The Backstory Before Voodah
Comic Book “Kings of the Jungle”
Western literature is saturated with many versions of the archetypal orphan who grows up to become the king of his world. One of those archetypes is the man or boy in the 1920s Rudyard Kipling created Mowgli, the original jungle boy and star of the stories of the Jungle Book. Almost a decade earlier Edgar Rice Burroughs had published Tarzan. As comic books reached their first height in popularity in the era known as the Golden Age, there would be many versions of the King or Queen of the Jungle. The obvious racially biased undertones of these tales always seem to be brushed aside for the glamour of the adventure. Comic book fans, literary scholars and avid readers cannot justify these undertones yet they should be studied as leftovers from a different time.
The “Golden Age” of Comics
The years during the 1930s through the 1950s gave the avid comic book reader many jungle orphans turned heroes. After Tarzan there were Ka-Zar, Sheena, Jane, Shana and even the comedic George. No list is complete without Tabu, Princess Pantha, Camilla and the rather strangely named Jo Jo. There was also the undead Fantomah. In many ways they all seem to be a cross between Sampson and Superman or Hercules and Wonder Woman. One thing they all have in common is that they are usually white.
Yet deep in the catacombs of comic book history there is a much more obscure jungle king that now belongs in the public domain. He is tall, broad shouldered and of African descent. Created by the talented Matt Baker, this unusual for the time hero’s name is Voodah. He is not to be mixed up with other characters having similar names such as Vooda and Dr. Voodoo. Dr. Vodoo was raised in Brazil among ‘white Indians’ and faces many adventures similar to that of Prince Valiant. Vooda on the other hand is another character created by Matt Baker. Vooda sometimes goes by the alias El’nee. El’nee’s adventures center around her life on an isle in the East Pacific known only as the Vanishing Island.