Thursday, February 15, 2018


I dunno about you, but over the years I've developed a pretty good hankerin' for classic postwar Science Fiction comic strips. Y'know,  the kind with everything from flashy spaceships depicted in a flashy Wallace Wood and Al Williamson style for WEIRD SCIENCE/FANTASY to even a good short story showing a dystopian future which strangely enough doesn't resemble 2018 ifyacanbelievethat! I guess my love for this kinda mid-forties to mid-sixties-styled entertainment dates from the days when Dick Tracy was cruising the Moon, or perhaps that one summer when my cyster demanded that we watch the morning cartoons that were on channel 21 'stead of 33 (the ones with CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST that I favored) thus introducing me to the should by now be infamous SPACE ANGEL brand of cheap animation with the actual moving lips.

It was with this spirit of interstellar wonderment filtered through the pre-postmodern miasma of more current SF that I decided to get this COMPLETE collection of  the legendary or so I'm told BEYOND MARS comic strip. "Legendary" not only because of its overall quality in a medium that was just bursting with it but because the thing only ran in ONE newspaper which really lowered its status in the realm of overall exposure amongst the kinda suburban slob who woulda just loved the thing to the dickens!

BEYOND MARS was as good a slab of futuristic adventure as any EC title or FLASH GORDON Sunday that wallowed about during those years that were a whole lot more fun (that is, if you were a human with a straight-on head) than the naysayers of today make 'em out to be. The strip stars Mike Flint, a (thankfully) clayless footed hero type all the young guys wanted to grow up to be like back then who made his living on an asteroid named "Brooklyn Rock" as a space pilot for hire. Flint has in his employ a mechanic named Sam, a green skinned/metallic shelled legless Venusian who talks with a lisp to the point where he is eventually known as"Tham". And no, please don't ask me.

Other weirdities appear throughout the strip's run from the blue-skinned boy named Jimikin who is discovered riding a meteor through space wearin' nothin' but Ghandipants to some of the creepiest and evilest (remember that word?) bad guys and gals---you oughta see Cobra, the android made from the "warm flesh" cells of the boy's dead mother who makes most of those wimmen with bad intent look like Suzie Sidesaddle! The stories ain't dour either what with the weekly cliffhangers and tension-packed sagas which ya know woulda gotten any Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid all balled up until next week's installment and I should know!

Science Fiction regular Jack Williamson's writing is as focused and as intense as anything that was happening on the legit Sci Fi front  or in the comic books (though with none of the outright carnage mind you), while Lee Elias' artwork is close enough to Milton Caniff without, like EC's Johnny Craig, looking like a total cop (better'n George Wunder even!). And for a strip that I didn't even have known existed in the first place until I saw that  "Comic Strip Old Folk's Home" illustration in a late-fifties MORE TRASH FROM MAD I gotta say that it was a nice slide back into the pre-metastasized socially conscious SF realm from the days when things like exciting stories, fine artwork and a general sense of man and his destiny were being portraying in a right, proper way!

No comments: