Feb 6, 2018

The Decline and Fall of Kaanga, Jungle King

Jungle Comics began in 1940, an imprint of the pulp Fiction House, with cover art featuring Ka'anga (or Kaänga), a Tarzan ripoff created by Alex Blum and drawn by John Celardo (who would go on to draw Tarzan for real in newspaper comics).

By the way, kaanga means "do not kiss" in Swahili and "session" in Hausa.  I'm sure Alex Blum didn't know that.

Ka'anga was a complete Tarzan ripoff: abandoned in the jungle, raised by apes, with superheroic strength acquired by swinging on vines.  He was King of the Jungle, not Lord of the Jungle, and blond.  Otherwise he was Tarzan.   He even acquires a Jane in the first issue, an American girl named Ann.

Meanwhile he battles the Warrior-Apes of Voodoo Veldt, the Wizard Apes of Innkosi-Khan, The Devil-Apes, the Devil-Dwarfs, The Cult of the Killer Claws, the Claws of the Roaring Congo,  the Beast Men of Mombasa, the Jungle Octopus, and various trappers, furriers, cannibals, and lost civilizations. 

Ka'anga occupied most covers by himself for about 10 issues, but then he began rescuing damsels in distress on every cover.

The damsel got bigger and bigger, and Ka'anga got smaller and smaller, until after the war ended, she often took over the entire cover. 

Jungle Comics lasted for 164 issues, until the 1950s, but most fanboys don't know about or care about its origin in beefcake.

In 1949,  Ka'anga got his own title, which lasted for 20 issues.  Damsels in distress on every cover.

1 comment:

  1. One thing bugs me: Why an umlaut? Is it just kül?

    Yeah, even though the Tarzan archetype goes back to Sumeria, and Enkidu lost his powers when he got laid, pulp comics couldn't resist giving their jungle boys damsels.


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