In the 60's Gold Key/Western Publishing issued comic book tie-ins for almost
all of Irwin Allen's major 60's SF TV series: "Time Tunnel", "Voyage to
the Bottom of the Sea" and "Land of the Giants", but significantly not
for his most popular show "Lost in Space." The simple reason for the
exclusion was that Gold Key already had released a comic dealing with
the Space Family Robinson as far back as late 1962. Rather than changing
the comic to suit the new TV series, the publishers decided to
continue with the already popular existing story and characters.
For the most part the comic was well written, beautifully illustrated
and had striking covers which echoed the pulp science fiction covers of
the 40's and 50's. However, the comic book and TV series actually had very
little in common. While the main protagonists were called Robinsons, the
comparison between the two ends there. In the comic, there are only 4
continuing characters: Craig Robinson, his wife June, and their two
children, Tim and Tam. Characters such as Dr. Smith and the Robot did not exist. The
comic Robinson's lived on a space station called "K-7" instead of a flying saucer.
Despite the differences it's interesting that the
comic was able to outlive the TV series by almost 10 years.
You might be wondering why the Gold Key comic is being considered
at all here since it has no apparent connection with the TV series.
Actually there are some subtle and interesting connections. First of
all, there is a wide spread belief that the comic book which preceded
the TV series by two years, had been the main inspiration for Irwin
Allen. Gold Key had already issued their first Irwin Allen based comic
in late 1964 (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) so while this point is
open for contention one thing for sure is that it is very likely Allen
would have had some knowledge of the comic prior to developing his
own concept for the TV show. Secondly, if the Gold Key "Space Family
Robinson" comic had not already existed then one could safely assume
that a comic book more closely based on the TV series would have
eventuated. One interesting question that has been raised is whether
the TV series would have followed the same path if Gold Key
hadn't published their version first.
In issue #14 "Star-Trapped" (dated October 1965) a letter appeared in
the letter column which mentioned that "Space Family would
make a great TV program." The editor's prophetic reply was: "Many things
turn up on TV - perhaps Space Family Robinson will, too." Significantly,
beginning with the next issue, the comic was renamed: "Space Family
Robinson: Lost in Space." This issue was dated January 1966 - just a
short time after the TV series premiere. Later, after the TV series was
cancelled, the comic changed it's name again becoming "Space Family
Robinson: Lost in Space on Space Station One." This change probably
reflected the publisher's desire to avoid any association with a
cancelled show. Ironically the characters in the comic at this
time started to look suspiciously like the characters from the TV series.
Since the "Lost in Space" TV series had no real tie-in comic book in the
60's, the Gold Key version has become a kind of defacto tie-in for the
series. While most fans of the TV series dismiss the comic for not
being like the show, smart Lost in Space collectors are beginning to
appreciate the historical connection. It also should be noted, that while
the TV series degenerated into a "campy" children's show, the comic
remained serious throughout its life. We are told that the Lost in Space movie
will follow a more serious path as well. For this reason the value of the Gold Key
comics are likely to increase following the release of the movie in 1998.
Commons, Larry. "The Lost in Space Comics." Centurian Issue 3