"The Moon Men" was originally published as a four-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly, from February 21 to March 14, 1925. It's really the center of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Moon trilogy, not because it's the second of three stories but because it was written first. "The Moon Maid" is a prequel to it and "The Red Hawk" is there to bring Burroughs' saga to a happy ending.
"The Moon Men" was originally entitled "Under the Red Flag." It told the story of America under the rule of Bolsheviks, not under the Kalkars, the Moon Men of the published version. Either way, the story is dystopian, perhaps an overlooked work in the history of Dystopia. I wish that the original manuscript or typescript could be found and published. It's nice to think that it still exists.
"The Moon Men" is dystopian and therefore political, but that doesn't mean it's all talk. In fact there's a lot of action. (I read it and took notes on possible illustrations.) But for some reason, cover illustrators over the years have come up short when it comes to "The Moon Men." Ace Books published a paperback edition called The Moon Men, but the illustration on the cover is from "The Red Hawk." (See below.) The original cover illustration from Argosy All-Story Weekly is static and doesn't indicate much at all about the story:
"The Moon Men" was reprinted in the hardcover book The Moon Maid in 1926. From November 1928 to February 1929, Modern Mechanics and Inventions reprinted the contents of The Moon Maid as a four-part serial called "Conquest of the Moon." The first installment made the cover:
"The Red Hawk" was originally published in Argosy All-Story Weekly as a three-part serial, from September 5 to September 19, 1925:
"The Red Hawk" was combined with "The Moon Men" in paperback and entitled The Moon Men. Here is the Ace edition from 1963:
The cover artist was Ed Emshwiller, also known as Emsh (1925-1990). His illustration is from the climactic battle in "The Red Hawk." Later artists followed his lead: although the book was called The Moon Men, the cover illustrations are from "The Red Hawk."
Once again, Burroughs got the Frazetta treatment--and what an extraordinary image this is. I wrote the other day that Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) seems to have read "The Moon Maid" before making his cover illustration. But maybe not. Frazetta was notorious for procrastination and for working late into the night and into the morning on the day of his deadline. Maybe his cover for The Moon Maid is actually just a reworking of the elements of Roy Krenkel's cover from 1962. Call it a Frazetta-fied version of somebody else's picture. That is almost certainly the case here. One way of knowing is that the last Moon Man with whom the Red Hawk does battle is not described in the book in the way that Emsh and Frazetta depicted him on their covers. It seems like Frazetta just took the elements of Emsh's picture--a man dressed in Indian garb, a blue-skinned giant, and a woman shrinking from battle--and made them his own. I can't complain. How could you? But we should know the facts, I guess, one of which is that the woman, Bethelda, actually helps the Red Hawk in his battle with the Moon Man by holding a lamp behind her lover's head in an attempt to blind the onrushing Kalkar. She isn't helpless.
British and Dutch publishers of the 1970s followed suit:
I'll have more on Burroughs before long, but this entry brings the current series on his Moon trilogy to a close. As always, thanks for reading.
Text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley