Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Space Police

As mentioned previously, Planet Comics by the publisher Fiction House featured several long-running adventure serials that in some instances lasted several decades. Likewise, in nearly every issue of Planet Comics alongside the usual stories were an "educational" feature that, like the adventuresome space opera, also successfully transferred from the pulp-era into the Golden Age of comics. In the Silver Age of DC this type of feature would continue as space-filler and various PSA's or informational text pages until the requirements in postage regulation changed and the Comics Code Authority relaxed. The PSA's were then dropped and precious space and heavy pages were quickly filled in favor of more story and advertisements.

The Life on Other Worlds and other installments shared many similarities with the pulps in the unlikely and fantastic. The science, while probable then went into bizarre territory and just ran with an idea, no matter how improbable the outcome. Each installment of Life on Other Worlds detailed the environment and native life of both real and imaginary planets. Mars was an arid scorching desert, Venus was a steaming jungle, etc. A few of the chapters focused on daily life and one even speculated what an interstellar police force would be like and what challenges they would face while maintaining the thin, fabulously-hued line.

While the features were not graced with the art of Frank R. Paul (with the exception of a few comic books) a few notable artists were regulars of the short series. Murphy Anderson was one of them. Murphy Anderson had a long and distinguished career in the comics and illustration fields and is considered by many to be the definitive artist for Superman. This honor was bestowed upon him long before the opus he created with Alan Moore in the modern classic "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" and he did some finely detailed work that those familiar with the more economical pencils and inks of the 1970s and 1980s may not be aware of.

Presented below is the two-page Space Police feature by Murphy Anderson. From Planet #58 (January 1958). Full of pulpy goodness.

In reading some comics I've often wondered why the uniforms of the future were so ostentatious and impractical. The lowliest privates in the Space Army dressed like the Czar of Russia and even the janitors wore sashes and sagged under the weight of a chest-full of medals. Such displays really smack of desperation and smells like totalitarianism peacockness. But then I thought about how great some of our spacemen would look in a cape. I could see some early pioneer of the stars climbing the gantry and turning to the newsreel cameras, raising his silver-gloved fist to the heavens and shouting "God Bless the USA!", whipping around and snapping his cape out with a flourish, velor material majestically billowing up, out and down as he seats himself in the cramped quarters of the Project Mercury capsule, busy technicians strapping him in and connecting hoses, stroking the cape with a lint brush...

It totally works.

1 comment:

  1. You'd think that a cape like that would get in the way all the time. You gotta flourish it and then it's hitting control panels and switches and stuff.

    Hey Sleestak, Zaius requested a picture of you and I fighting over a slice of pizza. You can see it on my blog. http://joninterglad.blogspot.com/

    If you have a suggestion for an iDoodle, feel free to suggest away.


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