Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, January 27, 2023


 The Jungle Drums of Death

When is an Edgar Rice /burroughs character not an Edgar Rice Burroughs character?  When she is Nyoka the Jungle Girl. 

Nyoka first apeared as the title character in the 1941 movie serial Jungle Girl, where her name was given as Nyoka Meredith and was played by Frances Gifford.  The film was supposed based on the 1931 Burroughs short story "The Land of Hidden Men," which was expanded into the novel Jungle Girl the following year.  Burroughs was one of seven writers credited in the serial, but other than the fact that there was a jungle and there was a girl, the film had little to do with the novel.  There was no Nyoka in the book, nor was there any sort of Nyoka-like character.  Burroughs had set his story in Cambodia and his Jungle Girl was an Asian princess called Fou-Tan, who happened to live in a jungle area.  Nyoka, on theother hand is a Caucasian woman who lives in Africa.  When the time came for afilm sequel -- the 1942 serial Perils of Nyoka, featuring Kay Aldridge (whose photo would grace some of the covers of the Nyoka the Jungle Girl comic books) -- Burroughs name was dropped from the credits completely, and Nyoka's last named was changed to Gordon

The film Nyoka was used as the basis of the Fawcett comic books, beginning with the Winter 1942 issue and ending with the June 1953 issue.  After Fawcett ceased publication, Charlton Comics purchased the character and published nine issues, from #14* (November 1955) to #22 (November 1957).  After Charlton Comics ceased publication, the right to Nyoka were purhased by AC Comics which came out with five issues of The Further Adventures of Nyoka the Jungle Girl between 1988 and 1989.  Sinc ethe Nyoka has appeared as c aharacter in other AC titles.  Most of the AC issues consisted of reprints and movie stills. 

I could not find the first issue of Nyoka the Jungle Girl online, so let's start with issue #2, which features a four-part story, "The Voodoo Drums of Death."  Rich, spoiled playboy Zoot Swoot -- a real "jitterbug" --has dreams of starting his own swing band and he needs a gimmick for it -- a "genuine native African voodoo drummer" -- and he wants Nyoka to be his jungel guide.  Without Zoot's knowledge, his father has made a deal with Nyoka for her to accept the job.  Meanwhile King High (a baddy if there ever was one) has taken a heafty life insurance insurance policy on Zoot to cover a $100,000 gambling debt.

Nyoka is soon facing death from an explosion, a shipwreck, shark-infested waters, vicous savag cannibals, and a pair of killers sent by King High.  Can Nyoka save Zoot, her boyfriend Larry, and herself so that she can continue on for more than eighty issues?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The lot isn't much and the characterizations are weak at best, but at least you have a jungle, and a girl.

 Give this one a try.

* Fawcett  published 76 issues of Nyoka; I assume the Charlton comic book took over the numbering of another Charlton comic book.

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