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Nkima Speaks




This afternoon I made a spreadsheet of ERB’s productive years arranged by year. It is interesting how this looks across the board, so to speak, rather than by a simple listing in a column.

I suppose this has been obvious to everyone but me, but a good case can be made that ERB worked more consistently on his NON-SERIES novels and stories than even his famous Tarzan Series. It seems that Burroughs turned out a Tarzan novel or story nearly every year from 1911, however, this is not quite so. There is no Tarzan work for 1913 (unless you count Eternal Lover with Greystoke). Yet, this was one of his most productive years with 7 titles completed.

There is no Tarzan work of 1921, 1924, 1925, 1929, 1932, 1938, 1941, 1942, 1943, at total of 10 years if you go by Bob Zeuschner’s chart of Date of Authorship, which he indicates are only approximate working dates. You do find overlapping dates of work when you consult the Appendix in Porges, but the fact of the matter is Burroughs did not always work hard on Tarzan during the thirty three years between 1911 and 1944.

As everyone knows the largest gap in series work comes in the Pellucidar Series. Burroughs wrote Pellucidar in 1914 but did not return to this series until 1935, twenty-one years later. There is also a large gap in the Mars work from Thuvia in 1914 to Chessmen in 1921.

However, the point I am trying to make is the only gap in ERB’s Non-Series work occurs in 1920 (Tarzan the Terrible year) 1928 (when he wrote 3 Tarzans! and Tanar) 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1941, only a 7 year of non-production in this area, and most of these are in his later years when his over-all production was falling off.

I suppose this is only natural because one can’t always be working on large novels. Admittedly, many of the novels and stories that ERB was working on during those productive years remain unpublished, but he did spend a lot of his time with Non-Series work, which I assume he considered to be important.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was an extremely efficient man who kept careful records of his work, and (as it has been mentioned over and over again) he wrote to feed his family. If Tarzan was “the cash-cow” as Tangor is fond of reminding us, his non-series work was at least what might be considered the “veggies” that garnished his fare and was perhaps the very thing that made the other work possible for him to digest.


My comments on the expanded spreadsheet, (largely created from my ERBTIMELINE) include references to first serial, first editions, second serial, and first radio/film releases. Nkima approached this article by observing ERB's creative writing and how often ERB visited Tarzan--though some of his dates should be extended to include the year (following) when some of the Tarzan stories were FINISHED. My approach is "ERB published," which indicates Tarzan was a constant in publication, particularly in serialization, with few exceptions during ERB's lifetime. It is apparent, however, that the non-Tarzan tales come in close clusters of creative output. They seem to enjoy the same frequency of serial publication as Tarzan, though darn few of them enjoyed the same number of hardback REPRINTS over the years. The Nkima/Tangor viewpoints go hand in glove and, while approached from two different viewpoints: Creation v. Publication, we both end up in the same place: Edgar Rice Burroughs was a hard working man.

My inclusion of Film, Radio, and Comic Daily Strips merely illustrates that ERB was rarely out of the public eye. As regards the Tarzan daily comic it was in constant production throughout his life, though I did not show this for each year after it began. The sum of these non-ERB exhibits simply illustrates that Burroughs' name recognition remained constant throughout the years. My friend Nkima's examination of non-Tarzan story production during ERB's lifetime affirms ERB's determination to expand his horizons and to let no story written go to waste.

ERB saturated the reading market as few other authors have done, then or since. Looking at the spreadsheet below we can see that his serials and novels where in constant production from 1914 until 1949. There were, on average, two ERB hardback publications released each year from 1914 to 1940. Burroughs experienced a burst of creativity between 1912 and 1915 that fueled his "pipeline" of pulp serials and books for several years after.

Once Burroughs became a best selling author his output dropped dramatically and, as has been noted by other researchers, began to maximize dollars for sometimes pot-boiler, or at the very best, consistently repetitive output as regards the Tarzan stories. Hooray for enterprise!

ERB (most unusual) managed to resell serial publication rights on a number of stories over the years. I have included these secondary serializations because they indicate the businessman's approach and are the source of confusing titles for researchers. These repeated offerings contributed steadily to the author's income and name. I have not indicated the G&D, A.L. Burts, Methune or overseas editions, each of which were a source of income for the author. The scope of the spreadsheet is to reveal ERB's writing habits and his initial serial and first edition releases. If all of the exclusions listed above were displayed, ERB would appear to never have been out of print during his lifetime.

The spreadsheet indicates that a number of his pulp stories appeared in serial form only. Many of these were not collected or published in book form until after his death--some well after his death in 1950. ERB had very few slim years in publishing from 1913 to 1940, yet the axe had to fall, eventually. From an Olympian viewpoint years later it seems obvious there were two desperate periods in his writing career.

See Tangor Responds WORDS AND WAGES for a spreadsheet illustrating Burroughs word counts over the years and a graph displaying initial income on each story. Note that after the mid-1930's ERB's income diminished dramatically and that the amounts shown for Escape on Venus and Llana of Gathol are the total income collected on the various story parts.

That first prolific period was a struggling writer and family man in 1912-16, initially selling "cheap." Soon ERB commanded one of the highest "cents per word" of any pulp author and maintained that extraordinary level until the mid-1930s--culminating with Tarzan and the Lion Man being sold for the astounding price of $10,000.

The second prolific period (1940) was that of a writer in public decline, and a man dealing with a second divorce, failed business decisions, and a tax squabble with the state of California which he eschewed by living in Hawaii. Burroughs applied himself to these various tests by working long hours in a rented office in Honolulu and rose to the occasion by penning a flood of imaginative tales. Ed Burroughs was never afraid of hard work.

What Burroughs wrote in 1940 appeared in various pulp mags in 1941 and 1942. The dollar amounts he recieved for this extraordinary effort were extraordinarily pitiful. There was a war on and paper shortages existed for all publishers, which explains why only one ERB book, Land of Terror, appeared between 1940 and 1945. Because ERB offered his services as the oldest war correspondent covering World War II we find that 1943, creatively, was a near dry year and 1945 was zip, nada, zero; however in 1944, at the age of 69, ERB wrote what many consider to be the best Tarzan novel of all time Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion." This title did not see print until 1947.

Both periods illustrate the author's active imagination and determination to offer value for valuta earned. The first period (1911-1915) was ERB getting started as a writer. The second (1940-1944) came at the end of Burroughs' career when pulp magazines began to fail because of war-time extremities and the popular tastes of the reading public changed. ERB, belatedly, realized his one trick pony had few-to-no tricks left and strove to extend himself. Unfortunately, these extensions (Venus, the late Pellucidar stories, and Poloda) did not rise to his previous excellence and are considered some of his weaker products.

1940 saw ERB--and his corporation--dealing with an extreme saturation of market. All of the new and younger writers who embraced attributes of Burroughs' famous style were introducing significant technological themes in their works which were beyond his ability to replicate. (Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, etc.) By 1939, the man who is considered the Grandfather of Science Fiction, was in eclipse by the works of bright, eager, and more daring authors spawned during World War II.

The war, principally, and media such as radio, daily comic strips, and HOLLYWOOD, competed adversely with ERB's second most prolific--and most underpaid--creative output (1940). Tarzan was nothing more than a mono-syllabic joke as far as the movie going public was concerned; Barsoom was a near forgotten dream, and the Venus satires were lost in the horrid reality of war-time. Burroughs' western and cowboy tales would not find a truly receptive audience until the 1950s--and by that time there were no volumes left to be purchased.

At the end of his career, there were few publishing venues willing or able to accept Burroughs tales of wonder and adventure. Those that were willing to accept his stories sadly, and repeatedly, screwed Burroughs dollar-wise for his adventure stories. The reality is the pulp editors and publishers were equally unhappy to see their markets and previous fortunes disappear. Cheap paperback books were on the horizon and these publications all but killed the pulp magazines. ERB's Cave Girl appeared as a paperback novel in 1949 (Dell)--the only reprint shown in the spreadsheet below. The glory of a publishing era was about to pass and fade.

There comes a time one ceases to swim upstream. When that time embraces us most firmly we should hope to read the Sunday Funnies in bed--and then pass quietly to another plane. Edgar Rice Burroughs died March 19, 1950 at his home in Encino, California. He remains one of the most influential and prolific American authors of all time.

The following spreadsheet collects, in a single view, the creative, serial, second serial, and hardback output of Edgar Rice Burroughs. See also Tangor Responds. Color Coding is IMPORTANT. Please note that Llana of Gathol, Escape on Venus, and Savage Pellucidar are presented as initially seralized--interconnected, but separately published novellas. These 12 stories were later collected as three novels; though the complete Savage Pellucidar volume was not released until 1963 which included the (then) unpublished novella of the same name.

When written First Edition Hardback Film/Radio (I) Incomplete Title in white: 1 of kind
Written unpublished Article Written Daily Comic Strip Pt# - Story sections later collected Serial titles may differ from books
Serial Article published LL# Llana of Gathol EV# Escape on Venus SP# Savage Pellucidar
Complied by David A. Adams and David Bruce Bozarth, Copyright 2001
1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916
Princess Mars Tarzan Apes Earth's Core Beasts Tarzan Son Tarzan Auto-Gypsying
Outlaw Torn Gods Mars Cave Girl Pt1 Lad Lion Man-Eater Beasts Tarzan
  Avenger Monster Men Girl Farris's Beyond Thirty Cave Girl Pt2
  For the Fool's Mother Warlord Mars Thuvia, Maid Mars Tarzan Jewels Girl Farris's
  Return Tarzan Mucker Pt1 Cave Girl Pt2 Rider Beasts Tarzan
  Princess Mars Eternal Lover Pt1 Eternal Lover Pt2 Zealots Mucker Pt2
  Tarzan Apes Mad King Pt1 Mad King Pt2 Lion Hunter Tarzan Jewels
    Monster Men Pellucidar Return Tarzan Thuvia, Maid Mars
    Cave Girl Pt1 Tarzan Apes Beyond Thirty  
    Gods Mars Earth's Core Eternal Lover Pt2  
    Return Tarzan Beasts Tarzan Eternal Lover Pt1 (I)  
    Warlord Mars Eternal Lover Pt1 Mad King Pt2  
      Mad King Pt1 Man-Eater  
      Mucker Pt1 Pellucidar  
      Outlaw Torn Son Tarzan  
1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922
Oakdale Affair Out Time's Abyss Under the Red Flag Tarzan Terrible Chessmen Mars Tarzan Golden Lion
Jungle Tales Tarzan Tarzan Untamed Efficiency Expert Ghostly Script Girl Hollywood Moon Maid 1
Land Time Forgot Patriotism by Proxy Jungle Tales Tarzan Tarzan Untamed Tarzan the Terrible Beware!
People Time Forgot Peace Militia Warlord Mars Thuvia, Maid Mars Mucker Earth's Core
Auto Biography (Republic) National Reserve Army, A Tarzan Untamed Tarzan Valley Luna Efficiency Expert Chessmen Mars
Little Door Wanted--Good Citizens! Oakdale Affair Revenge Tarzan Tarzan Terrible Chessmen Mars
Son Tarzan Tarzan Jewels   Son Tarzan Adv Tarzan Girl Hollywood
Princess Mars Gods Mars        
Lad Lion Land Time Forgot        
Jungle Tales Tarzan Oakdale Affair        
Auto Biography (Republic) Rider        
  Tarzan Apes        
  Romance Tarzan        
1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928
Bandit Hell's Bend Marcia the Doorstep Red Hawk War Chief You Lucky Girl! Tarzan Twins Jad-Bal-Ja
Tarzan Antmen Out Time's Abyss (Urban) Master Mind Mars Adv in Plagurism Tarzan Lord Jungle Tarzan Lost Empire
Tarzan Golden Lion Moon Men Cave Girl Tarzan Twins Apache Devil Tanar Pellucidar
Pellucidar Land Time Forgot Bandit Hell's Bend Moon Maid Outlaw Torn Tarzan Earth's Core
Girl Hollywood Tarzan Antmen Eternal Lover Mad King War Chief Master Mind Mars
Moon Maid Out Time's Abyss (Urban) Moon Men Adv in Plagurism Tarzan Twins Tarzan Lord Jungle
Tarzan Golden Lion Bandit Hell's Bend Red Hawk   Land Time Forgot Apache Devil
  Tarzan Antmen     Master Mind Mars Tarzan, Lord Jungle
        War Chief Tarzan the Mighty
        Tarzan Golden Lion  
        Perils the Jungle  
1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934
Fighting Man Mars Tarzan Invincible Tarzan Triumphant Murder! Tarzan Lion Man Tarzan's Quest
Jungle Girl Deputy Sheriff Calling All Cars! Pirate Blood Swords Mars Pirates Venus
Citizen Police Ghengis Khan Tarzan Leopardmen Lost on Venus Death Valley Exp 33ers Tarzan Lion Man
Monster Men Tanar Pellucidar Pirates Venus ERB Tells All Apache Devil Swords Mars
Tarzan Lost Empire Tarzan Earth's Core Tarzan City Gold Jungle Girl Tarzan City Gold Tarzan His Mate
Tarzan Daily Comic Lost Inside the Earth Tarzan Invincible Tarzan Triumphant Tarzan Lion Man  
Conquest the Moon Fighting Man Mars Fighting Man Mars Pirates Venus Lost on Venus  
Carter Red Planet Tarzan, Guard Jungle Jungle Girl Tarzan City Gold Tarzan the Fearless  
Tanar Pellucidar   Tarzan Triumphant Tarzan Leopardmen    
Tarzan Lost Empire     Tarzan Radio Starts    
Tarzan Earth's Core     Tarzan the Ape Man    
Tarzan the Tiger          
1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940
Back to the Stone Age Resurection Jimber-Jaw Carson Venus Lad Lion (rewrite) Tarzan Jungle Murders Tarzan Madman
Tarzan Magnificent Tarzan Magnificent Tarzan Forbidden City Synthetic Men Mars Angel's Serenade Escape on Venus
Lost on Venus Swords Mars Two-Gun Doak… Land Terror Tarzan Champion City Mummies LL1
Tarzan Leopardmen Tarzan Twins Jad-Bal-Ja Writer's Digest (letter) Lad Lion Carson Venus Black Pirates Barsoom LL2
Tarzan Immortal Men Tarzan's Quest Oakdale Affair/Rider Tarzan Forbidden City Tarzan Magnificent Yellow Men Mars LL3
New Advs Tarzan Tarzan Magic Men Back to Stone Age Carson Venus Tarzan Clans Invisible Men Mars LL4
  Tarzan Escapes Writer's Digest (letter) Red Star Tarzan Scientists Revolt Return to Pellucidar SP1
    Seven Worlds Conquer Red Star Tarzan Synthetic Men Mars Men Bronze Age SP2
    Resurection Jimber-Jaw Tarzan's Revenge Tarzan Finds a Son Tiger Girl SP3
    Tarzan Elephant Men Tarzan Green Goddess   Beyond the Farthest Star
    Tarzan Jr     Tangor Returns
          Strange Advs Dinwiddie
          Mysognists Preferred
          Deputy Sheriff
          Synthetic Men Mars
          Tarzan Castaways
          Terrible Tenderfoot
          Tarzan Champion
          Tarzan Jungle Murders
1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946
I Am A Barbarian Return to Pellucidar SP1 More Fun! More People Killed! Tarzan Foreign Legion Tarzan Amazons Tarzan, Lost Adv (fragment)
Wizard Venus Men Bronze Age SP2 Tarzan Triumphs Savage Pellucidar SP4   Escape on Venus
Uncle Miner Relations Tiger Girl SP3 Tarzan's Desert Mystery Land Terror   Tarzan Leopard Woman
Skeleton Men Jupiter Beyond The Farthest Star        
Fall Democracy War on Venus EV4        
Fall Democracy Tarzan's New York Adv        
Skeleton Men Jupiter          
Quest Tarzan          
Slaves Fish Men EV1          
Goddess Fire EV2          
Living Dead EV3          
John Carter Giant Mars          
City Mummies LL1          
Black Pirates Barsoom LL2          
Yellow Men Mars LL3          
Invisible Men Mars LL4          
Tarzan's Secret Treasure          
1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952
Tarzan Foreign Legion Llana Gathol Cave Girl (Dell) Tarzan Slave Girl Tarzan's Peril Tarzan's Savage Fury
Tarzan Huntress Tarzan Mermaids Tarzan's Magic Fountain