Friday, January 18, 2008
News of Yore: Twin Earths Debuts
UF Adds 'Twin Earths' To Space Fiction Ranks
By Erwin Knoll (6/7/52)
Outer Space versus Wide Open Spaces has been the big debate in comic strip circles in recent months. Science fiction devotees have laid claim to the Westerns' previous mantle of pre-eminence, while cowboy interests have termed the space stuff a mere flash in the pan.
The science fiction trend, which several months ago brought on a heavy crop of new interplanetary strips and old strips converted to science fiction, seems to have quieted down a bit. Until this week, that is, when United Feature Syndicate gave the whole thing new impetus by announcing "Twin Earths," described by the syndicate as a "realistic" science fiction strip. The list of papers signed in advance is impressive.
Twin Planet Theme
The theme of "Twin Earths" is that there is a planet called Terra, a twin and counterpart of our Earth, travelling along the same orbit but hidden from us by the Sun. The people of Terra are some years ahead of us scientifically, and have invented spaceships— remember those flying saucers?— from which to snoop on Earth. They've even got agents working here.
One of these, a girl named Vana, who will be with the strip throughout, turns herself in to the P.B.I, and gets the plot of "Twin Earths" under way. She is taken in hand by Garry Verth, assistant director of the bureau, who will serve as the strip's male lead. That about takes care of the first six weeks of daily releases, and what happens next is anybody's guess. One more detail—for some obscure reason, 92 per cent of the people on Terra are women.
Some of the action in "Twin Earths" will take place on Terra, some on Earth, and some on space-ships in between. There'll be no interplanetary warfare, though. Creator Oskar Lebeck says he intends to keep "Twin Earths" on an adult level, even make it slightly educational without tampering with the strip's primary function as an entertainment medium.
Though Mr. Lebeck is writer, not artist, on the "Twin Earths" strip, he is a past master of brush and pen. He began his career as a stage designer for Max Reinhardt in Europe, later worked for Ziegfeld and Earl Carroll on Broadway. After working as an industrial designer for several years, he joined Western Printing and Lithographing Co. and the Dell Publishing Co. as art director and managing editor of comic books. He is now in semi-retirement, though still a consultant to Dell. Mr. Lebeck is author of three books of science fiction.
The artist who will execute Mr. Lebeck's ideas of the future, including such items as houses made of Polaroid glass which turn with the position of the Sun and chemical food factories which grow organic foods, such as meat, in synthetic forms, is Alden McWilliams. He is a veteran comic book illustrator and has also done some newspaper strip work.
"Twin Earths" will be available for daily six-a-week release beginning June 16. A Sunday page, following a separate story line, is in the works.
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