In the aftermath of the release of the new trailer of John Carter, set for release on March 9th, it’s been interesting to watch all the flame-throwiing on YouTube and elsewhere by those who say “It’s a ripoff of Avatar”, and those who say “Dude, Avatar was based on this.” The truth is, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote “John Carter” (under the title “A Princess of Mars” 100 years ago and it was this which inspired Cameron to write Avatar — Cameron admits it. Anyone who calls “John Carter derivative needs to get the facts straight. This is the source material.. Enjoy it.”
I’m re-posting something I wrote in the early days after Avatar was released which I hope sheds some light on this. Indeed, John Carter was the inspiration for Avatar — Cameron acknowledges it.
Here is what I wrote
One of the great pleasures of my adolescence was reading, and re-reading, all of the great adventure stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs–Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, all of them. I first started reading them as an 11 year old Army Brat living in Stuttgart, Germany — where I would order them four or five books at a time from ACE and Ballantine Books, both of whom were putting out the Burroughs novels in those days. In recent years I was lucky enough to get to know Danton Burroughs, the grandson of Edgar Rice and the keeper of the kingdom of Edgar Rice Burroughs treasures at the family homestead in Tarzana, the town in Southern California that has risen on the site of Burroughs ranch, which he called Tarzana. Bill and Sue-on Hillman maintain a fantastic group of fan and tribute websites, and Bill noticed a few weeks ago that I had written about the Avatar-Burroughs connection. We emailed back and forth about it — and the result is an article I’ve written for ERBzine on the Avatar-Burroughs connection. You can click here to read it — and even if you don’t read it, check out the wonderful illustrations that Bill has added to the article–illustrations which probably say more about the Avatar-Burroughs connection than anything I can write. Read it here: Heady Times For Edgar Rice Burroughs Fans: Avatar, Burroughs, and John Carter of Mars.