Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Obscurity of the Day: A Trip to Mars
W. Clyde Spencer did not have a particularly memorable career as a newspaper cartoonist. He managed to place a total of four comic strip series in the 1910s: one to the New York Herald, one to the New York World, and a pair to the New York Evening Telegram. It's one of these Telegram strips that should at least earn him a footnote in comic strip history, for it is one of the earliest science fiction strips.
Now when I say sci-fi, we aren't talking at the level of Asimov, or even Buck Rogers, or even My Favorite Martian. No, Spencer's strip, grandly titled A Trip to Mars, is actually pretty down to Earth in its aspirations. A young couple decide to take a trip to Mars, and they find that it is a very weird world ... but mostly in that the subway runs on time, bosses treat their employees with kindness, and (see above) politicians actually come through on their promises.
Spencer's nod to real otherworldliness is that the Martians have tentacles instead of arms, and all the surroundings are drawn as dotted outlines. I'm not sure what the dot conceit is meant to signify -- is everything transparent? Shrug.
A Trip to Mars ran sporadically in the Telegram from January 14 to April 19 1911.
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