A good writer, who is passionate about what they are writing about, can turn any genre into a great story. In America, the superhero genre rules supreme. In the past, that was not always the case. In other parts of the world, that also is not the case. I love superhero comics. I also love comics in general. I have found great comics from other countries and from the past that were not of the superhero genre. One such genre was jungle stories.
As synonymous as Batman is to superhero comics, everyone knows of at least one jungle hero in Tarzan. Sheena isn’t far behind in recognition. You might be surprised, but during the ’40s and ’50s, jungle heroes were huge! Not only in comics, but on TV, in movies, and books!
Jungle Girls is from comic journalist and designer, Craig Yoe and published by Yoe Books and IDW. You might know Craig as the Creative Director, VP and general manager of Jim Henson’s Muppets and the Creative Director at Nickelodeon and Disney.
Yoe presents an overview of jungle comics. He focuses on the women of these comics. After reading Jungle Girls you will get a good taste of what was very popular at one time. Yoe focuses on Sheena, Princess Pantha, Rulah, Fantomah, Tygra, Judy of the Jungle and others. Jungle Girls features plenty of reprints of jungle comics featuring these women. These reprints include art from Matt Baker, Frank Frazetta, Jack Kamen, Bob Powell, Fran Hopper, and Everett Raymond Kinstler.
The stories that Yoe includes in Jungle Girls range from serious to campy to a mix of both. Prepare yourself for wild animals, evil plots, savages, magic, treasures, lots of spears, bullets, and vines as a taste of what’s to come. People in these stories often perish in horrible deaths and not all of them are deserving of it. The jungles of the Congo are not concrete but they remain just as violent as their noir cousins.
Today, Sheena and other jungle girls are associated with good girl art. Good girl art often lacks an actual story, letting whatever narrative set up the art as opposed to a plot. A lot of good girl art is just that.
Jungle comics, including jungle girl stories, have actual content to their stories. It is true, the content varied. Sometimes, jungle comic was a product of the time. Other times you would be pleasantly surprised at the content. One can find interesting ideas and possibilities in these comics.
If you, too, have an interest in jungle comics, you should check out Jungle Girls. If you don’t, you might after reading Yoe’s book.
That isn’t to say that Jungle Heroes don’t exist in today’s market. They do! Marvel’s famous movie famous Black Panther to Ka-Zar are obvious jungle heroes that should be mentioned. Shuri from Black Panther is an exciting new addition to jungle girls. Shanna from Ka-Zar is a popular jungle girl!
You can also find new adventures of Tarzan. Let’s not forget the other famous and long-running jungle hero, the Phantom.
Great things have been done with all these heroes. At the same time, they are also tethered to a pre-existing universe like Marvel. That, or a well-defined license like Tarzan or the Phantom.
My hopes are that you, inquisitive reader, will be interested in jungle comics. This could lead to new jungle comic stories getting published! It is still wild in the jungle. There is history, mystery, and fun to explore.
If you want to discover more of the jungle heroes of comics past explore:
Gwandanaland (a passionate publisher collecting over 2,000 trade papers worth of golden age comic) features dozens of jungle action collections
AC Comics (long time reprinter of the golden age and original comics) has a wide variety of jungle action comics.
Yoe Books / IDW also released “Fiction House: From Pulps to Panels, From Jungles to Space”. Written by Jungle Girls editor Mitch Maglop.
You can also check your local comic book stores back issue bins.