Christopher A. Fulkerson
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a fun calendar and I enjoy having it on the wall, but the iconography is not always clear and, as usual with these things, not wholly consistent with the books. This calendar is basically about flaunting sex and keeping violence in check, which is a reasonable agenda for the Burroughs Mars novels.
This year of 2012 is the anniversary of the publication of Edgar Rice Burroughs' first novel, which was A PRINCESS OF MARS, of the Mars books depicted here, and with the release in this Centennial of the Disney film JOHN CARTER it is good to get with the whole calendar business. There are a few Earth dates scattered throughout the Burroughs Mars novels, and other dates that it might be possible to deduce from the chain of events, taking into consideration the difference between the 24 hour Earth day and the 25 hour Martian day. Many of the novels begin with an Earth day and a story that keeps the first several days discrete, so it may be possible to speculate with some plausibility about what occurs on some other days. Assembling a coherent calendar is a good task for a Burroughs Mars fan.
The depictions of John Carter are not all consistent with his character, and the females cannot all be Dejah Thoris. I think the March image is the best on these two counts, and that's good, since that's the month the Disney JOHN CARTER film came out, just a few days, in fact, after the anniversary of Carter's mysterious teleportation to Mars, which occurs the first time on March 4, 1866, and the second time on March 4, 1886. Since Burroughs is clearly giving us some kind of bare bones calendrical schedule, I watch the calendar with a certain interest. In the March image, Carter is defending Dejah; he does not look crazed, which is never his mental mode unless he is starved or long imprisoned, and she has the oval face Burroughs invariably attributes her with, and the firm at least medium size boobs required for credibility with all us adolescents. The Cover/January image perhaps is Dejah but the face is not oval; the table of contents image of Carter is too bad-boy crazed, that's not him; February works as the sort of thing Carter is thinking of Dejah while away from her; April absolutely cannot be Dejah Thoris. It could be Thuvia I suppose. There is no call for bare feet; that detail is wrong. Throughout the calendar the images of the Green Men are not satisfactorily consistent. The image in May might be a proper Dejah; she has too much character in her face, and Dejah Thoris is an "absolute" beauty, but maybe there is room for more than one icon. However, why have more than one icon in the same calendar, that is confusing. This image of, perhaps, Dejah appears in December, where certain prominent attributes are correct, but she looks like an "everyday girl," and the March image is always to be preferred. June reminds me of the porn star Lisa Ann, and so I'd take her, though Lisa Ann would rightly be disappointed with the small boob size and that's a little hard in the face for Dejah, so I think the Lisa Ann look is of some other Martian queen. July would make a good Thuvia, or a Dejah perhaps, but the oval face is not evident enough to prefer this image over the March image. She is very comely however and inviting, and a good mood for Carter's and Dejah's son Carthoris, who is married to Thuvia. Or, this could be a Tara of Helium, or her youth suggests it could be Llana of Gathol. August is not the mood of Dejah; my guess is this is another Martian woman, possibly a Thuvia, though Thuvia is associated more with Banths than swords. Again and again, this calendar reveals it is not thoroughly thought through, this is not the stuff of Burroughs fans, just, usually, kid stuff. And no one in surprised at that.
The image in September is good of both John Carter and Dejah Thoris, though the legs on the woman are a little thick for Dejah Thoris's wonted daintiness. Basically, Dejah Thoris has an "oval" face, a slight body, and probably should have really magnificent breasts, which look good not so much in a bikini-style swimsuit design, but in a forward-thrusting ornamental and supporting suit made of jewelry and wisps of colored silk, that give her sexuality a voluptuous enhancement that should be sensuous yet of graceful militancy. It is clear from the way John Carter speaks of her that Dejah Thoris's personality is of beauty that commands through sheer presence. She has the same appearance in court that she has the moment before John Carter begins the brief task of disrobing her for penetration, and indeed her "clothing" does not prohibit this in any case. These are the types of male fantasy that I think Dejah Thoris invokes. The woman whom I think best suits Dejah Thoris is the Polish model Ewa Sonnet; very oval face; big, natural boobs; no waist, as typified in her "ES" beach T-Shirt. Other actresses who would make good models for Martian women are Lynda Carter, as a sympathetic and wise queenly figure; and Rocki Roads, who would look "off" of her usual imagery enough in a forehead diadem and Thern's blonde wig, and has enough of high-profile bad girl about her, and whose face and body are such a triple threat to any other woman's beauty, that I think she would make a good Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang, who makes the most persistent (though of course useless) bid for John Carter's affections; or perhaps a Sonoma Tora. Perhaps Lynda could play Rocki's mother. Phaidor has to have the kind of beauty that a man seems out of his mind not to choose her (and that is her attitude). I would suggest Nina Hartley as a possible Valla Dia or women's spiritual advisor or other Jed's Consort. When you can find her without that insipid smile, Denise Milani is suitable as almost any Martian woman. She would make a good Dejah Thoris to Lisa Ann's Phaidor. I conclude that the sexuality of the Red Martians, and probably of the yellow race; is of a fairly "honorable" sort of sequential polygamy until and after the time of monogamous commitment; of the Therns, absolutely unregulated promiscuity of an extremely athletic and performance-oriented sort (they are the real porn stars of Mars), given to ritual sex, including group sex and incest; of the Black Pirates, frequent casual and arbitrary relations, with only a pretence of monogamy, and which also disregard familial restrictions; of the Green Martians, completely cold coupling for purposes of procreation only but secretly of extreme pleasure (otherwise there would be no motivation for atavisms like Tal Hajus). Carter's reports of the denizens of various prisons and pits indicate that procreation is, in fact, possible between the races; a calendar with real horrors in the detail could include these prodigies. There is no discussion of how beasts cover their mates but the animals are in general capable of more personality than Earth creatures, and some language and telepathic skills; in his short story "The Ape-Man of Mars" Peter S. Beagle has posited an interesting Earth-Mars evolutionary syzygy that might result in some pretty interesting possibilities if it is handled in a way that is completely faithful to the Burroughs originals (obviously this is a problem with the Burroughs franchise).
November's image is interesting. It is a little too much of a fantasy, not an actual scene, more like the ingredients of a story. A number of personality attributes are off from Carter and Dejah. It is possible that all of the men in the calendar are meant to be understood as John Carter, and they all look alike, with the possible exception of the guy in November. Since that face is different and the Great White Ape is in an ideological position overhead, and since the woman does not quite answer to the description of the other possible Dejah Thoris images, I suggest that these characters are the Earthman Ulysses Paxton, known on Mars as Vad Varo, protege of the Master Mind of Mars, and his beloved wife, Valla Dia. Read THE MASTER MIND OF MARS to understand the presence of the ape in conjuction with the story of these lovers.
Again, December's Dejah Thoris, if that is Dejah Thoris, is too much a pouty-lipped, big-butt street girl, whom I doubt John Carter would have as his ideal; this is more of a comic book character than a proposal for any proper Dejah Thoris icon.
The best images, meaning the most probable according to the Burroughs iconography, are January, March, July, and September. The worst is the crazed John Carter on the Table of Contents. John Carter does not have a bad-boy element in his personality, and the times he is crazed are all understandable, as when he is by his own admission reduced to gibberish by being imprisoned for months in the dark, or without food, etc.
I would hope that the publishers of this calendar would research future calendars a little more and put some of Carter's dates on it, as well as try to make it clearer who it is that is being depicted in the images. A good start would be if the artists, or at least the art director, actually read the books.