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File:Princess of Mars.jpg

John Carter and Dejah Thoris from the cover of the first edition of A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, McClurg, 1917

John Carter is a fictional character, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who appears in the Martian series of novels. Though actually a Virginian from Earth and a visitor to Mars, he is often referred to as "John Carter of Mars" in reference to the general setting in which his deeds are recorded, in the time-honored tradition of other heroes (such as Lawrence of Arabia). The character is an enduring one and has appeared in various media following his 1912 serialized debut.


John Carter first appeared in A Princess of Mars, the first Burroughs novel set on the fictionalized version of Mars that the author dubbed "Barsoom". Written between July and September 28, 1911, it was serialized as Under the Moons of Mars in the February to July 1912 issues of the magazine All-Story and first published in book form in October 1917.

Carter reappeared in subsequent volumes of the series, most prominently in the second, The Gods of Mars (1918), the third, The Warlord of Mars (1919), the eighth, Swords of Mars (1936), the tenth, Llana of Gathol (1948), and the eleventh, John Carter of Mars (1964). John Carter is also a major secondary character in the fourth volume, Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920), and the ninth, Synthetic Men of Mars (1940).


Carter stands 6′2″ tall and has close-cropped black hair and steel-gray eyes. Burroughs portrays him as an immortal being. In the opening pages of A Princess of Mars, the author reveals to the reader that Carter can remember no childhood, having always been a man of about thirty years old. Many generations of families referred to him as "Uncle Jack," but he always lived to see all the members of the families grow old and die, while he remained young.

His character and courtesy exemplify the ideals of the antebellum South. A Virginian, he served as a captain in the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. He strikes it rich by finding gold in Arizona after the end of hostilities. While hiding from Apaches in a cave, he seemingly dies, and leaving his inanimate body behind is mysteriously transported by a form of astral projection to the planet Mars, where he finds himself re-embodied in a form identical to his earthly one. Accustomed to the greater gravity of Earth, he is much stronger than the natives of Mars.

Character biography[]

File:Martian Family of John Carter from Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom Novels.jpg

John Carter's descendents

On Mars, which its natives call Barsoom, Carter encounters both formidable alien creatures resembling the beasts of ancient myth and various humanoids and finds his true calling in life as a warrior-savior of the planet's inhabitants. He wins the hand of Martian princess Dejah Thoris of Helium, but ultimately sacrifices himself to save Barsoom. Awakening again after this second death he finds he has been miraculously transported back to Earth, and his original body. Carter then earns great wealth as a result of a find of a rich vein of gold ore. Unable to return to Mars, he spends his last years in a small cottage on the Hudson River in New York, where he once more dies on March 4, 1866.

Again, Carter's apparent demise is not a true death; rather, he is restored to Barsoom, where after more adventures he rises to the position of Warlord of Mars. He afterwards returns to Earth on a number of occasions to relate his adventures to his nephew (Burroughs), revealing that he has mastered the process of astral travel between the two worlds. During his adventures on Mars his earthly body reposes in a special tomb that can only be opened from the inside.

John Carter and Dejah Thoris become the parents of a son, Carthoris, and daughter, Tara. Carthoris plays a secondary role in The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, and is the protagonist of Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Tara is the heroine of The Chessmen of Mars (1922), and the mother of Carter's granddaughter Llana, heroine of Llana of Gathol.

In other media[]

File:Big Little Book -nn John Carter of Mars (Dell, 1940).jpg

Big Little Book, Dell, 1940


John Carter has appeared multiple times in other comics. He's appeared in various Big Little Books of the 1930s and 1940s, and a number of short-lived comic strips and comic books. Dell Comics released three issues of John Carter of Mars under its Four Color Comics banner. The issue numbers are 375, 437, and 488 and were released in 1952-1953. He has appeared in various comic book adaptations of the Martian stories, notably the "John Carter of Mars" feature that ran in DC Comics' Tarzan and Weird Worlds comics from 1972–1973, and Marvel Comics' John Carter, Warlord of Mars from 1977-1979. He also appeared, together with Tarzan, in a 1994-1995 storyline in the Tarzan Sunday comic strip,[1] and in Tarzan/John Carter: Warlords of Mars, a 1996 four-issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics.[2][3]

Other novels and television programs[]

Carter is also found in other novels and stories. He makes two appearances in Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The first is in the story Allan and the Sundered Veil that appears in the end of volume one. In it, Moore claims that H. P. Lovecraft's Randolph Carter is a descendant of John Carter. He also appears in the beginning of volume two, helping the Barsoomians fight the Martians from The War of the Worlds. The same scenario also appeared in the Burroughs entry in the War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches anthology. Also, one of the protagonists of Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast is a Captain Zebediah John Carter. The fact is commented on, since all of the protagonists are fans of science fiction from this period. And, in another novel by Charles Stross called Saturn's Children, Barsoom and Carter City are names of settlements on Mars.

He has also been referenced in shows. In Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i, the protagonist, James Links, is always referred to as "John Carter" by the WIRED officer, Baan Dorfloun. James Links is an Earth-born human who fell in love and had children with a Mars-born woman. In Episode 15 of the anime series To Love-Ru, a prince named Carter, from the planet Burroughs, arrives on Earth to conduct a hunt in a hidden alien game preserve in Guyana.


Bob Clampett the animator wanted to produce a full length cartoon of John Carter in the 1930's and talked with Burroughs about it. See the link below for the full story.

John Carter was played by Antonio Sabato Jr. in the 2009 movie Princess of Mars, which also starred Traci Lords as Princess Dejah Thoris.

In the upcoming film John Carter of Mars, he will be played by Taylor Kitsch,[4], with the role of Dejah Thoris to be played by Lynn Collins.


External links[]

es:John Carter fr:John Carter of Mars (personnage) ga:John Carter (Mars) pt:John Carter