The volume of Sheena short stories, compared to her appearances in comics, television and film, is extremely slim.  Anyone wanting to read Sheena comics can easily satisfy their desire.  Fiction House published 167 issues of Jumbo Comics between September 1938 and March 1953.  Every one featured a Sheena story and nearly every one of them displayed Sheena prominently on the cover.  Fiction house also gave the blonde jungle queen her own title and 18 issues of Sheena were published from 1942 to 1953 (read the full story on the Fiction House Comics page).  Representations of Sheena in live action film are also reasonably common.  Irish McCalla played Sheena in 26 episodes of Sheena Queen of the Jungle, a television series that screened for about a decade commencing in 1957.  Sheena returned to television in October 2000 and 35 episodes of Sheena, starring Gina Lee Nolin, were screened over two seasons, concluding in February 2002.  Contrary to popular belief, there have also been two Sheena feature films.  It is widely believed that Tanya Roberts has the distinction of appearing in the only feature film to portray the female jungle heroine - Sheena (1984).  However, the Nassour Brothers, producers of the Irish McCalla TV series, edited together three episodes of that series into a feature called Queen of the Jungle, which received minimal cinema release in the US and Europe in the late Fifties (for more details see the Sheena Queen of the Jungle page).  When we come to tallying up the total number of Sheena short stories, however, we only have four to choose from.  Three of them appeared in a volume called Stories of Sheena Queen of the Jungle, published by Real Adventures Publishing in 1951 (see image below).  Her last appearance in the pulps was Sword of Gimshai, which appeared in the Spring 1954 issue of Jungle Stories (see image below).  The image depicted at left is the cover of the Athenian Readers Club reprint of that story (date unknown) (Carr).
  This fascinating and rare collectors item was originally published in the spring of 1951 by Real Adventures Publishing Co., one of the Fiction House pulp imprints.  Thurman Scott obviously thought that there might be some benefit in presenting Sheena in a different format during the later years of Fiction House when the company was facing tough times (see The Decline of Fiction House page).  The evidence suggests that there was insufficient interest amongst the buying public to justify a continuation of the venture because only one issue was ever published.  This precious volume contains three full Sheena adventures - The Slave-Brand of Sleman Bin Ali, Killer's Kraal and Sargasso of Lost Safaris - all supposedly written by James Anson Buck.  This name, like the names of many pulp writers, is probably a pseudonym.  There are no references to any other works by this author on The Internet.

 In his brief essay on Sheena in the pulp magazines, The Indispensable Jungle Queen, Nick Carr tells us that according to one of the stories in this volume, Sheena was born in the village of the Abamas, somewhere in the Congo and she was the orphaned daughter of a white explorer.  After her parents had died she was adopted by a female Abama shaman named N'bid Ela, who committed herself to teaching the young girl her craft so that when she died Sheena would be the Matsyenda, or Wise-Woman, of the Abamas, and the tribe would obey her.  N'bid Ela told Sheena that she was of the "Tribe of God", which she interpreted to mean that her parents were missionaries.  The old woman told Sheena that it was important that she live apart from the the other Abama villagers because, "Your skin is white, little one.  You too are of the Tribe of God and it is not good for you to play with the black children."  N'bid Ela organised for a hut to be built for herself and Sheena deep in the forest and the young girl was raised by the old shaman as if she was some kind of high priestess in training.  N'bid Ela tutored Sheena in the secrets of her own "dark wisdom".
  At last Sheena was brought into the village for the Day of Testing, which was the occasion when all of the young men of the Abama clan came together to prove themselves fit for war and wedlock.  Sheena's abilities in all of the tests surpassed those of all of the young men.  Her archery skills and her mastery of the spear exceeded those of her rivals, and on foot she was much swifter and more agile than her male peers.  Eventually her reputation spread far beyond the villages of the Abamas.  She spoke fluent Swahili, she could understand the jungle drums and she became a familiar sight to many tribes in the region.  She also developed a rapport with many wild creatures over a vast area.  Her dwelling place was a hut on stilts five feet (152 cm) above the ground deep in the heart of the Congo, which she shared with a chimpanzee named Chim, her constant companion.  Her other jungle friends were a powerful, black-maned lion named Sabor and a great elephant named Tamba.  This is Nick Carr's paraphrased description of her:
           The jungle people called her "Tioto Nomi", or "The Forest Woman".  Sheena was a golden-haired goddess of the jungle, a bronzed beauty who possessed a superb figure.  Tall and slim with blue eyes, "her leopard skin clung to her torso, showing every graceful curve."  She also wore earrings and a light bracelet of pure gold.  She usually carried a bow of nahete wood, a quiver of arrows, and an ivory-hilted Arab poniard.  Such were her weapons, plus quick reflexes and vast jungle wisdom.
In all three stories Sheena is involved with a man named Richard "Rick" Thorne.  He is tall, has black hair, grey eyes, a deep resonant voice and is handy with a gun.  He grew up in Montana and when he is first introduced he is at an isolated training post on the Portugese side of the Kuango River.  There is a degree of sexual tension between Sheena and Rick, as indicated by the following exchange when they first meet:
           "When I first saw you I thought I was dreaming." Rick confided.
"Are women with white skin so strange to you?"  She held his gaze as the snake holds the bird's which it will soon devour.  She knew she had power over this man, yet there was a recklessness, a wildness abut him that she could not help but see.  Here was a spirit as strong and free as her own.
Inevitably, Sheena must rescue Rick from the many threats and dangers of the jungle.  In one sequence he is lashed to a large-trunked bamboo tree with strips of rawhide as a feast for a pack of wild hyenas:
           A slim tawny figure came down from the treetops abruptly. Sheena!  Her limbs glistened with the jungle rain and even as she struck the ground she began to slash about with her Arab poniard. The hyenas screamed and, and tried to scuttle away. Sheena picked up the largest of them bodily and threw him at the others.  Seconds later the carrion-eaters had disappeared completely.
  It is interesting to examine some of the the elements described above.  Chim, Sheena's companion, was obviously carried over from the Fiction House Jumbo Comics, but the names of Sheena's other animal friends - Sabor and Tamba - are very curious.  In the Tarzan novels Edgar Rice Burroughs invented a fictitious language of the apes that his jungle hero used to communicate with his family and other apes.  In that language Sabor meant female lion and Simba was the male equivalent.  Here it is used for a black-maned male lion.  Readers familiar with Tarzan novels would have recognised it immediately.  As for Sheena's elephant friend Tamba, it is obvious that the name was appropriated from the Jungle Jim films that Johnny Weissmuller began making in 1948, a few years before this story was written, after he quit the Tarzan films.  Tamba was the name of Jungle Jim Bradley's comical chimpanzee companion in those films.  It is also interesting that the author of the Sheena pulp stories decided to change the name of the male in Sheena's life to Rick.  Sheena's sidekick in the Jumbo Comics was a white hunter named Bob Reynolds, who in some stories was referred to as Sheena's "mate".  In the Irish McCalla series he was known as Bob Rayburn and in the Jungle Stories pulp he was Bob Reilly (see below).  Whatever his name, in all of these genres threats to Sheena's male companion became the vehicle that triggered Sheena into action.  In the pulps, however, the sexuality became much more overt.  The pulps were targeted at the adult male market and the pulp authors were given free license, within reason, to stimulate the imaginations of that segment of the populace.
  JUNGLE STORIES - Spring 1954
  Several years later another Sheena pulp story appeared in a long-running pulp named Jungle Stories.  Jungle Stories was a Fiction House pulp publication that began in Winter 1938 and eventually gave rise to one of the more famous Fiction House comic titles - Jungle Comics.  Meanwhile, Sheena was appearing as a regular feature in the most famous Fiction House comic, Jumbo Comics, which commenced publication in September 1938 (see the Fiction House pages).  The featured hero in this pulp title was a Tarzan clone named Ki-gor, who became Ka'a'nga in Jungle Comics.  The very last issue of Jungle Stories, published in Spring 1954, featured a Sheena pulp story called Sword of Gimshai, attributed to Joseph W. Musgrove.  This story, faithful to its pulp domain, cranks up the titilation factor a few extra notches.

Many elements established by the tales in Stories of Sheena Queen of the Jungle are maintained in this work.  Sheena makes reference to her parents being from the Tribe of God and being raised by an old Abama witchwoman, and Chim the monkey, Sabor the male lion and Tamba the elephant are all on hand to obediently follow the commands of their mistress.  However, all of Sheena's previous experience with the opposite sex have been completely forgotten.  When she meets Bob Reilly she tells him that she has never been around any men of her own kind and it had not occurred to her that he might, or might not, like her.  Bob Reilly was another good looking guy.  He was tall, broad-shouldered with "the diving, high-stepping gait of a football fullback."  He had black, unruly, tangled hair, a square-jawed face which gave him a deceptive look of maturity for his 23 years, and he was the son of a very wealthy American.  Not surprisingly, the sexual tension between them soon develops: 
           "You mean," Sheena picked her words slowly. "That you find it good to look upon me?"
"Anyone would say that you are unusually beautiful." He said with enforced calm
At one stage in the story Bob and Sheena have a moonlight swim while waiting for their food to cook.  Sheena was already swimming when Bob awoke from a long sleep after their adventures of the day.  Sheena invites him into the water and is very impressed by his swimming abilities.  They discuss some of the events of the day and Sheena suddenly remembers the food on the fire:
           Before he could move , she had thrust her feet against the river floor and stood up.  He realised for the first time that she swam unclad and her suddenly revealed beauty made his breath catch in his throat.  Her bare body was a picture of Aphrodite rising from the sea.
Sheena waded to the bank.  With a child's innocence, she stood there smoothing the glistening drops of water from her body with her hands.  After leisurely donning her halter and shorts, she walked across to the fire, inspected the joint of meat cooking over the crossbars.
When Sheena called him to eat, Bob dressed hurriedly in the shadow of a tree and joined her near the fire.
The following day Bob finds himself at close quarters with Sheena following an argument about whether he should continue on alone with his plans, and we are treated to the following scene in glorious pulp fiction language:
           She was very close to him.  The changeful blue depths of her eyes softened, losing the storminess of a moment before.  The warm girl scent of her came up to Bob.
He watched the curve of her full, red lips.  Her teeth were small and fine and white.  He had never known any woman who stirred him as much as she did.
           Suddenly the tight control he had exerted over himself snapped.  Before he knew what he did, he reached his arms about her and pressed his mouth to hers.
The startled girls eyes flew wide.  She stiffened as though either to fight or run.  But she let him draw her into his embrace, made no attempt to take her mouth from his.
Abruptly he released her, but he could not move away because she held him with the rigidness of her arms about his neck.
"I'm sorry Sheena.  I shouldn't have done that.  II didn't mean to do it."  He was embarrassed and angry with himself.
Sheena slid her arms about his neck and stepped back.  The strange startled expression was still on her face.  Her right hand came up to touch her mouth.
"Why did-what did you do?" she faltered.
Bob frowned, momentarily puzzled.  Then he was more embarrassed than ever.  Sheena had no idea what a kiss was.
"I kissed you." He said.  And then he didn't know what to say next.
"But why?" she demanded.
"Uh-well, I just couldn't help myself.  His face reddened. "Among our people, when a man..."  That didn't sound right.  "It's a custom.  It-it means-no, that's not what I want to say."  He bumbled on in a growing confusion of unfinished sentences.
"You mean," Sheena asked "that among people with white skin it is like when a native man rubs noses with a girl?"
"Yes." He granted comfortably.  He considered how swiftly feminine instinct had taken her to the heart of the matter.
"I have seen them," she said thoughtfully.  She touched her lips with her fingers.  "This is a strange thing this 'kiss', very strange."  Then slowly she smiled and nodded her head.  "But it is far better than the natives custom.  First, there was the firestick which kills at a distance, then the superior way of swimming, and now this matter."
"Then you aren't angry with me?" ventured Bob.
She contemplated him gravely.  "No," she said softly.  "I should like you to do it again, now when I wouldn't be so surprised."
Bob swallowed heavily.  "Not now.,' he declared.  His breath came very fast.  "No, not now."  He might have proved himself a sorry kind of man by making a mess of his expedition, he told himself, but he'd be damned if he was sorry enough to take advantage of Sheena's innocence.  She had saved his life.  The least he could do was to behave himself."
  Nick Carr makes an interesting comparison of the passage above with a description of a similar incident in The Slave-Brand of Sleman Bin Ali, from the earlier publication.  A difference in the approach of the two authors demonstrated that Sheena's receptiveness to the advances of the opposite sex had changed dramatically in the intervening years:
           She saw the startled look come into his eyes, and then his arms were about her, his kiss hot on her lips.  In sudden alarm she stiffened in his arms and tried to push him off.  But he only tightened his grip about her waist, and his arms were strong, crushing her to him.
 She felt the will to resist slipping from her; and half in anger, half in terror, she snatched the knife from her belt and drove the point in the fleshy part of his forearm.
With a startled cry he released her.  She jumped back and stood glaring at him.
"You-you witch!" he exclaimed.  "You asked for that, and I'll tame you if it's the last thing I do on this earth!"
"Stand back from me!" she warned.  "I am sorry for that , but you would not let me go."
"In a jungle garden I plucked a flower and a thorn drew my blood." He said.  "That's an old Swahili saying."
"Do not pluck another." She said.  "Abama spears are sharper than thorns.  Leave this country soon."
  I wont reveal any more of the details of these stories in case you want to read them.  It is sufficient to say that Sheena is not the kind of woman that is easily tamed.
  The discussion on this page largely revolves around Sheena's attitudes to men.  It should be stressed, however, that these pulp stories, like all good pulp stories, are also stirring tales of adventure.  I have intentionally avoided disclosing any details of the exciting action scenes contained in these four tales so that readers' enjoyment of experiencing their favourite jungle heroine in action will not be diminished.  Those familiar with Sheena's exploits in the pages of Jumbo Comics, the Tanya Roberts movie and the small screen representations by Irish McCalla and Gina Lee Nolin, and who have not yet acquainted themselves with Sheena in prose, are in for a rare treat.  The link below will take you to a page where you can access the complete texts of all four stories. 
Click on the image at left to go to the
complete text of all four Sheena stories
• Essay The Indispensable Jungle Queen by Nick Carr in The Pulp Collector Vol 3 No 3 (Winter 1988) - personal collection
• Cover of the Athenian Readers Club reprint of The Sword of Gimshai (1960s?) is from my personal collection
• Cover of Stories of Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Spring 1951, was pilfered from an eBay auction item
• Cover of Jungle Stories, Spring 1954, was pilfered from an eBay auction item

SHEENA © is the property of Sony Pictures Corporation
This independent, fan-based analysis of the Sheena material is copyright © 2006 Paul Wickham