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Posts Tagged ‘1961’

  1. Trick or Treat 1961

    October 27, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Here’s a collection of Halloween costumes from October 31, 1961. Ordinarily, I’d be hesitant about posting pictures of other people’s children but these kids are all pushing sixty now.


     
     


  2. The Pixie Dust of Science

    October 25, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    As all comic book readers in 1961 knew, Cosmic Rays are the pixie dust of science. There was  no telling what effects or uses could be attributed to the darn things. They granted fantastic powers like invisibility or controlled human combustion. They could transform a normal man into a super strong pile of orange rocks. They could enable certain speedsters to travel through time.

    I’m not going to burst any bubbles of fantasy on this page, but if you really want to know what cosmic rays are all about, checkout this Japanese educational comic book published in 2008: What are Cosmic Rays?


  3. Seacon 1961

    October 24, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    This post is even more belated than usual since the 19th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Seacon, was held September 2-4, 1961.  Held at the Hyatt House Hotel, Seattle was a fortunate site for a Science Fiction convention since a year later the city would host the future-themed Century 21 Exposition (better  known as the Seattle World’s Fair.) Only a few blocks from the hotel was the unfinished Space Needle, still missing its flying saucer-shaped top.

    The guest of honor at the 19th Worldcon was Robert A. Heinlein, who gave a speech titled “The Future Revisited”. The Toastmaster was Harlan Ellison and the convention chairman was Wally Weber.

    The following Hugo Awards (named after Hugo Gernsback) were presented for the best science fiction or fantasy works of 1960.

    Best Novel – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
    Best Short Fiction – “The Longest Voyage” by Poul Anderson
    Best Dramatic Presentation – The Twilight Zone (TV series) by Rod Serling
    Best Professional Magazine – Astounding/Analog edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.
    Best Professional Artist – Ed Emshwiller
    Best Fanzine – Who Killed Science Fiction? edited by Earl Kemp

    Other notable attendees… You know what? Let’s skip the rest of the program and get straight to the good stuff. Fifty-year-old cosplay!


  4. The Other DC (Commando & Victor Comics)

    October 22, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    D. C. Thomson & Co. is a publishing company based in Dundee, Scotland, which in addition to  publishing newspapers like The Dundee Courier, The Evening Telegraph and The Sunday Post, also produces comic books like Beano, The Dandy and Commando.   In 1884, David Coupar Thomson took over his family’s publishing business and in 1905 established it as D.C. Thomson. Thomson and his company were (and, to an extent, still are) notable for their conservatism. Early in the century, D. C. Thomson & Co vigorously opposed the introduction of trade unions into their workforce, and even refused to hire Catholics.

    This conservatism was reflected in the extreme British nationalism on display in two fervently patriotic comic book titles introduced in 1961; The Victor and Commando. The Victor debuted in January 1961 and had an incredible run of 1,657 issues before its cancellation in 1992. Commando, which was first published in June 1961, is still being published with an astounding issue count rapidly approaching 4,500!  Here is a small sample of covers from those two books’  inaugural year:


  5. Closer Than We Think!

    October 21, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Arthur Radebaugh was an industrial designer who spent most of his career working  for the  automotive industry. Between 1958 and 1962 he moonlit as a futurist illustrator writing and drawing the syndicated Sunday comic strip Closer Than We Think! 

    Click the images for a larger view.


  6. Mobot the Magnificent Mobile Robot

    October 20, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    In 1961, the Hughes Aircraft Electronic Labs introduced the world to Mobot the Magnificent Mobile Robot. Mobot had about the same mass as all of the appliances in your kitchen combined (assuming you owned two refrigerators) and was designed to automate tiresome household tasks like zipping a dress or doing your nails. The only drawback was that  an on-staff PhD in electrical engineering had to be sitting behind a nearby control board to make it work.

    I wonder if Ed Emshwiller’s illustration for the January, 1955 cover of Galaxy Science Fiction was an inspiration for this wildly impractical household appliance.

    Whenever I’m short on ideas for this blog, I can always count on the  LIFE photo archive hosted by Google.


  7. Frankenstein (Assembly Required)

    October 19, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Like  rival hobby company Revell, the mainstay of Aurora Plastics’ line of model kits in the Fifties was scale-model, unassembled replicas of military hardware, although Aurora’s were generally smaller and more affordable than Revell’s. Around 1955, Aurora expanded its line to include plastic figurines of medieval knights, clowns, and traditionally dressed people from around the world (“Guys and Gals of all Nations”).

    Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Universal Pictures realized there was still money to be made off of their old monster films from previous decades. Universal packaged films featuring Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, and other ghouls for broadcast over local TV channels. The local stations created assorted horror hosts to present these films. When the local stations began getting mail from their viewers they were surprised to find that a large percentage of those watching the old monster movies were teenaged or younger. The popularity of these films with children might be explained by the extinction of the horror comic book in 1954 when public opinion and the new Comics Code Authority deemed the horror genre to be inappropriate for children. Children with a taste for horror simply switched from reading comic books to watching “creature features” on their local television stations and maybe picking up a copy of  Forrest Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland.  Knowing that their audience was largely made up of young people, the horror hosts softened the horror they presented with touches of humor and ridicule that made the genre seem less threatening to adults, while Famous Monsters gave a behind the scenes look that assured everyone that it was all just made up.

    Sometime in early 1961, it suddenly became acceptable to directly market monsters to children (TV stations and Famous Monsters could always argue that adults were the target audience). It started with bubblegum cards like Spook Stories and Horror Monsters, however toy manufacturers were still leary. A hobby company on the cusp of adult and childhood pastimes was an ideal path to full acceptance of monsters in the playroom.  Looking to expand its line of figurines beyond little Dutch boys and the Black Knight, Aurora bought the rights to manufacture models of all of the monsters who had appeared in Universal motion pictures.  The models created under this license would prove to be Aurora’s most successful line of plastic models ever.

    Aurora’s first Universal monster model was a 1/12 scale figure model of Frankenstein’s Monster in 1961. Selling for $1.00, the 7-inch tall figurine sold so well that Aurora had to temporarily suspend production of its other models to keep up with demand. Some buyers may have been disappointed when they opened the box to find the plain white pieces of plastic that needed to be carefully twisted apart before undergoing a process that involved several hours, various paints and brushes, and mind-altering glue fumes. Helping sales, no doubt, was the wonderful artwork on the box by James Bama who would do most of the  box top art for Aurora in the Sixties.


  8. What was Lois Lane up to 50 Years Ago? (Pt. 3)

    October 18, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Not that I ever need an excuse to revisit the goofy world of Lois Lane in 1961, but yesterday was Margot Kidder’s birthday and I feel kind of bad that I didn’t post this installment of “What was Lois Lane up to 50 Years Ago” a day earlier.  This story is one that was somehow overlooked when I posted about DC weddings a few weeks ago.

    In Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #28 (October, 1961) we find  a story called “Lois Lane, Gun-Moll”.

    “There’s an old theory that, as in the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — each person has two personalities — one good, one evil — and that they battle for control until one dominates the other! Theory…or fact? You’ll soon see for yourself, as you watch a familiar friend change from good to evil — from reporter to robber — to become known as the notorious… Lois Lane, Gun-Moll!

    Of course, Lois’ reaction to the ray is only delayed. When it kicks in, Perry and Jimmy are the first to observe Lois in her new “evil” persona. Lois’ sister and roomie, Lucy also notices a difference.

    While snooping around in Lois’ room Lucy discovers some stolen jewelry and realizes that Lois is moonlighting as Metropolis’ newest super-villainess, the Leopard Lady. Lois chloroforms her sister and (after punching Lucy’s boyfriend Jimmy Olsen in the nose) takes her back to the Leopard Lady’s secret lair where Lois and her gang are planning their next job.

    The robbery at the Daily Planet  is interrupted by Superman in his guise as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Kent pretends to be knocked unconscious when Leopard Lady Lois cracks him in the head with the butt of a tommy-gun, and then follows Lois and her gang back to their hideout. Superman quickly takes out Lois’ two goons but Lois lays him low with a boulder made of synthetic kryptonite. While Superman struggles against the effects of the kryptonite, Lois informs him that she’s sick of waiting around for him to return her love and has found a new man…Lex Luthor! Lois and Luthor announce their intention to be married and make a quick exit before the synthetic kryptonite wears off.

    True to their promise, the next day, the self-proclaimed King and Queen of Crime are married on the steps of city hall where a force field prevents the police or Superman from doing anything about it. As the justice of the peace asks if anyone objects to the union, Superman pounds on the force field screaming, “I object! I do! If only I could batter through!” After the justice proclaims Mr. and Mrs. Lex Luthor man and wife, Lois turns to Superman and sneers, “Hear that, Superman? That makes it official! You had your chance to marry me, but you muffed it!” The force dome explodes and the newlyweds make their escape. Superman is so dejected, even Lana Lang doesn’t want to exploit the mopey superhero’s new relationship status.

    Meanwhile back at the hideout Lex Luthor and his gang are yucking it up over the look on Superman’s face at the wedding.  The merriment is short-lived as Superman bursts through the door and turns to Lois still in her bridal gown and proclaims, “There is evil in you Lois, an evil that must be destroyed — burned out!”  Superman then uses his heat-ray vision to…reduce Lois Lane to a pile of ashes!

    Relax! It was a robot Lois Lane all along!

       


  9. Marvel Monsters Roll Call for Oct. 1961

    October 13, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Monsteroso – Amazing Adventures #5: The alien child Monsteroso accidentally presses the escape pod button of his parent’s spaceship and is carried down to Earth where the pod crashes in the African jungle.  Monsteroso’s unconscious body is discovered by an American circus owner who sells the supposedly dead creature to a New York museum.  The alien child awakes and  explores the city until the military attacks him. The frightened monster tries to flee by climbing to the top of  the UN building. The army shoots him with a tranquilizer dart and he falls into the river. His parents suddenly arrive and rescue their child warning the earthlings that, “It is fortunate he is unharmed. Fortunate…FOR YOU.” and leave Earth.

    The Spider – Journey into Mystery #73:  A physicist working at an atomic research lab in New Mexico goes into work one day unknowingly with a spider in his pants cuff. The creature becomes bombarded by the atomic rays and grows to a huge size, gaining the power to think and speak, and then attacks the humans. The physicist tricks the spider into snagging a missile test with its web and when it climbs towards it, the missile detonates and kills The Spider.

    Fin Fang Foom – Strange Tales #89: In his debut, Fin Fang Foom was merely an ancient hibernating dragon  who is deliberately awakened from his slumber in a cave by an anti-communist Taiwanese man,  Chen Liuchow, whose homeland is under threat from the Red Chinese. Chen uses a special herb to awaken the dragon, and taunts Foom with the threat of another herb that will put him back to sleep. Chen goads Foom into chasing him, and leads him straight into the Communist invasion force, which Foom destroys. With the Red threat eliminated, Chen leads Fin Fang Foom back into his cave, where the sleep herb returns Foom to his hibernative state. But that wasn’t the last the Marvel Universe would hear from Fin Fang Foom.

    The Abominable Snowman – Tales to Astonish #24: A TV producer receives a request to produce a film of the Abominable Snowman so he and his crew set off for the Himalayas. Unconvinced that such a creature exists, the producer dresses up in a costume, but one of his assistants sees him and follows behind. Suddenly, the fur-clad producer is seized by a much larger furry creature who claims that he had been searching for him. The creature (revealed to be a lizardman in disguise) takes the producer to a drill machine and the assistant sneaks in too. They travel deep underground to a city of lizardmen who have been looking for a lost explorer who wears a shaggy costume for protection from the cold. He must still be alive as they live for a thousand years. They are hostile to the producer and attempt to place him into a cage. He makes a break for it and runs into the cave of a thousand winds. While he is helplessly buffeted by winds from different directions, the assistant sneaks up behind the lizardmen guarding the cave’s mouth and lobs explosives at them which throw them into the cave’s strong winds as well. The assistant extends a rope to the producer and they escape toward the black pool which holds a ”octo-monster”. They escape from its clutches and come across the drill machine while fleeing the lizardmen. They take the machine back to the surface and destroy it with the remaining explosives.

    Bruttu – Tales of Suspense #22: A milksop scientist working on an experimental machine is thinking of a comic book monster when an accidental discharge of energy transforms him into the creature’s likeness. He goes on an unintended rampage through town because he can no longer speak and communicate his non-hostile intentions, the military authorities attack and drive him into the woods. While approaching a small house he gets the idea that he can write with an object, but the owner drives him away with a rifle. He loves his research assistant and, coming to the realization that the army will eventually destroy him, resolves to see her one last time. He approaches her home and uses a rake to write in the ground he means no harm, but since the scientist disappeared when the monster appeared, the woman jumps to the conclusion that he “has killed the man I loved.” Since he realizes now what a fool he has been for wanting to be big and strong since the woman he loved loved him just the way he was, he returns to the atomic machine and bathes in its rays once more thinking of the man he had been. He changes back and embraces his true love.



  10. Thriller Picture Library: Jet-Ace Logan

    October 7, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Thriller Picture Library was a 64 page digest-sized comic book with black & white interior art.  Each page usually consisted of two panels; one on top of the other. Published four times a month in Britain by Fleetway it ran serialized stories featuring a variety of war, spy, and detective heroes. In 1961 the featured characters were Dogfight DixonJohn Steel, Battler Britton, Spy 13with one-off appearances by Dick Daring of the Mounties and our old friend Jet-Ace Logan.

    Jet-Ace Logan was a space pilot with the RAF, 100 years in the future. He and his wingman, Plumduff  were entrusted to thwart the plans of nefarious aliens, smugglers, and other space-baddies. Where Dick Daring‘s sole Thriller appearance in 1961 was the character’s swan song issue, Jet-Ace Logan‘s was the first of  a dozen appearances that would see out the end of  Thriller Picture Library in 1963.  Jet-Ace Logan was usually found in Fleetway’s Comet and Tiger magazines between 1956 and 1968. It’s doubtful that the stories that ended up in Thriller were excess inventory from Tiger where it was running in serial during 1961. The large Tiger magazine featured a dozen or more panels to the page compared to the digest-sized Thriller‘s 2-4 panels per page. Issue 383 was published in 1961 and issue 391 was Thriller‘s first issue of 1962.