Having two “lords” in their publication stable wasn’t enough for the folks at Dynamite Entertainment, so in August the Lord of the Jungle and the Warlord of Mars, both created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, will be featured in a six-issue limited series, Lords of Mars, written by Arvid Nelson with art by Roberto Castro.
Interested in the unusual team-up, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively met with Nelson in the only thatched hut with palm trees on the Red Planet and quizzed him about this dream meeting of heroes.
Cosmic Book News: Two great pulp heroes, Arvid. Where did the idea come from to team them up in a mini-series?
Arvid Nelson: It was the first thought I had when I started writing Lord of the Jungle! It started out as a crazy dream, but now it’s becoming reality, and I’m so thrilled. It’s funny – when I approached Nicky with the concept, he’d been thinking about exactly the same thing.
CBN: You have contributed story to both heroes’ books. How is it different blending the atmospheres of the jungle and the Red Planet?
Arvid Nelson: I found it’s an either-or proposition. Either Tarzan must go to Mars, or Carter must go to Earth. Any story that switched back and forth between the two felt phony and forced to me.
CBN: OK, so let’s get the elephant out of the room: Does Carter come to Earth, does Tarzan go to Mars or is this indeed the kind of tale where the teamed duo really do not meet?
Arvid Nelson: The two will meet! I think it’s sort of unfair to sell a “crossover” and then never force the characters to meet. More than that I dare not say, because it would be a little bit of a spoiler. I’ll just say “yes” – one of the two scenarios you mentioned does indeed happen.
CBN: How would you compare Carter and Greystoke, their similarities and differences?
Arvid Nelson: First of all, they are both heroes. They’re not rebels or outlaws or whatever. They always associate themselves with what they know is right. But there are differences. Tarzan is, if anything, the more powerful of the two – quicker, stronger. But it’s not as simple as that. Tarzan is also a lot more conflicted than Carter. He’s more naïve, more vulnerable in other ways. That’s the wedge that could drive the two apart.
CBN: How about Jane and Dejah Thoris?
Arvid Nelson: Finding personalities for these two was more difficult, but if you dig deep enough into the original stories, they are there. Jane is a little terrified of Tarzan at times. Tarzan is a little terrifying, period. Both Dejah Thoris and Jane are moderating influences on their respective husbands, Jane more so than Dejah Thoris. Tarzan really needs Jane, the way Sherlock Holmes needs Watson.
CBN: Do you have any favored Burroughs stories involving your protagonists?
Arvid Nelson: It’s the second novel, for both characters – The Return of Tarzan and Gods of Mars. Return of Tarzan takes a little while to find its footing, but when it does, it’s brilliant. Gods of Mars is pure joy cover-to-cover.
CBN: What can you tell us about the challenges our heroes will face? Any new big-bads?
Arvid Nelson: Again, I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that Carter’s old adversaries, the Holy Therns, will be important.
CBN: How accessible will this tale be, say, for those vaunted “new readers” publishers seek? Any previous Tarzan or John Carter reading required?
Arvid Nelson: I don’t think accessibility is so much a question of forsaking a character’s history or coming up with a “new beginning.” For me it’s more about finding human, relatable predicaments for characters – getting the reader to identify with them. If you can do that, you’ll take anyone along with you. But I always try to make everything I write as accessible as possible, by including recap text at the beginning, and by peppering little reminders about what’s come before throughout the dialog.
CBN: Why is artist Roberto Castro right for this limited series?
Arvid Nelson: I’ll let Roberto’s art speak for itself. It’s simply the most amazing work I’ve seen from him.
CBN: Arvid, any projects current or future you’d like to discuss?
Arvid Nelson: I’m always working on a half dozen things, but I need to wait for the go-ahead from my publishers before I start blabbing. It’s very hard! But you can follow me on twitter, @arvidthetwit, for all the latest. I try to keep the shameless self-promotion to a minimum. Dynamite’s twitter feed is great, too!
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Arvid Nelson who took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and also Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.
“Lords of Mars” #1 (of 6) will hit shelves in August!