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The Master and The King


Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) was an American adventure writer most famous for his character Tarzan. The Tarzan stories have been adapted into comic books, countless movies, and television programs. He also created John Carter of Mars, a character that has inspired the likes of George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) and noted scientist Carl Sagan (Cosmos). Our exhibit highlights different visual representations of Burroughs’s work, especially in comic books. Even though today we know Burroughs as one of the most widely read authors of the 20th century, he found his calling later in life. He published his first story at the age of 36. Before he became a fiction writer, Burroughs was an honorably discharged soldier, a Gatling gun instructor, a door-to-door salesman, a pencil sharpener peddler for Sears Roebuck, and many other disparate professions. As an avid reader of pulp magazines, Burroughs became convinced that he could write stories just as good, if not better, than published ones. He later commented in the Washington Post, “if people were paid for writing such rot as I read, I could write stories just as rotten.” Burroughs could not have predicted the tremendous impact that his work would have on popular culture.

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