Once more we reach into the little dark corner of the Root Beer Party Comic Archives and bring forth another big little book. This time we look at Buck Rogers of the 25th Century. Written by Pulp Magazine writer Phil Nolin and drawn by Lt. Dick Calkins, Buck Rogers has grown to become one of science fictions first icons. First appearing in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories, he found his fame and his home on the newspaper page on January 7, 1929. This book is one of the first collections of that strip having been published in 1935.
Buck Rogers was an instant success in the comics world and would herald many imitators, such as the legendary Flash Gordon, which was King Features attempt to cash in on the intergalactic space cowboy genre.
This book contains a single storyline where Buck and Wilma discover that a massive Doom comet is headed for the solar system. The story is actually very much ahead of it’s time as it ties in with a lot of the young adult dystopian fiction being written today.
We see the breakdown of society and civilization as Buck and Wilma are really powerless to stop this massive comet from destroying the earth. Many of the inhabitants try to flee the earth in rocket ships, but many find misfortune on other planets as the gravitational pull of the comet wrecks havoc anywhere it passes.
In the end, Buck and Wilma as well as Dr. Huer flee the earth just as the comet nears, but it pulls mountains off the moon and hurls them in their path. Their ship is damaged and they crash back on earth just as the comet passes.
The Earth has been completely demolished as massive tidal waves and hurricane force winds have destroyed any semblance of civilization. We end the story with Buck and Wilma flying out to discover the changes in the brave new world.
Will they be able to rebuild the once great human civilization? What wonders and horrors will await them as they journey to rediscover their home world. All these questions are left to the continuing saga of the Buck Rogers comic strip. So give it a try and check out one of the first science fiction icons as the man who is lost in time tries to navigate his way through the 25th Century.
As I mentioned before, these books can be a little bit pricy to collect as they are old and mostly fell into the hands of children, not many survive in great condition, Some of the more popular title such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon are still around since there were so many made, but even they are hard to find in good condition and for a reasonable price. A good deal on this book would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.
The big little book concept was a very popular series published by the Whitman Publishing Company during the 20’s and all the way up to the 60’s, so there is a vast collection of these to be had they are little and compact books printed on low quality paper, so again, condition is hard to find, but if you do want to collect them, you can find them easily enough, especially the later editions in decent shape that won’t break the bank, so don’t just throw them aside.
There are many collections of Buck Rogers’ comic strips out there and this is just one of many formats. There are movies, serials, and TV shows as well as countless toys. Buck Rogers was one of the first comics to really go all out in merchandising. So there are many ways to check out the adventures of Buck Rogers and his gang and it is well worth the effort to do so.
Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.