May 12, 2017

Akim and Jim: Tarzan and Boy of European comics

One of the more popular Tarzan clones was Akim, Son of the Jungle, created by Italian cartoonist Roberto Renzi and artist Augusto Pedrazza.  In Italy Tarzan clones are called Tarzanidi.

During his run in Italy (1950-1967), he was exported to France for 700+ issues, Germany for 500+ issues, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Greece (where he was renamed Tarzan).  Hundreds of issues appeared through the 1960s and 1970s, with ironic "new adventures" in the 1990s. has them for sale for between 5 and 10 euros.

Some of the rarest appeared in this single-strip per page format.  Here Akim fights the Biblical muscleman Samson.

Akim's back story is nearly identical to that of Tarzan:

Count Frederick Rank, the British ambassador to Calcutta, is shipwrecked on the wild coast of Africa along with his wife and infant son, Jim.  The parents soon die, leaving the toddler to be raised by gorillas.

Grown up, he becomes Akim, Son of the Jungle, with various animals at his command.  He marries the British heiress Rita, and they adopt a son, Jim, who turns into buffed blond man-mountain.

In most adventures, they leave Rita back at the tree house and venture out as a pair, leaving all of the gay subtexts of the 1940s Tarzan movies starring Johnny Weissmuller and Johnny Sheffield.

Sometimes Jim goes out adventuring on his own, requiring Akim to rescue him from the usual jungle poachers, cannibals, and lost civilizations, as well as aliens, mad scientists, and dinosaurs.

Whether they're speaking French, German, Italian, or Dutch, the buddy-bonding is easy to spot.

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