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#540120 - 04/02/09 10:51 AM YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS
Jennifer M. Contino Offline
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Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA

BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
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, looses 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 Burrough's 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 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 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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#540125 - 04/02/09 12:41 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: Jennifer M. Contino]
Juss Offline
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Registered: 08/24/04
Posts: 259
Isn't it time for new John Carter novels? Barsoom is much, much larger than Africa, so that unlike with the Tarzan series, where exotic races and continents seemed on the point of crowding each other off the continent, Burroughs' Mars still had a lot of unexplored territory when John Carter's adventures stopped--and at that, in the *middle* of "Skeleton Men of Jupiter!" What *did* happen next?!

This interview brings up nagging questions begging to be answered about John Carter:

1) Why *didn't* he remember?

2) *Was* he really immortal? If not, how old was he?

3) Why did he fight for the Confederacy? Was it family loyalty, or friendship? But if he regaled Burrough's "old grandmother with stories of his strange, wild life in all parts of the world," and if he were immortal, or even extremely long-lived, might he not have been an American at all? Did the family or friends he might have fought for know more about him than he himself did?

4) Tom Yeats says "he was from the Confederacy" (but was he really?) "but falls in love with a woman who isn't white." What about that? I never asked that question before, myself, simply taking Carter's/Burroughs' word for it that she was simply hot, hot, hot!--and that was quite enough for me. But maybe this bears at least a little thought.

And many more questions. Needless to say, I find Barsoom fascinating. And while I know of Moorcock's pastiche, "Kane of Old Mars," I'm more interested in what would come out of new stories, set on the dead sea-bottoms of ancient, crumbling Barsoom, beneath its hurtling, twin moons.

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#540134 - 04/02/09 03:06 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: Juss]
Joe Lee Offline
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Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 12277
The art for this book looks absolutely beautiful.

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#540151 - 04/02/09 04:46 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: Joe Lee]
Bring Back Zot Offline
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Registered: 06/05/05
Posts: 2438
Yeates is really in his prime. His story for the Image next issue project was spectacular.

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#540155 - 04/02/09 06:08 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: Bring Back Zot]
Joe Lee Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 12277
"The Golden Knight in Circle of Power?"

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#540166 - 04/02/09 08:19 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: Joe Lee]
necrotechno Offline
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Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 3058
Spot illustrations? Pass.
_________________________
And here slip I, dragging one foot in the gutter...

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#540195 - 04/03/09 09:49 AM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: necrotechno]
Jennifer M. Contino Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA
Well it's a book, not a comic book. smile
Jen

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#540207 - 04/03/09 11:22 AM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: necrotechno]
Joe Lee Offline
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Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 12277
Originally Posted By: necrotechno
Spot illustrations? Pass.


Snob.

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#540235 - 04/03/09 06:56 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: Joe Lee]
necrotechno Offline
Member

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 3058
I am that. But I'm not alone.

When I worked in the comic shop, we kept the GN's sealed in poly bags (if somebody wanted to look inside, we'd open them). Many people bought the Hellboy prose novels without looking, then later brought them back asking if they could get a refund. I got to where when somebody brought one to the register, I pointed out it was a prose novel with spot illos. The customers put it back on the shelf every time.
_________________________
And here slip I, dragging one foot in the gutter...

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#540251 - 04/03/09 09:34 PM Re: YEATES' TIME WITH JOHN CARTER OF MARS [Re: necrotechno]
RANDY Offline
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Registered: 05/12/00
Posts: 2343
Loc: U.S.A.
Originally Posted By: necrotechno
I am that. But I'm not alone.

When I worked in the comic shop, we kept the GN's sealed in poly bags (if somebody wanted to look inside, we'd open them). Many people bought the Hellboy prose novels without looking, then later brought them back asking if they could get a refund. I got to where when somebody brought one to the register, I pointed out it was a prose novel with spot illos. The customers put it back on the shelf every time.


That's really surprising. I find it hard to believe that comics fans are that opposed to illustrated prose over comics. I read the first couple of Hellboy prose novels written by Christopher Golden with illustrations by Mike Mignola and really enjoyed them. In any case the Yeates illustrations look stupendous and since I've never read any of Burroughs Mars books I'm going to have to get a copy for myself.

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