John Carter of Virginia and Barsoom

After the Civil War a number of Confederates found themselves in a new land.  The old ways were fast disappearing.

Captain John Carter decided to head West where a man could reinvent himself amid the rugged frontier of a new land.  Hunting for gold in the Southwest had its share of problems, especially with the Native Americans.

Escaping with his life from an Apache hunting party, Carter took refuge in a cave.  The cave was a sacred shine to those who had gone before.

There was something mystical about the place which touched a chord within the Southerner.  The sense of roots and heritage filled the cave with special significance for him since his own heritage was gone forever.

Falling asleep he sensed that tomorrow would be different.  Indeed, when Carter woke up he was in barren desert, but he knew that he was no longer in the Southwest.  He had been transported to the planet Barsoom which we earthers call Mars.

There Carter became embroiled between two races: the civilized (red Martians) and the uncivilized savages (green Martians). Barsoom is dying, and Carter’s destiny is to save his new home.

This would be the first tale from the fertile mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912.  Burroughs was an 7th Calvary soldier stationed in Arizona Territory during the 1890s.  After leaving the service he wandered the country doing odd jobs to support his family.

He took up a pencil and began to write a tale about a wandering ex-Civil War soldier in the Southwest.  He sold it to All-Story Magazine and it appeared in February 1912.

Making $400 from the project, his chosen destiny for the next three decades would be a writer.  The tale of John Carter was a hit with the public.

Of course, Burroughs’ most famous literary creation was Tarzan.  Tarzan became the rage with books, films, etc. produced.

The John Carter series would have to wait until March 2012 before a full screen version would be released.  Disney’s John Carter premieres on March 9.

Do yourself and your children a big favor.  Read the books on John Carter and his adventures and romance on the strange world of Barsoom, which resembled the American Southwest with its mixture of class struggles and the scanty essentials of life.

John Carter was the first superhero of Mars.  Every planet needs its superheroes, especially a planet on the verge of extinction.


G. D. Williams       © 2012