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This journal entry is like an introduction course to the Golden Age of Jungle Girls. Posted below will be my re-imagined images of the fair denizens of the wild drawn in Phil Bourassa's Young Justice art style and poses with a brief history of each girl. You will be able to see each girl bigger on their own page, but I felt it might be nice to collect all the information (and links) to one place. So without further ado, here is the March of the Jungle Girls!

Rima the Jungle Girl
Rima the Jungle Girl by Glee-chan

The very first jungle girl was Rima, however she's not your typical forest queen. A character in the W.H. Hudson's romance novel Green Mansions: A Romance in the Tropical Forest, she pre-dates all the others by almost 30 years. Because of that, Rima does not have most of the tropes associated with jungle girls. Hudson based his story off of (what he claims was) a South American legend about a tribe of mystical white men who became lost through the ages. Rima is the last surviving member of that race, a pure girl who's more like a wood nymph than an actual human. She's at one with nature/animals, and it's modern man who slowly corrupt her and frightened modern natives that ultimately destroy her. The novel is a tragic romance, and nothing like the vine swinging animal slaying of the typical jungle hero.

Believe it or not, Rima is probably is featured in more media than even Sheena. Not only was she in a best selling novel, but Rima also was in a huge Hollywood production of Green Mansions starring Audrey Hepburn. That's right, Audrey Hepburn played a Jungle Girl... no lie. If that wasn't enough, in the 70s, DC Comics revived her character and made a more action based comic book version of Green Mansions which lasted about a year. Because DC owned her the character, she was allowed to appear on The All-New Super Friends Hour. Now you have Rima fighting side-by-side with freaking Batman! Since then, Rima has appeared in other DC Comics, but unfortunately has been over shadowed by other more popular Jungle characters.

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle by Glee-chan

The most influential jungle girl is, without a doubt, Sheena. She was created by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger for Fiction House ( a comic company) in 1937. She first appeared in side-adventures in Jumbo Comics, but was so popular that eventually she got her own book Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. It should be noted that Sheena is the 1st female protagonist to get a solo comic book series, beating Wonder Woman by like five years.

While Sheena spawned a lot of knock-off jungle girls, she isn't exactly original herself. Basically Fiction House had major success with Kaanga, their version of Tarzan, so they wanted to have more jungle heroes. Enter Sheena. Her story is that she was the daughter of a white explorer in Africa, who got separated from her father while on Safari. He gets killed, and witch doctor named Koba took her in and raised her in the ways of the jungle. Thus Sheena's career of fighting warring natives, saving girls from slavers, rescuing animals from hunters, and fighting off white traders began. Eventually Sheena got herself a boyfriend (well two actually) who acted the Jane role in getting captured all the time.

Even if her roots weren't inspired, the character herself was. Having a female character deal with the same problems that Kaanga was doing in the other books put a new spin on things. Not only that, but bikini clad girls are kind of appealing. Soon the knock-off was being knocked-off by everyone (even from within Fiction House). A good number of them were just simple clones, but that would soon change.

Like Rima, Sheena escaped the bounds of her original source material and ventured into other media. She's been in B-Movies, several TV series, and of course multiple re-imaginings in comics. When people think of Jungle Girls, it's usually of Sheena.

Princess Pantha
Princess Pantha by Glee-chan

With Sheena killing it in comic book sales, other companies were looking for their own Jungle Queen. Many just slapped together another blonde in a leopard print bikini and called her "Leopard Girl" with no new deviation to the Tarzan/Sheena plot. That changed (for the better) in 1946 when Nedor Comics created Princess Pantha for Thrilling Comics. Art Saaf is her credited creator.

Pantha was a brunette circus performer who had learned to communicate with gorillas for her act. While on tour in Africa, Pantha gets stranded in the jungle. Using her skills as an acrobatic performer and a her ability to talk to gorillas to survive, Pantha's plots mainly revolved around her trying to find modern civilization. While the main arc was Pantha surviving, she also gets into typical jungle stories such as animal fights, rescuing of natives/animals, and so on. Eventually she's "rescued" herself by hunky Dane Hunter, but she decides to stay in her new home to be with her gorillas.

Pantha lasted for about 18 issues, but her departure from the formula inspired others to do the same. Not only was she unlike Sheena in appearance, but she used different approaches to problems and even used weapons. She also wasn't raised in the jungle. She got the ball rolling for more interesting characters to be formed, which I think was her biggest contribution. 

Judy of the Jungle
Judy of the Jungle by Glee-chan

If Princess Pantha was a step in the right direction for the evolution of jungle girl stories, Judy of the Jungle was a leap backwards. Created in 1947 by the same company as Pantha, Nedor Comics, Judy shared none of her big sister's creativity. Appearing as backup stories in Exciting Comics, Judy uninspiring tales were short. However her claim to fame would have nothing to do with her, but more about her cover artist.

Judy was a young woman who lived in Africa with her scientist father. He's killed, and Judy is forced into the jungle to hide from the killer. Eventually she decides to use her jungle knowledge to get revenge on the killer. If you think that's interesting, well you're right. However it's the ONLY interesting story Judy ever had. After that first issue, Judy soon got a boyfriend and played the Jane Porter role to him... and he wasn't even a Jungle man. So basically the hero of the story played second fiddle to some random dude.

So why on earth is Judy even being featured here? The answer that, I'll give you one reason: Frank Frazetta. If Judy's stories were so dull that they had to replace her with some generic choad, the cover art for those Exciting Comics featuring Judy was spectacular. Still early in his career, Frazetta made Judy's covers feel adventurous, colorful, and...well exciting. This is a case where people were buying the book for the cover, not for the trash inside. So for a time, Judy scraped by art work from Frank freaking Frazetta.

Rulah, Jungle Goddess
Rulah, Jungle Goddess (Bourassa Style) by Glee-chan

If Princess Pantha opened the door for more interesting jungle stories, Rulah kicked it open. She is considered the other great jungle girl after Sheena, though she never had the same mainstream success in other media. First appearing Zoot Comics, she was created by Matt Baker for Fox Feature Syndicate. She never was intended to be anything more than just a backup story for the other characters in the Fox pantheon, but Rulah proved to be so popular that they eventually dropped the others all together and changed the name of Zoot Comics to Rulah, Jungle Goddess.

Jane Dodge (later changed to Joan Grayson) was an adventure seeker and daughter of a rich family. Solo-flying over the African Jungle, Rulah's plane has troubles and crashes into the jungle. She manages to get out in time with a parachute, but not before completely shredding her clothes and losing any modern devises she had on her. Using her know-how in out-doors life, she fashions a bikini made out of a giraffe and starts her journey to survive in the wild.

Jane/Joan soon ends up in the middle of a tribal war. With her wits and skill, she resolves the conflict between the tribes. After some feats of amazing strength, Jane/Joan is declared Rulah, the Jungle Goddess. From that point on Rulah takes on the duties of a protector of the jungle. While she doesn't wish to be worshipped, her heroic deeds and her willingness to help those in need just make her even more praised.

Eventually Rulah's stories got more involved than just the jungle adventures. A lot of magic stories happen, from both an african and arabian perspective. There also are a number of evil outside invaders (from not only white-man's society, but middle eastern ones as well) who constantly are trying to take advantage of Rulah's charges. Gradually people on the outside world began to know who she was, and she more or less became an ambassador between native peoples and western ones. She later got herself a boyfriend who basically was background fodder and someone for her to rescue.

Her stories were more interesting than any of the others, and her art could range from decent to bad. But the appeal to Rulah was the character herself. She had a personally, which is saying something for 1940's writing. She was spunky, but was also witty, intelligent, and fearless. This is why Rulah is my personal favorite of all the jungle girls.

Tiger Girl
Tiger Girl by Glee-chan

Following the wave of good story telling, in 1950 Fiction House tipped their toe back into the jungle well to create another jungle girl. They were responsible for Sheena, and with characters like Pantha and Rulah proving these characters could be more nuanced, Allan O'Hara took a crack at it. Appearing in Fight Comics as a companion piece to Kaanga stories, Tiger Girl did find that success other jungle clones lacked, but she never reached Sheena levels.

Tiger Girl really is Princess Vishnu, an arabic princess who got bored with court life. (Arabic only in name, as she looks like a red-headed white girl) She took to the jungle, armed only with a tiger skinned bikini, her pet tiger, and a whip. That's pretty much her backstory. Her comics just put you into the action. Like Sheena before her, Tiger Girl was more about the adventures she was on over the actual character. However, her stories were more involved and pushed the trend of good storytelling over quicky one-offs.

There isn't anything that ground breaking about her, but Tiger Girl learned all the lessons of the previous jungle maidens and played them well. She was extremely popular for the time, and that's why I've devoted a spot for her on this March of Jungle Girls marathon I've been doing.

Cave Girl
Cave Girl (Comic) by Glee-chan

Here's where things get interesting in the Jungle Girl genre. Cave Girl actually is a spin-off from the Thun'da series from Magazine Enterprises. Created by (the) Garnder Fox and Bob Powell, Cave Girl started off as a guest character in the Dawn Lands, fighting along side Thun'da. Thun'da is a modern man who is transported to a prehistorical like land where Dinosaurs and nasty cave men exist. Within that same world Cave Girl was created.

Like Mowgli, Cave Girl was a young modern child who got lost in the Dawn Lands. She was raised by wolves and became a proper prehistoric jungle girl. From there ordinary adventures take place, only with a dinosaur twist. She fights cavemen who are all the time trying to steal beautiful women, she fights headhunters and amazons, battles dinosaurs and other prehistorical creatures, and does the occasional team up with Thun'da. It's really a mix of genres which makes reading her stories fascinating. She later breaks away from dinosaurs to have regular jungle adventures in our world, which her hunter boyfriend.

Lorna, the Jungle Girl
Lorna the Jungle Girl by Glee-chan

Lorna the Jungle Girl (also known as Jungle Queen) is Atlas Comics try at the jungle girl genre in 1953. For those of you not in the know, Atlas Comics was later become Marvel Comics. They would attempt the Jungle Girl genre again with Jann of the Jungle, but by the time they started Jungle Comics were going out of style. Lorna and Jann were created at the end of the life cycle for the genre and you can really tell. She was created by Don Rico and Werner Roth.

For Lorna herself, she's nothing really spectacular story wise. Her single father died when a lion attacked him. Chief M'tuba took her in and trained her to be be a jungle girl. Pretty standard. The thing that really sets Lorna apart from the others is that by the 50s, art in comics had gotten better. So Lorna's extremely bland storylines were very pretty to look at. Also, since this is early Marvel, had I ended the Golden Age with Cave Girl, people would through a fit. So here's Lorna in all her boring glory.

Jann of the Jungle
Jann of the Jungle by Glee-chan

Jann of the Jungle is Atlas Comics last attempt at the jungle girl genre in 1954. (Just a reminder, Atlas Comics would later become Marvel Comics.) After Lorna, the Jungle Girl had a poor reception, they decided on a re-do with Jann. Unfortunately, Jungle Comics were on death's door at this point and Marvel was just too late to the party. Don Rico took another shot at making an interesting Jungle girl, this time with Arthur Peddy. I believe he succeeded. Jann is much more interesting and less generic than Lorna, but the comics lasted only 17 issues and pretty much spelled the end of the Jungle Girl genre as a big power in the industry.

The story this time around was about a trapeze artist/animal trainer named Jane Hastings who got hired on to be a stunt woman for a Jungle movie in Africa. While filming, Jane (called Jann by the natives) has some real jungle adventures of her own. Eventually the movie wraps up, but Jann has found a sense of home in the jungle. She later finds out why. Her grandmother used to be a jungle girl herself. As a circus performer who got lost in the jungle, she had become a legend for her feats of bravery in saving natives from various trappers, slavers, and what not, as well became a friend to wildlife. She ultimately left the with a hunter man, but departed loved by the people.

Sound familiar? It should. Atlas/Marvel Comics is referencing Princess Pantha without actually saying the name. Once again, Pantha is influencing Jungle tales. The natives take to Jann because she reminds them of that other white woman who used to patrol the jungle. Jann, from this point on, takes a very Princess Pantha approuch in problem solving and tries to be a spiritual successor.

The stories and art are probably some of the better in the Jungle girl series, as the 50s had grown up.  However, even with a great story and some nostalgia thrown in, no one was reading.  People had their fill of Jungles and moved on to the West.  So even though Atlas/Marvel had finally cracked the formula, the comic and genre was dead.
  • Listening to: Ready to Roll - Jet Black Stare
  • Reading: The Greek Myths by Robin Waterfield
  • Watching: Ohranger (Super Sentai)
  • Playing: Tales of Berseria, SAO: Lost Song, Divinity
  • Eating: Wheat Thins w/ BBQ Pork
  • Drinking: Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper
Add a Comment:
 
:iconm-hadley:
M-Hadley Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2018  Professional Writer
Hey, wrote a Jungle Girl story with JUDY:
www.smashwords.com/books/view/…
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:icondarkwarrior:
darkwarrior Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2017
You sure do love Jungle Girls.
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:iconstarwarriorrobby:
StarWarriorRobby Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have a feeling that they'll be running into giant apes in their adventures. :D
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:iconleavhon:
Leavhon Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017
Awesome work, as usual. I really appreciate that you kept doing researches on each character you draw and kept sharing your knowledge with us all ^_^
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:iconregistraiter:
RegisTraiter Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017
Very nice drawings and write-up!
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:iconon2xsecretprobation:
On2XSecretProbation Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I would love to take a course taught by you about Jungle Girls. I sat here in rapt attention reading this post. I mean you passion for the subject really captured me. And now I need to know more!
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:iconglee-chan:
Glee-chan Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aw, thank you very much! That means a lot.  I put a lot into this, knowing that the subject matter is for a niche audience, but I enjoyed it never the less.  I'm glad someone else actually did as well.  BTW, most of these girls can be viewed on ComicBookPlus.com.  Aside from Rima comics and the Marvel ones, they're all public domain.   Green Mansion (Rima's book) is still public domain.  SO of you just have to have more jungle girls, you can go there. Just a warning.  These are comics from the 40s so expect art of varying degree and casual sexism/racism.  
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:iconon2xsecretprobation:
On2XSecretProbation Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I got the book. Casual sexism/racism? I've read some Robert Howard...I think I can handle it. Robert Howard is much too important to be shackled with political correctness...PC has its place but I don't think that literature is that place. I think there are far worse humanity in books than Robert Howard's perhaps outdated views on race (actually some of his writing can be quite a bit more progressive than many would give him credit for...maybe because like the haters of the Iron Fist show they don't actually know the source material.) The idea that Howard is worse than the fact that the cast of the Jersey Shore and the Kardashians have books either written about them or by them is ludicrous. It's damn near a crime that Fifty Shades of Grey and its progenitor still get more attention than work that actually deserves praise rather than being forgotten.

Sorry...I should probably get off my soap box now.
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:iconvesubio79dc:
vesubio79dc Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017
hi...excellent idea,If you allow me....I would add 2 "jungle girls"...Shanna "she-devil" and Tara.
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:iconpewternatural:
pewternatural Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Do you think we might ever see a jungle girl revival? People love rebooting older comics and movies, do you think it's a matter of time before jungle girls get their turn? Or do you think they might be to tied to ideas of colonization and white saviors for companies to take a chance on?
Reply
:iconon2xsecretprobation:
On2XSecretProbation Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Unfortunately, I doubt that a jungle girl revival would ever be in the cards. I think part of what make the genre so compelling was the setting. In this day and age if we think about the jungle at all it is in terms of the deforestation of it, or as a place we don't really want to end up. A lot of the mystique has been taken away from the jungle. We feel as though we know a lot of bout it. There are no new animals to find (remember the gorilla had only been discovered with proof around 1920. They were legends to the Western world up until that point.) There are no secret tribes to discover. And these days I'm guessing most scientists would laugh at the idea of a hidden plant in the jungle that can cure cancer when crushed up or something.

I think the world has passed by the kind of thinking that made Jungle Girls popular.

On top of that Hollywood wouldn't give them the respect they deserve. Look at how something like Red Sonja went. Most people don't even remember there was a Red Sonja movie. Also it was garbage. Look at The Phantom and The Shadow which had movies in the 90's. Do you want to see movies with any of these women that are like those?
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:iconpewternatural:
pewternatural Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
True, a jungle girl movie or book would have to a period piece or maybe a mixture of sci-fi set in a jungle planet were alien life could serve as new discoveries. There is always the possibility of going mystical with it. make it a jungle full of all the animals from myth. It would be a tough rope to walk between making it exciting and having it come off as too goofy. Even with that you probably couldn't make a jungle girl in the modern day, they would have to be an Indiana Jones clone.

The Red Sonja movie, that was bad, even having Arnold playing Conan couldn't save it. Hell even the new Tarzan movie wasn't good. They put all the effort into it and it was just boring. 
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:iconon2xsecretprobation:
On2XSecretProbation Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Actually I know someone who is a huge Tarzan fan who liked it well enough.

I suppose they could make it a time travel movie.

So many movies have tried to emulate the Indy formula and failed even similar kinds of movies before Indy failed to walk that line you spoke of, for instance almost any Allan Quartermain movie.
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:iconpewternatural:
pewternatural Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I thought the movie was well produced and they got some great actors, but even with all the action set pieces it never clicked with me. I think it might have moved too fast to let the tension build properly.

A time travel movie would work, the Cave Girl character that Glee drew falls into that category. I also think a dystopian story set in a world where nature is reclaiming what man built would work. It could be like Kamandi or that new video game Horizon Zero Dawn, that has a bit of a primitive flavor, by way of dystopia. That type of story could give mystique back to nature and allow for some interesting creatures.  
Reply
:iconon2xsecretprobation:
On2XSecretProbation Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I didn't see the Tarzan movie myself.

I unfortunately have fallen behind the times with video games. But yes I concur that those could both be scenarios that might work. I don't know that jungle based literature could ever achieve the popularity it once had in the 40's and 50's but if the poll taken by Glee as to whether  or not to draw the characters is any indication there is at the very least an audience for that kind of story even if it isn't in the main stream any more.
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:iconglee-chan:
Glee-chan Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Probably not anytime soon.  Hell, comic book super hero girls can't even keep their tights, let along anything that has skin shown.  Add that to the fact that 99% of them are white people saving natives, and the PC police would be all over the place.  Jungle Girls wouldn't stand a chance.
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:iconpewternatural:
pewternatural Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yea I thought the same look at the backlash against Iron Fist, because he's a white guy doing kung fu. I can understand the dislike of colonialism, hell im Puerto Rican, my whole culture is a byproduct of colonialism, but jungle girls are fun. It's like Django, it used a dark setting to tell an interesting action story. You could do that with Jungle Girls, don't treat the natives like fools and have respect for colonialism and you could make a good story. Hell you could even had some feminism in that Jungle Girls tend to come from repressive societies and are finding themselves outside of the constraints of their societies. The problem of course is that it would be a complex story and people don't do complex.  
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:iconglee-chan:
Glee-chan Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No lie, I just trudged through 5 episodes of Iron Fist.  Ugh.  Racism is the least of it's problems, it's bad script writing.  It's pretty terrible. 
Reply
:iconpewternatural:
pewternatural Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Haven't seen it yet, that's sad to hear the other defenders titles have been so good. Guess they finally struck out. If you haven't seen Jessica Jones, I would drop Iron Fist and watch that one, it's the best of the Marvel Netflix series. 
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