[Gold Key Comics]

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.

References/Further Reading

Anchors, Bill. "Lost in Space: Space Family Robinson comic checklist." Lost in Space Scrapbook Volume 1 Alpha Control Press: 54-63

Commons, Larry. "The Lost in Space Comics." Centurian Issue 3

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