Jungle Jim was the first of the two Sunday comics drawn by Alex Raymond during his famous stint with King Features. He also drew the strip Flash Gordon for which he is much better known.
I had to reach back into dark little corner of the official Root Beer Party Comic achieves for this little gem, as it is in fact, a big little book, one of the many small collectable books published by the Whitman Publishing Company back in 1937. The book is actually authored by Don Moore who was also the writer for Flash Gordon, but Alex Raymond and his brilliant artistic style sort of outshone Moore who became sort of a ghost author to Alex Raymond’s celebrity.
This book actually contains two Jungle Jim story lines, in the first one we have Jim stumbling across a kidnapping of a woman and her infant child by a group of natives. The plot unravels as Jim discovers that she has been abducted by her ex-husband who is seeking revenge and uses his influence with the native tribes to abduct her.
The second story is our title feature, where Jim finds himself in the clutches of the Vampire woman. She is a cold hearted ruthless woman who has used the superstitions of the native people to her advantage to exploit them of their wealth. Jim must save the Reverend doctor and his daughter from the clutches of the vile woman as she seeks revenge for the Reverend causing her to go to prison for 10 years.
The books are classic 1930’s adventure comic style tales with lots of action and plot holes you could drive a truck through, but they are still quite entertaining and Raymond earns his keep in bringing these exotic locals to life through his art.
The book itself is a quick read. It has about a paragraph of text followed by an illustration taken from the comic on the next page. It doesn’t show the brilliance of Raymond’s full size color illustrations, but it dose a good job considering the time in which they were published.
Whitman Publishing Company also did larger versions of some of the comic collections in the same style, but it is the big little books which were the most popular and the most collectable today. Some of these can set you back quite a little bit of money. It is hard to find them in really good condition considering their age and the fact that most of them were bought for kids, but for a long time, this was the only way that many of these comic strips were preserved beyond the newspaper page.
Jungle Jim was popular enough to get a radio show as well as a serial series of films, but it was the period during the thirties with Moore and Raymond at the helm which made the series so successful. Other artists would follow Raymond, when he was away during the war and after he left the comic, but it is during Raymond’s term that it is considered to be the golden age of Jungle Jim.
This one is a little hard to find, you will have to hunt it down on e-bay or maybe a used book dealer on Amazon, but be mindful of condition, both inside and out when you are looking at these things. Kids would often have a try at coloring the drawing in, which will really hurt the value of the book, so don’t overpay for something like this without checking it out and asking questions.
There are some other collections of Jungle Jim which have been published over the years, so you do have options if you want to read them as a comic as opposed to a book format, but there is an appeal to these tiny little books that pack quite a lot of action and adventure in such a small package.
We here at the Root Beer Party enjoy comics in all sorts of formats, so keep an open mind and explore all sorts of options when building your own comic’s library and as always, until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.