A Fine Day in Space
When I was a kid I was a Boy Scout. I had a subscription to Boy's Life, a large-format monthly filled with short stories, fact articles, lots of ads for guns and...a comics section!
Naturally this was my favorite part of the magazine. The section ran full- and half-page color comics, their subject matter divided amongst fact, humor and adventure. I later learned these strips were produced by Johnstone and Cushing, the legendary comic art studio. At the time I was reading Boy's Life the section's roster included "The Tracy Twins," "True Stories of Scouts in Action," "Tono of the Longhouse People," biblical and historical one-shots, and my favorite, an s-f series called "Space Conquerors."
From my garage/midden I've recovered the handful of tearsheets I clipped from the magazine in the early 1960s. For years they'd been my only mementos of the series. Three cheers for the Internet! While googling in preparation for this post I discovered a complete index of the series with links to every episode in Google Books' run of Boy's Life!
I learned that the feature began in 1952 and went through several reboots as well as periods during which it simply presented astronomical facts. The story I'm posting turns out to have been the first episode of one of those reboots. It introduces three nameless astronauts exploring space in the first faster-than-light spaceship. Early episodes were rather tame, but later the series became a wild and woolly space opera. Not that the stories were very good: half a page per month made for sketchy plots and no characterization. It didn't help that the writer (presumably Al Stenzel) occasionally changed plans in mid-story.
This 1962-1963 episode was drawn by Lou Fine in his most generic style. Art on the strip was generally good. Fine had replaced George Evans, who had replaced the second of two guys I don't recognize. Fine drew several stories, then Alden McWilliams took over for a long run. After a surprise appearance by Gray Morrow, Fine returned. This time his art was more elaborate, though in some strips he seems to have been inked by another hand. Fine died in 1971, so the art variations may have been related to illness.According to Planettom, the series ended in 1972. However I swear that years later...maybe the mid-1980s?...I came across a copy of Boy's Life, now thinner and in a smaller format, and found an episode of "Space Conquerors" drawn by Ernesto Colon. Did I dream this? Does anyone know about post-1970s Boy's Life comics? Several later "Space Conquerors" originals are out there. Here's a nice 1964 page from Stephen Donnelly's collection. From near the end of the strip's run comes this one from 1971 which belongs to Alan Crouse. Both are by Fine.