The Burroughs Boom

The Burroughs Boom

Pages from In Part Scal’d: The 1963 Fan Poll Results, published by Dick Eney

Back in the 1960’s, the publishing world experienced a Burroughs boom.  Following Edgar Rice Burroughs’ death in 1950, the next decade saw his works fading from public view, with most out of print.  That all changed in 1962, when several publishers realized that many of Burroughs earlier works were now public domain. Donald Wollheim of Ace perhaps took the greatest advantage of this, swiftly flooding the market with paperback reprints of Burroughs books, sporting great covers by Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta. This caused ERB, Inc. to look into their properties, and they soon inked deals with various publishers to bring out authorized editions of Burroughs’ works, including Ballantine for the Tarzan and Mars series and Ace for the Venus and Pellucidar series.

According to Life magazine, in 1962 the Tarzan novels being reprinted in paperback were runaway best-sellers.  That year, Burroughs books sold more than 10 million copies – roughly 1/30th of the total of all paperback sales for the year.

In going through some vintage fanzines and other fan publications a few months ago, I came across a copy of In Part Scal’d: The 1963 Fan Poll Results published by Dick Eney.  Inside was a two page article by Dick Lupoff, who recently passed away.  Among his other achievements, Lupoff was a significant figure in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ publishing (including through his editorial work at Canaveral Press, which brought many ERB works out in hardcover) and scholarship.

[Click the images for more legible versions.]

Article by Thomas Burnett Swann in the January 1969 issue of The WSFA Journal (#64)

The article “Burroughs Bounces Back” gives some insight into the early days of the 1960’s ERB revival.  Of particular interest is his take on Cyril Ralph Rothmund, who had been head of ERB, Inc., and whose disinterest in Burroughs’ works had contributed greatly to their unavailability in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Also among those fan publications was the January 1969 issue of The WSFA Journal (#64).  There I stumbled across a two page article by Thomas Burnett Swann, “Prodigal Praises,” in which Swann discusses his high regard for Burroughs.  Swann would be a noted fantasy author in the 1970’s.

Doug is a collector of pulps, as well as of pulp, science fiction and fantasy art. He co-founded and co-organizes the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention. For many years his Tattered Pages Press published the pulp fanzine Pulp Vault, as well as other books on the pulps. He was one of the authors of The Adventure House Guide to Pulps, and has edited several pulp anthologies, including the Best of Adventure series. His book, Uncovered: The Hidden Art Of The Girlie Pulps, an in-depth study of the spicy pulps and their art, was named ForeWord Magazine‘s 2003 Popular Culture Book of the Year. In 2013, Bob Weinberg, Bob Garcia and he collaborated on The Collectors’ Book of Virgil Finlay, a collection of Finlay’s gorgeous art. The Art of the Pulps, which he co-edited with Bob Weinberg and Ed Hulse, won the 2018 Locus Award for Best Art Book.

Doug’s last article for Black Gate was Adventures in Art Collecting: Windycon XXX

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas Parker

Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs by Richard Lupoff (in print in a very nice Bison Edition) gives a detailed history of the Burroughs Boom, in addition to being the essential book on ERB’s worlds and characters. If you love Burroughs, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

John E. Boyle

I second your recommendation of Lupoff’s book. Very detailed but still quite readable. Unfortunately, I believe Mr. Lupoff left us in October of this year.


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x