So far we’ve just been teased but something fantastic seems to be happening at Diet Smith Industries. Joe Staton’s June 18th rendering of Diet Smith’s new tower project bears a resemblance to Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower. Funded by a Diet like predecessor, J.P. Morgan, Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower was a pilot plant for a worldwide system of wireless towers that could provide electricity wirelessly through the atmosphere and possibly control the weather and communicate text and images across the globe. Out of this world concepts in 1900 and exciting even today. Unfortunatly for Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi’s far cheaper invention of the trans-Atlantic wireless telegraph signal effectively ended his dreams of a wirelessly powered planet. While we are simply basing this theory on a single strip panel, this does sound like something Diet might be interested in. Plus it gives us a chance to plug our favorite Damn Interesting website where you can read more about Tesla’s Tower of Power!
Today (June 19th), Diet Smith told Oliver Warbucks and Dick Tracy of his plans to recreate the Philadelphia Experiment, an alleged 1943 military experiment involving invisibility, teleportation and possibly time-travel. There are many competing stories on the experiment, which involved enveloping the USS Eldridge in an invisibility field. This field was created by bending light around the Navy Destroyer. According to unified field theory, the process of bending light also bends space-time which can cause teleportation and time-travel. The USS Eldridge is said to have vanished from Philadelphia, teleported briefly to Norfolk Virginia and returned, with many crew members made sick, crazy or embedded into bulk heads. If Diet is trying to re-create this experiment, we wonder which parts he’s really interested in and hope he’s keeping his employees safe! I’m sure all these answers will be coming soon and we can’t wait to see what’s really going on!
Nearly all of the two dozen Dick Tracy Big Little Books are simple novelizations of the comic strips and movie serials. So when I found Dick Tracy on Voodoo Island I was excited. An original Dick Tracy story from 1944 featuring Voodoo magic? Yes, please! Unfortunately the book left me disappointed in the lack of Voodoo and feeling quite uncomfortable for other reasons. I will explain. Continue reading
Over forty years before Chester Gould introduced us to the fantastical Moon Maid, Edgar Rice Burrough wrote “The Moon Maid” novels. Born in Chicago, Burrough was a prolific writer, best known for writing the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars novels. In 1919, shortly before the end of World War I, Edgar began by writing the middle part of his Mood Maid trilogy but failed to find much traction with publishers who were eager for his next Tarzan story. He went on to write two more Tarzan stories and it wasn’t until he wrote the first book in the trilogy, did his story see publication in the Argosy All-Story Weekly. (May 5, 12, 19, 26 and June 2, 1923)
The story begins in 1967 (Burrough’s future) with the endless Great War (World War I) finally ending and the Earth destroying all its weapons in an atempt to return to peace. Admiral Julian 3rd tells the reader his future, how he will be reborn as his grandson Julian 5th in the next century to journey through space and crash-land on the Moon. There Julian finds not the airless rock that we know but a planet like world with plants and creatures. The Moon, Julian discovers, is actually hollow and inside he finds the Moon Maid, Nah-ee-lah. Introduced as an angelic female, Nah-ee-lah’s wings have been ripped from her body and she and Julian are forced through many adventures together and soon fall in love as evil communist like Kalkers take over the Moon. The Kalkers are Burrough’s take on the Bolsheviks.
In parallel to Gould’s Moon Maid & Junior, Julian takes Nah-ee-lah back to Earth at the end of the story where the two are married and Julian 6th is born. There the similarities end. The sequel books, The Moon Men, in which Julian 9th refuses to bow down to conquering Kolkar Moon Men and The Red Hawk wherein Julian 20th leads humanity to throw off the yoke of the Kolkar invaders many centuries later do not include the Moon Maid.
Chester Gould and Edgar Rice Burrough both wrote in the same era and one might suppose Chester was familiar with the Tarzan author and named his Moon Maid in homage to Burrough’s science fiction story. Then again, it’s possible the maid from the moon term was simply one that resonated with both men.
Due to the age of the story and Burrough’s death in 1950, the copyright for Moon Maid has expired in the United States and many other countries. You can read the Moon Maid on the Australian Gutenberg Project website here. There are a number of edited/annotated copies of The Moon Maid on Amazon, which is legal because of the expired copyright. Be careful and read the reviews if you go that route, many are out to make some easy money and are reportedly awful.
Fifty-seven and a half years after it’s destruction, Flattop Junior’s car has returned. Swindler and murderer Silver Nitrate and his sister Sprocket are on the run from the police and have just the vehicle to escape, the sweet ride of the late Flattop Jr!
Introduced in March of 1956, the teenage son of Flattop was a mechanical genius who modified his ride with features well ahead of his time. Sporting a dash-board fridge, passenger side television and safe, with a running water sink and a hot plate stove in the back, young Jones and his passenger Joe Period lived for a time in the car, listening to tunes on a hi-fi LP record player. Everything was available at the push of a button and hid back into the vehicle just as easily. To help keep ahead of the cops, Flattop Jr. also installed a short wave radio scanner, bulletproof glass and a hidden emergency brake to keep the vehicle where he left it.
The Junior Jones’s car is one of the well remembered technical marvels created by Chester Gould. It reminds some of the James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, but that spy-mobile didn’t come about until Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger in 1959 (the movie came later) so Flattop’s vehicle has seniority. As an interesting side note, Fleming was also the author of another well-known car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which he wrote for his son Caspar.
As if often the case of these engineering marvels, destruction occured. Flattop Jr’s awesome car was trapped inside an abandoned theater when police surrounded him and he chose to burn the theater down. The vehicle was torched with very little besides the frame surviving. Still it allowed the teenage criminal cover to escape…for a time. Now it appears the vehicle has been restored to its original glory and will once again take part in a classic Dick Tracy chase, which begs the question, where do Silver and Sprocket put their Hyena, Lena?
From a mountaintop in the distant future, citizen-scientist Captain Video and his Video Rangers battle the evil of the Astroidal Society preserve peace in the future. This was the plot of a nightly science fiction show, featuring outlandish weapons and high-tech gizmos. Captain Video we now know was also aging thespian Vitamin Flintheart’s debut in show business! Wandering into the DuMont building, Flintheart was cast as one of the Captain’s Video Rangers, but sadly footage of the film was lost…until now!