Swiss Family Crusoe

Jul 1, 2016

At first glance you’d assume that the Gold Key/Western Publishing comic “Space Family Robinson” was based on the TV show “Lost in Space”. Actually it was the other way around. The comic began in 1962. The TV show first appeared three years later in 1965, and had obviously stolen the characters and idea from the comics. (Although I guess both owed a debt to the 1812 novel and 1960 film entitled “The Swiss Family Robinson”.

1967 Annual

In the 1960s “Lady Penelope” comic in the UK featured the adventures of the Robinsons in original to the UK stories using the Gold Key Characters. There were at least two Annuals here published by World Distributors. They featured reprints of the Gold Key strips interspersed with new text and art. Dark Horse Publications have collected all the Gold Key “Space Family Robinson” comics into five (expensive) hardbacks.

1968 Annual

Innovation comics in the early 1990s also produced a couple of dozen “Lost in Space” comics including two annuals. Like the earlier Gold Key comics they sported great painted covers.

Innovation comics lost in space annual

PS: “Robinson” doesn’t sound like a Swiss surname does it? Of course the novel was originally written in German and had the title “Der Schweizerische Robinson”, referring of course to “Robinson Crusoe”. Perhaps a more accurate title for this novel would have been “The Swiss Crusoes”?

PPS: Robinson Crusoe was originally written in 1719, almost 100 years before “The Swiss Family Robinson”. I find it quite amazing that Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” of 1719, and “Moll Flanders” from 1722, are still so readable almost 300 years after they first appeared.

Magnus Robot Fighter

Jul 30, 2008

Growing up in the UK with a plethora of weekly comics I never understood the reason for Dell and Gold Key to issue comics like this that only appeared quarterly. How would you ever remember to pick up the next issue?

I presume “Now only 12 cents” on the covers in 1962 and 1963 refers to the fact that Gold Key had recently taken over a number of titles from Dell Comics who had been charging the outrageous price of 15 cents for their (admittedly advert-free) comics.

Back covers with “pin-ups” were just asking for the comic books to be defaced.

Painted covers always look impressive. The interior artwork by Russ Manning was ok in a neat/sanitised sort of way but the boring layouts of mostly six panels to a page gave Gold Key comics an old-fashioned appearance. I actually preferred the regular back-up strip called “The Aliens”.