Friday, February 7, 2014

Welcome to the Jungle!

With Judy of the Jungle: The Lords of Memnon, NUELOW Games launches a new 3-volume series while digging into the once-popular jungle adventure genre.

The cover for NUELOW's first Judy of the Jungle book.
During the Golden Age of Comics, jungle adventure series were all the rage. Jungle heroes tended to either wear hunting togs and pith helmets, or little more than loin cloths, and as early as 1937, Will Eisner and Jerry Iger hit on the notion that a female jungle hero couldn't help but be popular with the core comic book audience. So, into existence came Sheena, Queen of the Jungle... and shortly after that, the first example of "fan service" was likewise published.

Sheena spawned many imitators, but none ever matched her popularity, nor have any had her staying power. Hundreds of Sheena comic book stories have been printed--with brand-new ones appearing within recent years--and she has been the subject of two feature films and two separate television series.

 Judy of the Jungle debuted in 1947, ten years after Sheena. She first appeared in Exciting Comics #55 where she became popular enough to knock long-time title star Black Terror from the cover within two issues of her debut. She enjoyed a 15-issue run, before fading into history.

 Judy may not have been the most groundbreaking of characters, but she was visually distinct from all the other Sheena wanna-bes--where they all wore some variation of an animal skin bikini, Judy's attire was a tattered cocktail dress. She may also have the most unique set of "daddy issues" in all of comicdom. Even better, her adventures never wanted for action. And her series is titled Judy of the Jungle.

This was a comic that was begging for a NUELOW Games edition.

 Judy of the Jungle: The Lords of Memnon features the first four Judy adventures, and the debut adventure of the first black jungle hero--Voodah.

Voodah is actually a more historically significant character than Judy. As already mentioned, he was the first black jungle hero... and he happens to be the creation of one of the few African Americans who worked as a full-time artist on American comics during the 1940s. However, I suspect that Voodah being black was more of an accident or perhaps spontaneous editorial rebellion, because when one compares Voodah's face to the way Baker drew other black characters, the features are very different. He seems to have been drawn as a white person, but then colored as black. My theory is further strengthened by the fact that Voodah was only black for this first three appearances (Crown Comics #3 - #5) after which he turned into a visual Tarzan clone, appearance-wise. There's also the curious detail that even when he appeared as a black man in the interior of the magazine, he never was when he appeared on the cover. Either the editorial mistake was caught by the fourth story, or the act of rebellion was squashed by higher-ups at publisher McCombs.

Voodah: White on the outside, black on the inside.
We may never know the real story at this late date, but it gives us a reason to still care about an otherwise uninteresting Tarzan knock-off that hasn't weathered the passage of time very well. With the exception of the one story illustrated by creator Baker--the one included in Judy of the Jungle: The Lords of Memnon--.and a second where he fights a dinosaur, the art on the series is as clunky and uninteresting to the modern eye as are the stories.

In addition to 38 pages of great comics, the book includes an all new talent tree and starting occupation designed to bring jungle action to your d20 OGL Modern games..

Check out previews of Judy of the Jungle: The Lords of Memnon, or perhaps even get your own copy, by clicking here. As always, if you get the book, let us know what you thought of it. We can't improve if we don't know what's right or wrong about our products!

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