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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

Sci-Fi... Seriously?

Friday, September 15, 2006


From love to war, when it came to fiction, mainstream magazines of the 50's covered all the bases - and thoroughly, week after week. But the handful of science fiction stories you see here this week represent the total content of the 200 or so issues of the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's magazines in my collection - just a dozen or so stories. Sci-Fi, it seems, was not much in demand with the general public - or at least the editors of the Post and Collier's didn't percieve it to be.

And when they did run a sci-fi story, the material leaned towards the hoaky, campy stuff like the one illustrated by Bernard D'Andrea (above). Reflecting that sensibility, the regular roster of mainstream illustrators seemed a bit lost with the subject matter. The D'Andrea piece is a good example of what I mean: these guys look like the fellows from the office, decked out in costumes borrowed from the set of the Captain Video tv show.
That's not to say there wasn't the occassional authentic stab at SF; both The Death Dust (above) and The Shock (below) are genuinely creepy tales worthy of EC comics or Twilight Zone status. But in general, comic books, especially EC comics, were doing this material far better at that time. I would guess the same would be true for the science fiction pulp magazines of the day, but I'm not that familiar with those publications.
Don't forget; you can see all of this week's images at full size in my new Sci-Fi Flickr set.

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