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Classic Comic Cover Corner – Outer Space #17

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Outer Space #17 – May, 1958

Cover art by Rocco Mastroserio

Outer Space #17 – May, 1958
Outer Space #17 – May, 1958

The new Christopher Nolan film, Interstellar, hit theaters last week and watching it put me into a “future ain’t what it used to be” state of mind (as the old expression goes.) Fantasy space exploration has been the subject of countless classic pulp magazine and comic book stories, many of which, I’m sure, influenced Nolan’s latest movie.

Imagined futures that have never come to pass are endlessly fascinating to me. From John Carter to Back to the Future, there’s just something enchantingly magical about seeing the futures our forefathers envisioned compared to the actual stark reality of our current times.

Outer Space #17 – May, 1958
Outer Space #17 – May, 1958

Although I’m not thrilled with the deus ex machina plot mechanisms used in Interstellar (among some other issues with the story), I did love the film’s underlying commentary on man’s abandonment of exploration.

There is an excellent and honest line by Matthew McConaughey’s character in the movie, who says, “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

Outer Space #17 – May, 1958
Outer Space #17 – May, 1958

The classic Charlton comic, Outer Space #17 (1958), perfectly captures a more innocent era, as mankind was just beginning to seriously consider taking its first steps towards the stars. The book’s editor, Pat Masulli, wrote an introduction to the comic that shows the excitement that potential space exploration used to hold for “every American.” Well, except for those who thought it was “preposterous” and “ridiculous.”

It’s a freaky fact of life that our future changes every day, and in the case of women in space the outlook has obviously changed tremendously since 1958. As you can see in the attached panel from the Outer Space comic’s story, “The Dream” (which I’m certain was written by a man), women couldn’t even comprehend the world of astroengineering.

Fifty-six years later, in 2014’s Interstellar, it’s a woman who actually…well, you’ll have to go see the movie. But you can read the whole Outer Space #17 comic book over at the Internet’s best public domain comic book archive, Enjoy!

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.