The B&N John Carter of Mars Project
tyeates@arrowflight.com

John Carter of Mars (Library of Wonder): A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thomas Yeates (Illustrator), Michael Ashley (Introduction)
Hardcover ~ 504 pages ~
$12.98 Membership discounts apply
Available at your local Barnes & Noble store

or
Order online HERE

YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS - An Interview
Comicon.com ~ April 2, 2009
Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars returns this September in a handsome edition collecting the first three novels in the series. Thomas Yeates is providing spot illos and other drawings to bring these adventures to life. Yeates told us what influenced him the most as he brought this strange visitor to an alien land to life. "My vision of Carter is based mainly on Burrough's descriptions of him. But also on the superb art of Reed Crandall, Roy Krenkel and J. Allan St. John, all of whom did lots of wonderful John Carter illustrations, [Frank] Frazetta too."

THE PULSE: How did you get involved in the John Carter of Mars books that Barnes & Noble is publishing later this year?

THOMAS YEATES: Gary Gianni recommended me to the art director. The job was offered to Gary but he was too busy. Gary had seen some John Carter commissioned art I'd done and recommended me based on seeing those commissions.

THE PULSE: What did you know about this character? Was this one you were intimately familiar with or one you just knew a few bits and pieces of?

YEATES: I don't quite know everything about him, but almost. I read most of the series of books back in the seventies, and I'd re-read the first book a few years ago. So it was still fairly fresh on my mind. I listened to the first three novels on tape while I was sketching the scenes.

THE PULSE: I know a lot of people who like this Edgar Rice Burroughs creation more than Tarzan. Are you one of those folks or was the Ape Man your favorite of Burroughs' eclectic creations?

YEATES: While I do prefer the character Tarzan, I must admit that I think the Mars series may be a little better written. By that I mean that the completely fantasized world of Burroughs' Mars allowed the writer's wild imagination to really cut loose, where as in some of the later Tarzan stories the very real Africa may have been a bit of a limitation on that imagination. But of course if Burroughs had written as many Mars novels as he did Tarzans he may have eventually slacked off on a few later ones like he did with Tarzan. He only wrote eleven Mars books, as compared with twenty five Tarzans.

THE PULSE: Who is John Carter of Mars? How did he wind up on Mars? What sets him apart from a Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers or anyone else who finds himself on another planet ....?

YEATES: J. C. is an enigma, an eternal fighting man who never ages, but always appears about thirty. When the story begins he has just lost everything in the American War Between the States where he was a Captain from Virginia, so he heads west in search of gold. While hiding from Apaches in a mysterious Arizona cave he is overcome by some sort of gas, loses consciousness, and wakes up having separated from his earthly body, which appears to be lying dead at his feet. Looking out of the cave at the night sky he sees the planet Mars, his god, the god of the fighting man, and is mystically, instantly, teleported there. Or something like that.

According to Al Williamson there is a quote from Alex Raymond somewhere saying that he was basically doing John Carter when he did Flash Gordon. And if you read the early Flash Gordon strips it's pretty obvious. John Carter is more of a swashbuckler to me than the others. His prowess is based on his swordsmanship in a culture where swordsmanship is all important. I haven't read Buck Rogers, but I think there is quite a bit more technology in those stories. Burroughs was one of the very first to have a huge commercial success with this type of series, generating a big fan base in the first generation of science fiction fans, the Ray Bradbury, Forry Ackerman, Jerry Segal generation. So what makes John Carter different is that he was one of the first. Also, his work in general is just more rich, more wild, more primitive than the others. Though I must say I love a whole lot of that pulp type stuff, not just Burroughs.

THE PULSE: What do you find the most intriguing about this concept? How does it stir your imagination?

YEATES: The same as with all of the artists who've been lucky enough to illustrate Burroughs, his terrifically wonderful visuals. The unconquerable heroic spirit inspired me, which is not unique to Burroughs. Being an unrepentant sixties radical I love how irreverent Burroughs is. Also for me the figure drawing is a big plus, as his characters rarely wear much. I love that the hero is from the Confederacy but falls in love with a woman who isn't white. You add all that up and it's a great job for me to get. Thank you Gary!

THE PULSE: Who or what influenced you the most as you were taking some passages from Edgar Rice Burroughs' source material and creating scenes to accompany the works?

YEATES: That was interesting. At first I just picked scenes that I wanted to draw, that were exciting to me or easy for me conjure up. But then I decided to approach it more like a comic book, where storytelling is the big priority. I then picked scenes that if you just flipped through the book and looked at the pictures they would sort of relate what happens. I did the exciting battles scenes but also scenes that show the various settings, the journeys, and the characters. I start with a portrait of Carter in his Confederate uniform for example to show that's who he is at that point in the story. So I think my approach to this benefited from my decades drawing comics.

THE PULSE: How did you come up with the way John Carter would look in these pages? Did Barnes and Noble already have established character design sheets or did they leave it up to your own interpretation?

YEATES: My vision of Carter is based mainly on Burroughs' descriptions of him. But also on the superb art of Reed Crandall, Roy Krenkel and J. Allan St. John, all of whom did lots of wonderful John Carter illustrations, [Frank] Frazetta too. The art director figured I knew more about John Carter than they did so they left it up to me. As in most of my art there is some Williamson influence too.

THE PULSE: What are some of the challenges of capturing a scene and conveying the emotion and heart from a passage?

YEATES: As with any assignment, just keep your eye on the ball. Don't get distracted by a less important detail. For better or worse I've got Burroughs in my blood so with this type of job it's easier for me to stay on target than with others.

THE PULSE: What kind of approval process was there for the art? Did you have to do thumbnails and then complete the larger picture or were you given freedom to just draw what you thought best?

YEATES: Oh they wanted sketches first, which is preferable by far, to me. They made almost no changes to the scenes I choose.

THE PULSE: About how many illustrations are going to be in each volume of this Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars library?

YEATES: The final title is: Library of Wonder: Edgar Rice Burroughs: John Carter of Mars - A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars. The book is published by the Fall River imprint and is sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble. It will be out in September 2009.

As I understand it this is part of a series of three classic tales including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and one other book that Barnes & Noble are publishing as the Library of Wonder series. I did sixty black and white illustrations, thirty full page and thirty smaller spot illos for the first three Mars novels which are being published in one book.

THE PULSE: Are you the sole artist illustrating these or are there other artists who will be fleshing out passages as well?

YEATES: I am the sole artist on John Carter as far as I know at this point. Actually Michael Kaluta supplied me with the designs for the fliers Carter and company zoom around in.

THE PULSE: How was working on a project like this different than what you were doing with the Graphic Universe line of titles?

YEATES: The basic drawing was actually somewhat similar, sword fights, monsters, castles, heroes, beautiful women lots of outdoor stuff. The difference is obviously that this isn't comics so you are not integrating several panels into one cohesive page. Also I did not ink these drawings in the traditional way comics are inked, they are in wash, basically black and white watercolor.

THE PULSE: What other projects in or out of comics are you working on?

YEATES: Well, more of the same! I am painting a graphic novel called The Outlaw Prince based on Burroughs' Outlaw of Torn for Dark Horse. A wonderful medieval tale set in old England. And I am painting covers for the exciting Swords of Venus comic book series for Sequential Pulp. Wonderful tales. Eduardo Barreto is doing the inside art and Bruce Jones is adapting the script from Otis Albert Kline's old pulp novels from the thirties, which were inspired by ... John Carter.

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.
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This was my first time up the bosom of Iss, and the things
I saw there will live forever in my memory.

Springing upward, I struck him full in the face
as he turned at my warning cry.
. .
.
. .

As my machine sank among them
I realized that it was fight or die.

My sword found the spot that made
Sab Than jeddak of Zodanga.
.
.

The creatures slunk to her feet like puppies
that expect a merited whipping.

Slowly the stricken flier
sank to the ground.
. .

We came upon an opening 
that overlooked the Valley Dor.

He tried a dozen times to express his gratitude to me
but his voice choked with emotion and he could not speak.
. .
Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars Trilogy is published by Barnes & Noble with 60 new black and white illustrations by Thomas Yeates.  This single volume contains the first three books in Burroughs' Mars series, a masterpiece of science fiction regarded by many as Burroughs' greatest work.  These books inspired everyone from Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov to Disney/Pixar who is releasing a film of the first book in 2012, to NASA, who named a landmark on Mars after Burroughs.  This book is only available from Barnes & Noble -- pick one up there or order it online.
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Thomas Yeates Refreshes Burroughs' Barsoom
Posted by Steve in Arts, Books, Interviews, Reviews, The Magic Lantern - Steve Weintz on June 15th, 2010
Reprinted in Famous Monsters of Filmland
Last year Barnes & Noble commissioned Eisner Award-winning comics illustrator Thomas Yeates to illustrate its new edition of the first three Mars tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The handsome new volume, John Carter of Mars, contains A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, and The Warlord of Mars, which together comprise a trilogy recounting the fighting Virginianís arrival and ascendance on the Red Planet.

A Princess of Mars was Edgar Rice Burroughs' first book, written after a series of unsuccessful endeavors led him try his hand at bettering what he read in the pulps.  His next book was the now-obscure The Outlaw of Torn; Yeates has done his part to revive this overlooked tale of the Middle Ages by illustrating a full color graphic novel edition to be published by Dark Horse under the title The Outlaw Prince (part one).  Burroughs' third book was somewhat better received; Tarzan of the Apes went on to conquer every entertainment medium in use at the time or invented since.  A Princess of Mars and its two sequels were followed by eight more Martian novels, but unlike the Ape-Man has never had success in Hollywood; great hopes attend Pixarís [Ed: The Andrew Stanton directed Disney film scheduled for June 8, 2012 release] effort now underway.

Yeatesí art is infused with the spirit of high adventure and a healthy disregard for authority. Originally from Sacramento, he eventually moved to New Jersey to attend the first two years of the Joe Kubert School. He first got work doing back up stories in Sgt. Rock and various mystery and Science fiction comics at DC, then went on to Swamp Thing. After moving back to Northern California he drew Timespirits for Marvel/Epic and a number of projects for Eclipse including Brought to Light. A return to Swamp Thing and Dragon Lance graphic novels followed in the late eighties.

In the nineties he got to draw some of his favorite heroes, Tarzan and Zorro on various projects. Three Universe X and Paradise X specials for Marvel followed, and he helped Cary Nord pencil issues 3 Ė 14 of Conan for Dark Horse. Next up he did seven graphic novels like Robin Hood and Perseus for Lerner Publishing. Thomas is just now finishing two kids books on ancient myths by Anthony Horowitz titled Legends Ė Beasts and Monsters and Legends Ė Battles and Quests. Currently Yeates is also producing Conan art for Groo vs Conan with Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier for Dark Horse.

John Carter's first glimpse of Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Mars
John Carter's first glimpse of Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Mars. 
From the new Barnes & Noble edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 
John Carter of Mars illustrated 
by Thomas Yeates.
John Carter and Woola in the land of Kaol from The Warlord of Mars
John Carter and Woola in the land of Kaol
from The Warlord of Mars in
the new Barnes & Noble edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 
John Carter of Mars illustrated by Thomas Yeates.
 
FM: Tell us first about you and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and his version of Old Mars, Barsoom.

TY: Like most Burroughs fans I started reading his books in my youth, by high school I'd gone from his Tarzan series to his Mars series and beyond the farthest star, so to speak. I first was interested in his books because I liked Tarzan movies and because of the terrific Frazetta and Krenkel cover art on paperbacks Iíd seen. What keeps me interested in Burroughs today is his amazing vision of completely imaginary worlds and cultures, vividly described adventures and pointed amusing criticism of our own society, which he considered to be quite mad, and on that point I must say I agree with him. The first three John Carter books are among his best works and I absolutely had a blast illustrating them. I had always wanted to be a book illustrator, but there wasnít much of a market for that when I got started so I ended up drawing comic books. This new profusely illustrated edition of John Carter of Mars should still be available either at Barnes & Noble stores or from them online.

FM: Please talk about your connections to Forrest J Ackerman and Famous Monsters of Filmland.

TY: Famous Monsters was advertised in the old Warren Magazines, Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, which I pored over endlessly in my formative years, so I was aware of it, and thumbed through a few issues in the used book stores I haunted back then. This would have been the early seventies. In the late seventies I went to the Joe Kubert School and some of my classmates had issues of Famous Monsters laying around, probably Steve Bissette who was later my housemate; heís a walking encyclopedia of monsters, famous and otherwise. I would look through them and study the black and white stills, which helped me understand dramatic noir lighting on imaginary creatures.

In more recent years I learned about Forry's interest in Burroughs. I recall Forry at two gatherings of Burroughs fans that I also attended in Southern California. He talked about going in his youth to visit an aging Edgar Rice Burroughs and that Burroughs was a nice man in a modest house who came to the door in a wheelchair. At both events Forry invited all of us to his house afterwards. And what a house, it had previously belonged to Jon Hall, star of many adventure movies and a jungle TV series. The house was a virtual museum of Hollywood, pulp, horror and science fiction. From the moth-eaten remains of King Kongís armature and other movie monsters, to Draculaís cape and tons of art, it was a wonderful place to visit. I recommend those who are interested in this stuff to watch the video of Forry, Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen talking over lunch about their youth together. I think they'd all been friends since they were teenagers. They were among the very first fans of horror and science fiction, and seeing them reminiscing is a treat. The video is on a disk of Harryhausen's early short films of fairy tales. ["The Clifton's Cafeteria Reunion" on disc 2 of Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection.]


Early eighties "Swamp Thing" page for DC Comics.
Laid out by Steve Bissette, pencils and inks by Yeates with inking help from Ron Randall. 
Script by Martin Pasko, story idea by Yeates, colors by Tatiana Wood.

Illustration of Cheyenne Indian myth 
for new kid's book 
by Anthony Horowitz from McMillan UK.
 
FM: What were and are the major artistic influences upon you?

TY: As I mentioned, thereís Burroughs illustrators, black and white Warren horror comics illustrators like Al Williamson, Angelo Torres, Reed Crandall, Wallace Wood, Alex Toth, etc., and old black and white movies. But I am also influenced by anything around me that catches my eye and looks interesting. Iím always staring out the window at clouds, light and shade on branches, houses, people, animals birds, machinery, lizards, you name it. Artistically I am fascinated by the illustrators of the first half of the last century. Hal Foster and Alex Raymond were the comics masters, but there were many equally talented illustrators working in magazine, newspaper and book illustration. Obviously Burroughs illustrator J. Allen St. John is one, N. C. Wyeth another, but there were tons of them.


Cover art for issue one of a new IDW Jurassic Park comic book mini series. 
Written by Bob Schreck, cover art penciled and inked by Yeates, color by Jamie Grant.

FM: What interests you in imaginative entertainment today?

TY: For better of worse Iím really too busy to keep up on everything, but I catch a few things. I liked Avatar, which was very Burroughs-like; Lord of the Rings was great; I also was impressed by Panís Labyrinth. The films of Hayao Miyazaki are terrific. I love his vision, and Iím glad heís out there doing what heís doing. My teenaged daughter likes to get fantasy adventure films off Netflix, so I do see some of them. I loved The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Beowulf was pretty good, though the directorís cut I saw was way too bloody for my taste. I must say Iím a bit bored with the current recipe. Thatís why I liked Panís Labyrinth, Miyazaki and Parnassus so much, theyíre using different and more interesting recipes.

FM: If you could bring to life a lost or forgotten work, which one would it be?

TY: Well, letís see; thereís the first version of the third Tarzan film with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen OíSullivan. A big-budget MGM thirties spectacular that was completely re-written and re-shot as the film Tarzan Escapes that was released. Iíd love to see the first version, it had an attack by giant devil bats, but was never released and so far it remains lost. There is also the serial version of Tarzan the Fearless starring the great Buster Crabbe. The feature version thatís available is one of the worst Tarzan movies, but I like Buster otherwise and wish the serial, with all the additional footage, would turn up somewhere. There are other lost Tarzan films; Tarzan the Mighty, a silent movie with Frank Merrill, might actually be good. A Willis OíBrien concept with Vikings riding giant eagles fighting dinosaurs looked great, but War Eagles was never made. I love Willis OíBrienís films, the original King Kong is probably my favorite movie of all time.

FM: Thanks so much, Tom, for sharing your work and passion!

TY: Have fun storming the castle, Steve.

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