become compelling characters with stories and fanbases all their own. Anyone we missed? As always, let us know in the comments.