Saturday, April 14, 2012

Forgotten Hero Of Lemuria!

Lin Carter is a name I first remember from the Conan paperbacks, then soon thereafter in the comic book adaptations of his own hero Thongor at Marvel Comics. I developed a great respect for Carter when he served as editor for Ballantine's Fantasy line, which really opened up not only the world of fantasy for me, but to the world of finer (if not necessarily better) literature as well.

But Carter's first hero, his first book in fact seems to have been 1965's Wizard of Lemuria which is agreed by all to be an imitation of Robert E. Howard's mighty Hyborian hero Conan.

He followed that up quickly with a sequel titled logically enough Thongor of Lemuria. Both of these ACE paperbacks are graced with outstanding Gray Morrow artwork, making them highly collectable for fans of many types.

With the third novel from 1967, Frank Frazetta is brought aboard for the covers and he gives us an image of Thongor which puts the character forward in a truly heroic pose, in what is surely the most famous of the Thongor covers.

Frazetta is back for the fourth installment from 1968, this time showing the Lemurian hero astride a flying dinosaur over a volcanic landscape. It's not a bad cover at all.

For the fifth book also from 1968, Jeff Jones is brought in and offers up a very nice heroic pose for Thongor.

The first two Thongor novels novels were re-titled and revised and reissued by Berkely paperbacks.

Wishing to give the series a set of titles which were immediately recognizable, Thongor's name was made part of each and so added to the first novel. The artwork by Jeff Jones is worthy, but not spectacular by any means. Thongor is seen only above the logo sneaking in through a window, an odd pose for the hero of such a series.

The second novel is given a rather new and ponderous title and a new cover, again by Jones, this time Thongor too is put in a queer pose, his back to the reader.

Again in 1970 the last of the Thongor books limps onto the stands with another Jones cover, this one interesting, but hardly iconic.

And then Thongor ended. Some say Carter's interest turned away when he began working directly with Conan and the other heroes he admired, so his own creations suffered for want of time. He sure seemed to keep pumping them out though, with different heroes in different variations on classic Howard and Burroughs settings.

I didn't find Thongor anywhere though in his original format until I located the three paperbacks below from 1976 sporting Vincent DiFate covers which work mightily to minimize if not utterly eliminate any sense that Thongor is a hero in the tradition of Conan.

I am not aware that Thongor has been reprinted any time recently. Thongor seems to have landed on the dust heap of heroes, forgotten as once upon a time his land of Lemuria was forgotten before Carter gave us a glimpse.

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  1. I came to Carter's books in the late 70s, via images in Foom Magazine. Thongor is a hokey blend of ERB and REH but I devoured them as a teen. I also went on to enjoy Carter's Jandar of Callisto series (another Barsoom pastiche) and currently have an ebay copy of his second Green Star book on my "to-read" pile

  2. I gathered up Carter's stuff, as much as I could find back in the 70's. It seems every publisher had some of it to offer, and some of the series were impossible to track down. I don't have all the Callisto stuff. The Green Star stuff I have and it's a hoot, but it's been years and years since I read them. They read like popcorn, go down warm and pleasant and leave sometimes only a vague impression, but leave you with an overall nice feeling.

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