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John Carter Almost Went to Mars 70 Years Ago

Edgar Rice Burroughs was well known by the masses as the creator of Tarzan, but to science fiction fans, he will be remembered as the man who gave life to John Carter of Mars. Carter’s literary exploits were by no mans Literature-with-a-capital-L, but they are lovingly remembered by many fans as the books that hooked them on science fiction.

With such a hot property, one might expect it to have been adapted to film. Well, the Mars books weren’t quite as popular as the Tarzan books, but that didn’t stop Burroughs from trying when the opportunity arose. That opportunity came in the early 1930’s from animation pioneer Bob Clampett, who had recently earned his animation stripes at Warner Bros. studios. Clampett approached Burroughs with an idea for an animated film about one of his favorite characters: John Carter.

Here’s some footage from the 1930’s showing Clampett’s early work on the project…


Sadly, problems with the studio prevented the animated film from ever seeing the light of a Terran day…

Burroughs and Clampett wanted to make a serious since fiction adventure while the studios (in typical studio fashion that foreshadowed decades of missteps) wanted to make a sci-fi slapstick comedy. One is left wondering how Clampett’s John Carter of Mars would have shaped the science fiction films to come. But take heart, Carter fans, for Pixar is picking up that torch!

Bob Clampett’s John Carter of Mars [Roberson’s Interminable Ramble]

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