Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nothing Left To Chance

Saturday Leftover Day.

Here's a weird series that would really deserve a nice representation in book form. Closer Than We Think ran in the late fifties and early sixties. It was a product of it's time, when the interest in science and the future reached a new high in the wake of the launch of the Russian satelite Sputnik in late 1957. Many comic strips and newspaper strips featuring 'science heroes' were started. Unlike the juvenile science fiction boom of the early fifties, these stories were all more grounded, many set only 'a few years' into the future. Jck Kirby's Sky Masters is an pretty well known example, but there als was a strip called Drift Marlo and Jerry Robinson's Jet Scott can be seen as a precursor. There also were a couple of sciency factual panel strips, such as Our Space Age by Otto Binder and Our New Age by Athelstan Spilhaus. Closer Than We Think was done by commercial illustrator Arthur Radenbaugh. In it, he illustrated real life innovations that were being worked on rigth at that moment and could become part of our households very soon. For his information he often quoted scientists and people higher up in the gernment or the military. All very impressive. But what makes this Sunday only series, which ran for five years, so special is that in all of my years of collecting them (and I have quite a few) I never came across even one 'invention' that actually was made! Part of that could be because of his fancifull science fiction influenced way of illustration these futuristic images, but mostly the inventions themselves are silly at best usually unnessecary. With 200/300 samples to choose from, I think a great book could be made of the weirdest of them. And maybe this time around, he could even influence some artists or designers with them, because as poplar as this strip was, it never seems to have been used as reference material by any movie, comic book or television designers.

As I said, I have quite a few of these strips, but most of them are from a paper where have about five or six interesting things to scan in every paper, making it all move forward very slowly. Consider this a first sample. A fuller representation may be... closer than we think! There is a short article about Radenbaugh and this strip online by the way. Maybe a bt too respectful - from this piece you get the impression his innovations were actually acurate sometimes.

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