The Dream Vaults of Opar
 
 

The Treasure Vaults of Fandom

    I suppose those thousand-dollar-plus prices quoted for Edgar Rice Burroughs first editions are legitimate (though I'm skeptical about how briskly copies sell at those prices). Some of us, no doubt, are kicking ourselves for not having stashed away dozens of duplicates when the cost was still within the realm of reason. For those of us who have neglected to provide for retirement by this simple expedient, I have good news. It's still not too late to make a killing on old ERB.
    Let me make a prediction: The next boom market for collectors--still far enough down the road that we have time to get in close to the ground floor--will be fanzines.
    Though copies aren't offered for sale on a regular basis and the auction houses haven't discovered them yet, old issues of The Burroughs Bulletin, ERB-dom, and Erbania are already going for fair amounts of money. This isn't really surprising. After all, these magazines are already highly prized by the collectors who own them. You think $1,800 is steep for a first edition of  Jungle Girl? Wait till you start seeing hundred-dollar issues of The Burroughs Bulletin!
    I won't try to guess how far away we are from that day. Most of the highly priced Burroughs first editions are more than fifty years old now, but they were produced in editions well exceeding the print runs of the ERB fanzines. It isn't unlikely that fanzine prices will start to escalate by the late nineteen nineties.
    "But," you say, "it's already difficult to acquire those old issues." Exactly the point, and it isn't going to get any easier.
    And even if you can't find multiple copies of ERB-dom #1 to invest in, new ERB fanzines continue to be published--Erbania, Tarzine, The Edgar Rice Burroughs News Dateline. They're available at reasonable prices, too.
    It continues to amaze me that these secondary source materials have not yet been acknowledged by academia. Some resistance to them is understandable, I suppose; after all, many of the scholarly journals really aren't anything but glorified fanzines themselves, and their inevitable comparison would constitute an embarrassment that Academia may well wish to avoid. The forty-year wealth of material about ERB and his creations contained in those amateur publications represents a scholar's dream. I feel reasonably confident, especially now that ERB has a toe-hold in a few of our universities, that this treasure trove will eventually be recognized--and the demand for these publications will increase.

    The rarest of all the fanzines, and the one most likely to escalate in value and be rabidly sought after in future years, is in your hands at this moment. Fifty copies. No more; that's all there are. If you don't already have them, the chances are you'll never find copies for sale. Yes, I refer to our own ERB-APA, and once the broader reaches of fandom discover this cornucopia--watch out! Fifty dollars a mailing? A hundred? More than that? (Pardon me while I go lock up my copies.)
    Here's another thought for you: Have you considered that your contributions will almost certainly be perused by posterity? Based on the evidence provided by earlier fanzines, I can practically guarantee that fresh eyes will be reading these very words in fifty years--so watch what you say!
    . . . That wasn't a reassuring thought. My bad habit of not working far enough in advance on these submissions seems to recur with quarterly frequency. Once again I find myself near a deadline, without even time to glance back through the mailing so that I can offer intelligent mailing comments. And so instead of something substantive, posterity finds me here offering the equivalent of a chatty letter.

    Concerning this business of restricting contributors to the single topic of ERB: As I understood it, and as it was spelled out in the original flyer that John Guidry sent to prospective members, we are each expected to contribute two pages per mailing concerning our favorite author; after that, however, we are free to add as many more pages as we please concerning anything we care to write about--Burroughs-related or not. After all, we're paying for the printing, so it's our prerogative. There is a check on this freedom of expression, of course; we must be willing to endure the brickbats of our fellow contributors if they find us dull or distasteful. In other words, we have to adhere to community standards, or duck.
    For eleven mailings now I've been pleasantly surprised to see just how ERB-dominated the mailings have been. I'd expected that after the first two or three we would all be searching for things to say and turning in desperation to our other interests. That hasn't happened. I haven't even had a chance to mention Fredric Brown or Alexander Dumas, pere (does anyone out there have any unusual Dumas titles for trade or sale--or Little, Brown editions?); and poor old Jack London has only been referred to in passing. Theodore Sturgeon died and I didn't even get to say a word in his memory. (I had the pleasure of meeting him at the World Science Fiction Convention in Miami--or was it Phoenix?--and spending several hours at his table chatting with him; he was every bit as witty and charming as I expected. It was one of the delights of my literary life.)
    This may change, of course, since so little is happening regarding ERB. No new publications, movies, television series, cartoons, or comics. How sad.

    My day-to-day existence has been brightened by the appearance of the new Gladstone line of Disney comics--reprints of the wonderful Carl Barks stories, colored reprints of the marvelous Mickey Mouse daily strips by Floyd Gottfredson, which I was not previously familiar with, and newly translated stories from other countries. (Having an excuse to purchase such items is one of the perks of fatherhood.) This company, organized and run by fans who convinced the Disney organization to license them the rights, is producing superb newsstand comics that are clearly works of love. It looks like they're going to be successful and stay in business for a long time. They deserve to, because for once someone is doing it right. The Gottfredson stories are real eye-openers, showing just how well dailies can be reproduced in this format. As far as I can tell they are not edited or abridged.
    This is the company to bring Tarzan back to the drug stores, if they can ever expand past Disney. Manning's dailies, rendered in this fashion with such loving care and published as a serial, would go a long way toward reviving Tarzan.

--December 10, 1986
 
Carl Barks' Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic albums from Gladstone, and more.

Guide to Tarzan Collectibles by Glenn Erardi, a full-color photographic guide to Tarzan books, comics, films, toys, and more.

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Copyright © 1999 Patrick H. Adkins. All rights reserved.