X-Men fans will not exactly be surprised to hear Cockrum was a big John Carter of Mars fan. After all, he gave Professor X a girlfriend who was an alien princess, and Professor X’s yacht was named the “Dejah Thoris.”
If you’re a fan of John Carter of Mars, you should read L. Sprague de Camp’s very humorous take on the world, Sir Harold of Zodanga. It shows what a “scientifically accurate” Barsoom would really be like (also, read his Planet Krishna books, which are humorous spoofs of Barsoom too – de Camp had a wonderful sense of humor).
It may actually have my favorite characterization of John Carter of Mars, who was always just an alpha male man of action hero. In L. Sprague de Camp’s take, John Carter is actually despised, not admired, by the conservative Barsoomian elite and upper classes (with the obvious exception of Dejah Thoris) because of his Yankee notions of equality and egalitarianism, and what’s more, yes, even though John Carter is good at swordfighting, his greatest skill is actually his aptitude as a diplomat and politician, able to make allies out of enemies who had been feuding for generations.
Okay, sure, he makes John Carter a blowhard who loves to brag about his swordfighting skills (ever notice that the stories where John Carter fights a hundred men in an arena or something tend to be his first person accounts of what happened? Imagine someone told that to you at a bar, would you believe them?) but overall, he was portrayed as a reform minded egalitarian who was a tremendously skilled at diplomacy and peacemaking.
For years, I’ve been trying to find a picture of Carl Sagan’s office at Cornell University, where, according to visitors, one wall was dominated by a map of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom, home of John Carter of Mars.
I haven’t been able to find it, but I have a pretty shrewd guess as to what map it was: I think it was this one above, made in the early 1970s as a mass market copy, which fits the timeline (Sagan taught at Cornell from 1968-1976).
Fun fact: maybe inspired by the Sagan story, but in one of the comic adventures of the 6th Doctor (the one who had a penguin sidekick), he has a map of Barsoom in the TARDIS.