One hundred years ago in March of 1912, readers of Munsey’s The All-Story, were nearing the halfway point of a six-part serial entitled "Under the Moons of Mars," a story credited to Norman Bean. The work of a new fiction writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the novel tells the tale of Captain Jack Carter of Virginia, and of his adventures on the planet Mars.
First advertised in the January 1912 issue of The All-Story as "a surprisingly vivid Interplanetary romance," the original pulp version of Burroughs’ novel began with an editor’s note:
At the time of his demise, John Carter was a man of uncertain age and vast experience, honorable and abounding with true fellowship. He stood a good two inches over six feet, was broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, with the carriage of the trained fighting man. His features were regular and clear-cut, his eyes steel gray, reflecting a strong and loyal character. He was a Southerner of the highest type. He had enlisted at the outbreak of the War, fought through the four years and had been honorably discharged. Then for more than a decade he was gone from the sight of his fellows. When he returned he had changed, there was a kind of wistful longing and hopeless misery in his eyes, and he would sit for hours at night, staring up into the starlit heavens.
Thus was the reader of a century ago drawn into the mystery of Captain Jack. In the pages that followed that brief editor’s note and for the five issues thereafter, the readers of The All-Story were told a most wondrous tale, of four-armed Tharks and red-skinned Heliumites, of fantastic airships and many-legged thoats, of vast dead seas and long-abandoned cities, and of a lost princess and the man from another world who won her heart, all created by a gifted storyteller named Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Now, one-hundred years later, a new audience will be introduced to Captain Jack. In less than a week’s time, Disney’s John Carter will debut in theaters everywhere and another generation will thrill to Burroughs’ imaginings. PulpFest 2012 will be honoring the wonderful creations of Edgar Rice Burroughs beginning on August 9th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Register now for the summer’s great pulp con!
The cover art above is by Clinton Pettee for the April 1912 issue of The All-Story. The scan is from Galactic Central.