A DUAL BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: Painted and selected by Jusko — who turns 64 — in honor of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who was born 148 years ago…

How’s this for a twofer — the great Edgar Rice Burroughs and one of the greatest artists to portray his greatest character, Tarzan, share a birthdate. Yep, ERB was born Sept. 1, 1875, and famed fantasy painter Joe Jusko was born Sept. 1, 1959.

Not just that, Jusko just completed a four-year project painting all the covers for new editions of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Authorized Library. Over the course of the past 111 years, this is the first time all 24 Tarzan covers have been painted by the same artist. You can click here to get your hands on these pulp and artistic masterpieces.

Now since it’s a double-birthday, it only seemed fitting to rank the TOP 13 COVERS Jusko did for the project. Best part? Joe, an occasional 13th Dimension contributor, agreed to rank them himself — with commentary on each.

So break out your Mego Tarzan, let out a Carol Burnett yell, and dig these gorgeous paintings, sans trade dress. (My only other note? They’re all fab but when you get to No. 1, Joe and I are in total agreement.)

Right on.

13. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Tarzan and the knight were fun to paint, but the real joy for me was in rendering that castle. One of the instances where the setting is as important as the figures in telling a story.

12. Tarzan and the Ant Men. By scrunching Tarzan down as much as possible, I was able to pull in tightly so as to clearly showcase the swarm of Ant Men. I’m really happy with the kinetic chaos on this cover.

11. Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. An all-out action scene with everything I love to paint in it. This should certainly have been placed higher on the list, but so many of them could be shifted about with little argument.

10. Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. There’s no way to avoid one of the most iconic scenes in the book. The flying Thipdar is a bit smaller than described, but a bit of artistic license was warranted in this case. The eternally curving horizon of Pellucidar was fun to realize.

9. Tarzan and the Castaways. The last book in the series. I didn’t want it to look like I blew it out just to get it done, so I overcompensated just a little bit. Researching all the Mayan clothing and weaponry was a lot of fun.

Not yet released, hence the watermarks

8. Tarzan the Magnificent. A really busy and complicated composition that worked out as I had hoped mainly due to the lighting. I love painting old stone though the tile floor was a bear to paint, but it’s the kind of detail that makes a piece just a little more special.

Not yet released, hence the watermarks

7. Return of Tarzan. There is no way one can avoid the depiction of the high priestess, La of Opar, when illustrating a series of Tarzan covers. Arguably the most popular recurring female character among Tarzan fans. Sorry, Jane.

6. Tarzan’s Quest. The rear perspective and depth of the painting helps portray the idea of the quest alluded to in the title. The plane I chose to depict is completely accurate to the year the story takes place. A small detail often gotten wrong by many an artist: African monkeys do not have prehensile tails, only a select few in Central and South America.

5. Tarzan and the Golden Lion. Full out manic action that hopefully begs the question, “What the hell is going on here”? and makes the reader pick up the book to find out. I used the large gorilla as a framing device to draw your attention to Tarzan so as not to have him lost in a large crowd of figures.

4. Tarzan the Untamed. My first scene choice for this cover was painted by the incredible George Wilson for the Gold Key Comics adaptation Tarzan #163, so I went in a totally different direction. My favorite cover from a composition and design perspective. There’s the unwritten law in comics that you don’t show the main character from the back on a cover, but in the real book world its how the image best tells the story that counts.

3. Tarzan the Invincible. I had painted a much simpler version of this scene for my ERB trading cards back in the 1990s. It was a tiny piece that I’ve always want to repaint, so I took this opportunity to reinterpret it for the cover. I love painting lions and decrepit textures!

2. Son of Tarzan. As in your face and 3D as I could get. I’d love to see this in a View-Master! The limited palette and lighting gave me just the mood I was looking for. My wife’s favorite cover.

1. Tarzan and the Lion Man. My favorite! An ambitious dual composition that screams “Saturday Matinee Serial!” It was a lot to get into one painting but it still works as a complete narrative. Little details like the diffused underwater blood cloud are what make painters happy with the final product.

The books in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Authorized Library are available through various booksellers but also directly from the official ERB website. Click here.



— JOHN BUSCEMA: A Birthday Appreciation, by JOE JUSKO. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Phenomenal pieces from a great artist. My favorite is Tarzan’s Quest or The Golden Lion.

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