I have been clearing out boxes of old belongings and I found a comic book that I have been holding on to all these years. I remember buying it a newsagent/general store in Bermagui, on the far south coast of NSW, when I was on holidays with my family back in 1969. The comic book featured a range of DC Comic heroes including Superman and Batman. There were other characters, such as Tommy Tomorrow and Aquaman, whom I had never heard of prior to reading this comic book. This comic book was published in Australia early in 1969.
Several stories in I received quite a surprise. One of the characters in a Tommy Tomorrow story was named John Larkin. Now, for a 10 year old, seeing your own name in print in a comic book was quite exciting. Well, it was for me.
The name of this particular story is the “The Lost Secret of Space” and it was originally published in November 1952. The character is discovered by Tommy Tomorrow and his offsider after they land on an asteroid to repair their damaged spaceship. The character John Larkin appears and introduces himself.
It is interesting to see Tommy Tomorrow and his pal, without any spacesuits, wearing bermuda shorts and tight fitting shirts on this asteroid. The John Larkin character is dressed in a similar fashion. The fauna on the planet is interesting as well. I cannot remember whether or not I accepted that vision of the future as a given at the time.
Later in the same comic book there is another Tommy Tomorrow story, entitled “The Planeteer from the Past”, about an astronaut, named Joe Smith, that was frozen in space when his spaceship was holed by an asteroid. He is discovered by Tommy Tomorrow and through the wonders of modern science he is brought back to life, 100 years after his death. He joins Tommy Tomorrow and the planeteers and he finds it a challenge dealing with the demands of life on earth and working in space in the 21st century.
Don’t you just admire the chap with that rather spiffy moustache? The headset is quite a fashion statement as well.
If you explore the panels in the comic strip you can see that the planeteers need no spacesuits or breathing apparatus on Mars, Jupiter of Callisto. It’s a rather exciting and optimistic vision of the future. I miss that vision. It is quite rare these days to see a film or read a book with an optimistic vision of the future these days.
As an aside, you could take any of the panels from these stories, for example the scenes on Jupiter or Callisto, and simply ask your students “What’s wrong with this?”
Do you have similar stories from your own past or future?