John Carter (character)

John Carter (character)

John Carter is a fictional character, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who appears in the Martian series of novels. Though actually a Virginian from Earth and a visitor to Mars, he is often referred to as "John Carter of Mars" in reference to the general setting in which his deeds are recorded, in the time-honored tradition of other heroes (such as Lawrence of Arabia). The character is an enduring one and has appeared in various media following his 1912 serialized debut.


John Carter first appeared in "A Princess of Mars", the first Burroughs novel set on the fictionalized version of Mars that the author dubbed "Barsoom." Written between July and September 28, 1911, it was serialized as "Under the Moons of Mars" in the February to July 1912 issues of the magazine "All-Story" and first published in book form in October 1917.

Carter reappeared in subsequent volumes of the series, most prominently in the second, "The Gods of Mars" (1918), the third, "The Warlord of Mars" (1919), the eighth, "Swords of Mars" (1936), the tenth, "Llana of Gathol" (1948), and the eleventh, "John Carter of Mars" (1964). John Carter is also a major secondary character in the fourth volume, "Thuvia, Maid of Mars" (1920), and the ninth, "Synthetic Men of Mars" (1940).

Andrew Stanton of Pixar has confirmed that his next project is going to be a film adaptation of John Carter of Mars for Pixar Animation Studios.Fact|date=October 2008


Carter stands 6′2″ tall and has close-cropped black hair and steel-gray eyes. Burroughs portrays him as an immortal being. In the opening pages of "A Princess of Mars", the author reveals to the reader that Carter can remember no childhood, having always been a man of about thirty years old. Many generations of families referred to him as "Uncle Jack," but he always lived to see all the members of the families grow old and die, while he remained young.

His character and courtesy exemplify the ideals of the antebellum South. A Virginian who served as a captain in the American Civil War, he strikes it rich by finding gold in Arizona after the end of hostilities. While hiding from Apaches in a cave, he seemingly dies, and leaving his inanimate body behind is mysteriously transported by a form of astral projection to the planet Mars, where he finds himself re-embodied in a form identical to his earthly one. Used to the greater gravity of Earth, he is much stronger than the natives.

Character biography

On Mars, which its natives call Barsoom, Carter encounters both formidable alien creatures resembling the beasts of ancient myth and various humanoids and finds his true calling in life as a warrior-savior of the planet's inhabitants. He wins the hand of Martian princess Dejah Thoris of Helium, but ultimately sacrifices himself to save Barsoom. Awakening again after this second death he finds he has been miraculously transported back to Earth, and his original body. Carter then earns great wealth as a result of a find of a rich vein of gold ore. Unable to return to Mars, he spends his last years in a small cottage on the Hudson River in New York, where he once more dies on March 4, 1886.

Again, Carter's apparent demise is not a true death; rather, he is restored to Barsoom, where after more adventures he rises to the position of Warlord of Mars. He afterwards returns to Earth on a number of occasions to relate his adventures to his nephew (Burroughs), revealing that he has mastered the process of astral travel between the two worlds. During his adventures on Mars his earthly body reposes in a special tomb that can only be opened from the inside.

John Carter and Dejah Thoris become the parents of a son, Carthoris, and daughter, Tara. Carthoris plays a secondary role in "The Gods of Mars" and "The Warlord of Mars", and is the protagonist of "Thuvia, Maid of Mars". Tara is the heroine of "The Chessmen of Mars" (1922), and the mother of Carter's granddaughter Llana, heroine of "Llana of Gathol".

Origin of name

Long-standing Burroughs fans often debate where the name for the John Carter character came from. Some believe Burroughs simply imagined it while others contest that it came from either a combination of names from real people he knew (a John and a Carter) or from a real fellow by the name of John Carter who served as the author's mechanic. The truth is lost in history. Interestingly, Carter is a name identified with the First Families of Virginia.

John Carter earned the name Dotar Sojat, which is a combination of the names of the first two Barsoomian Tharks he defeated on Barsoom.

In other media

Carter appeared in various Big Little Books of the 1930s and 1940s and has appeared as well in numerous adaptations of the Martian stories, notably in a 1994-1995 storyline in Tarzan's Sunday comic strip [ [ Edgar Rice Burroughs' TARZAN From 1994 & 1995, Sunday Pages with JOHN CARTER OF MARS] from ERBzine 2121] and various comic book series, including Marvel Comics' "John Carter, Warlord of Mars", two appearances in Alan Moore's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". In the story "Allan and the Sundered Veil" that appeared in the end of volume one, Moore states that H. P. Lovecraft's Randolph Carter is a descendant of John Carter. He also appears in the beginning of volume two, helping the Barsoomians fight the Martians from "The War of the Worlds". The same scenario also appeared in the Burroughs entry in the "" anthology.

One of the protagonists of Robert A. Heinlein's "The Number of the Beast" is a Captain Zebediah John Carter- the fact is commented on, since all of the protagonists are fans of science fiction from this period.

ee also

*Hugo Danner


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