Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Tom Corbett, Space Cadet

Before Spock and Kirk, before Starbuck and Apollo, there was Tom Corbett and his fellow Space Cadets. Premiering on television in 1950, Space Cadet Corbett went on to appear on radio, in books, comics, and just about every other medium available at the time. Inspired by Robert Heinlein's juveniles, and with scientific adviser Willy Ley on staff, the series was a cut-above much of the competition, which may be part of the reason for its success. (So successful was it that the term "space cadet" entered the popular lexicon, albeit with a somewhat different meaning.) But nothing golden can stay, and in 1955 the show went off the air, and the character gradually disappeared from the popular consciousness.

But nothing is lost forever.

A while back my online-pal Bill Spangler sent me a preview copy of the first issue of a new Tom Corbett, Space Cadet comic, published by Blue Water. I've been meaning to read it ever since, but been so swamped with work that I've only now had the chance today, a month after the first issue hit the stands, the day before issue two is due out.

I'm glad that I did.

Spangler is no stranger to the work of the Solar Guard. In addition to working with the Alien Nation and Robotech franchises in comics, he previously scripted another comic adaptation of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1990. What he brings to this latest version is a clear affinity for the material, and a solid handle on the characters and the world they inhabit. But this is no slavish continuation of decades' old material, aimed solely at the original graying audience. This new Blue Water version is a fresh take on the concept, as accessible to readers unfamiliar with Tom Corbett as it is to long-time fans.

There are too few "pure quill" science fiction stories for kids out there these days, in any medium--or at least, too few that focus on the "man in space" angle that dominated children's science fiction for much of the last century. And while this new comic isn't specifically aimed at young readers, it's clearly an All Ages affair, as appropriate for a ten-year-old as it is for a pudgy middle aged dude like me. The art by John DaCosta has a pleasant contemporary feel, while at the same time capturing all of the spaceship-and-spacesuit stuff that long-time fans would expect.

If you're a fan of Heinlein juveniles, or old-school space fiction, you could do far worse than to check out the new series. And if there's a young reader in your life, consider passing a copy along to them. This just might be the introduction they'd need to the kind of science fiction that many of us grew up on.

Thank you for the good words. As I think I've heard someone say, I'm glad it didn't disappoint.
I really liked the story, but then again I am a Tom Corbett junkie (some day when the basement office is finished my collection will come out of the boxes and on to the shelves again...).
I can not say that I was a big fan of the art. While I can see where Dacosta has potential once he refines a style of his own. It is there, you can see it on some panels but in others all I see is the work of others in the field.

Just my opinion though...

I really am looking forward to more issues of this though.
Wow...I just read the first Tom Corbett novel (on my ipod) the other day, and thought it was great fun (I'm a huge Heinlein fan, and knew Corbett was inspired by the master).

I agree that there's no much real science fiction out there for kids. I keep hoping that the growth in YA fiction that we've seen the last few years might continue into adult SF.

I'm certainly going to try out this...I'll try and dig up a copy later this week.
Hi Guys, thanks for all the comments- I will say I agree about the art, I think you'll see as the the stories progress, the art gets more and more solid. At the start of the series I did a lot of experimentation with the digital art that got more and more refined with each page/issue. Hopefully you'll agree if you decide to stick with it! thanks!
It's my understanding that all the so-called "art" for this comic was done on a computer late at night... and that's precisely what it looks like, alas.
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