Thursday, 19 February 2009

Gullivar Jones, Warrior Of Mars

Gullivar Jones, Warrior Of Mars was a great little series that, alas, never really had much of a run. Written by ( natch! ) Roy Thomas and drawn, in the first instance, by Gil Kane ( as we know, the greatest illustrator of heroic fantasy ever ) it ran in just six issues of Creatures On The Loose, in-between similar showcases for King Kull & Thongor, and was clearly one of a long line of attempts to capitalize on the success of Conan The Barbarian.

It belongs to the sub-genre called 'interplanetary romance', where a lone earthman travels to a distant planet, wins a princess, and has various death-defying adventures fighting barbaric bad guys. And if that all sounds like Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter Of Mars, award yourself a Barsoomian slap on the back.
But interestingly, the novel on which it's based; Lt. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, was published in 1905, a full seven years before the first of Burrough's books, making it the very first in this particular genre.

Gullivar Jones the comic has it's faults. For whatever reason ( probably nervousness on Stan & Roy's part ), each episode is only ten pages long, the rest of the book being filled with reprints.
This means there isn't much in the way of characterization through the series: Other than the likeable, wisecracking Gullivar, several intriguing supporting characters, including the villain, are given pretty short shrift.
And Gil, sadly, is only responsible for two & a bit of the six episodes. Luminaries such as Ross Andru, Jim Mooney, Wayne Boring & Gray Morrow do sterling work throughout ( especially Morrow ), but it's a shame Gil couldn't've done the whole thing. Still, he was legendary for taking on too much work to pay for alimony & ex-wives. P'rhaps that's what happened here.

Interesting to note, also, that Gil gives Gullivar white hair like himself, as he invariably did with his heroes ( Rex Jaxan in Star Hawks & Captain Mar-Vell to name but two ). Wish fulfillment?
Here's the first episode.


  1. Yeah, this was a fun little series wasn't it? I first came across it as a British Marvel reprint in the back of, I think, Planet Of The Apes. Lots of mad characters like the wing-men and Phra, and some lovely Kane artwork.
    BTW, Pete, thanx for following my blog.

  2. I knew I'd first read Gullivar in a british b/w but couldn't remember which one! Thanks for that.

  3. every panel is burnt on my psyche
    as above

  4. The character "Lu-Pov" was Roy Thomas' nod to All in Color for a Dime and Comic-Book Book editor/author Richard Lupoff, in whose footsteps Roy's followed with his own comics history books like All-Star Companion.

  5. Yes, it was indeed Planet of the Apes - looking through them now, in fact, whilst doing some research for my Marvel UK book (From Cents... to Pence) - where Gullivar first appeared... and it was so good that it appeared again in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back a few years later :-)

  6. Hope there's lots about Apeslayer in your book, Rob...