‘Fiction’ – The French Sci-Fi Mag With A Little Something Different In The 50s

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Fiction N° 1, October 1953

Fiction  N° 1, October 1953

Fiction was a French sci-fi magazine published by popular literature enthusiast Maurice Renault through OPTA publishing. Beginning in 1953, the magazine was initially linked to the American, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This connection ended in 1958 after Alain Dorémieux took the reins as editor for Fiction. Fiction became one of the longest running French sci-fi magazines of the 20th century – published monthly, a total of 412 issues were released before the end in 1990.

One of the things that stood out in the earlier years of Fiction’s publication were the cover images. Quite often, rather than using original artist illustrations, photo-montages were used instead. The first such cover appeared in issue No. 3, February 1954:

Fiction N° 3, February 1954

Fiction N° 3, February 1954

This made for some interesting cover art throughout the late 50s. After Dorémieux took over as editor the cover art changed to the traditional drawing and paint illustration. And a lot of it wasn’t that great, actually. But for a while, Fiction had something really unique. Below are some of the best photo-montage covers from the 1950s.

Fiction N° 7, June 1954

Fiction N° 7, June 1954

Fiction N° 12, November 1954

Fiction N° 12, November 1954

Fiction N° 19, June1955

Fiction N° 19, June1955

Fiction N° 26, January 1956

Fiction N° 26, January 1956

Fiction N° 27, February 1956

Fiction N° 27, February 1956

Friction N° 30, May 1956

Fiction N° 30, May 1956

Fiction N° 31, June 1956

Fiction N° 31, June 1956

Fiction N° 32, July 1956

Fiction N° 32, July 1956

Fiction N° 37, December 1956

Fiction N° 37, December 1956

Fiction N° 39, February 1957

Fiction N° 39, February 1957

Fiction N° 40, March 1957

Fiction N° 40, March 1957

Fiction N° 47, October 1957

Fiction N° 47, October 1957

Personal opinion: It wouldn’t be until 1972 that Fiction’s cover art would stand out again. The issue below was perhaps the start on the road to recovery.

Fiction N° 221, May 1972

Fiction N° 221, May 1972

(Sources: nooSFere, BDFI Forums, and Kerro Panille on Facebook)

Could This Be The Holy Grail Of Sci-fi Animation Film Posters? – ‘A Trip To The Moon’ 1914

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A Trip To Mars Movie Poster - Lubin 1914

A Trip To Mars Movie Poster – Lubin Manufacturing Company, 1914

This poster would be an eye-catcher even without knowing anything about it. The illustration and graphic design just pop – it’s curious and fun, not unlike a lot of circus posters of the time that were designed to project those very elements. Unfortunately the artist is unknown – to collectors the poster is not. This might well be the Holy Grail of animated film posters. Invaluable, the world’s largest online auction marketplace, has listed this A Trip To Mars poster to go on auction on January 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EST. The auction house hosting the sale, Poster Auctions International, Inc., list the estimated price of this gem as $225,000 – $275,000.

This is their description:

Siegmund Lubin, a Polish Jew who came to this country in the 1870s, founded The Lubin Manufacturing Company, one of the earliest film production firms (later becoming The Betzwood Film Co.), in Philadelphia, and by 1912 was head of America’s first movie empire. He was known as “The King of the Movies,” becoming America’s first cinema mogul.

In 1902, Georges Méliès created A Trip to the Moon based on Jules Verne’s classic novel. It was the first movie to achieve worldwide fame. Lubin and other iconic contemporaries such as Thomas Edison were cited for rampantly pirating the film. Méliès sent his brother to the United States to stop it, establishing many of the copyright laws that still stand today. However, Lubin decided that he wasn’t going to be stopped, figuring out an innovative way to avoid paying royalties to Méliès: he created one of the earliest fully animated films ever produced, an American version of A Trip to the Moon, in 1914.

Animated films were extraordinarily unusual for the time. This production opened to the public six months prior to the release of WIndsor (sic) McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur, which is often (incorrectly) cited as the beginning of movie animation. This, in fact, is the earliest film poster to ever surface representing a significant title in animation. And this is the only known specimen of it.

The design of this poster is noteworthy for its futuristic boldness and graphic clarity. There is no known surviving poster for the Méliès original film (and most probably none were produced). This is the only representation of the famous title, and one of the earliest science fiction artifacts ever discovered. Lubin went all out in this poster. He sensed that the sheer novelty of this animated film (crude and short as it was) would be worth a special marketing effort, therefore this spectacular poster. The A.B.C. company, which handled all of Lubin’s posters, gets design credit. It is doubtful that Vincent Whitman, the animator of the cartoon, had anything to do with the poster. The famed Otis plant in Cleveland (Otis Litho Co., Cleveland, OH – ed.) handled the stone lithographic work with precision.

So there you have it – a truly one-of-a-kind piece of American film history. It will be interesting to see if this rarity sells and by how much. The starting bid is $220,000. Imagine how great it would be to have an extra quarter-of-a-million dollars to spend on a fantastic little item like this.

A Trip Into Space With Ace Brave!

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Into Space With Ace Brave - Pop-Up book cover illustration by Ron Turner. 1953

Into Space With Ace Brave – Pop-Up book cover illustration by Ron Turner, 1953

Control deck of space ship 'Asteroid'

Control deck of space ship Asteroid

This is the command deck of space ship ‘Asteroid‘ – and YOU are the captain, seated in the center there in front of your impressive array of instruments. I am speaking to you over your personal contact tele-viewer, and you can see my ship ‘The Starider‘ on your forward tele-view. We are midway between Earth and the Moon and we are bound for Mars where we are to meet the deep-space ship, ‘The Aspirant.’

On our journey I’ll share some adventures I’ve had and some things we’ve met, but first let’s review some of the equipment we use in space. Let’s go!

An important piece of equipment we use in space - The Space Suit

An important piece of equipment we use in space – The Space Suit

The Weapons Of Space

The Weapons Of Space

A. The Hydramatic Mark 4 Flame Gun which uses a light hydro-ammonal compound – its lethal range in space is 2000 yards.

B. The Atomatic which fires .20-caliber atomic bullets – the burst from these atomic guns produce spectacular results.

C. The Radiumatic which works on the controlled-fission principle produces a concentrated radiation beam. The Radiumatic is proportionality more effective than weapons A and B and can be converted into an ideal weapon for ground use.

Peril in the Venusian jungle - A rescue operation results in the disintegration of a Terrathon and a safe return of fellow traveler, Professor Devonport.

Peril in the Venusian jungle – A rescue operation results in the disintegration of a Terrathon and a safe return of fellow traveler, Professor Devonport.

Life On Mercury

Life On Mercury

Humans and the Mercurians have become firm friends since the first meeting nine years ago. The Mercurians are referred to as ‘The Iron Men‘ as the outer skin of these strange chaps is a thick tissue with a metallic base, protection against the intense heat.

The canopy and cape worn by the Mercurian on the right are used by them when Mercury makes its nearest approach to the sun, when even they need some extra protection.

Venus

Venus

The Venusians are an advanced lot. As the ship descended to the planet it was frozen into immobility. A grating metallic voice came over the intercom, ‘Hello men of Earth. Follow me and no harm will come to you. Do as I command!’

Guided to the domed city of Metharon, a meeting was arranged with the elected overlord of Venus, The Imperator. The Imperator disclosed that the Venusians knew all about Earth, had in fact visited in the past, and now monitored Earth’s broadcasts. ‘Go Back to Earth,’ he said, ‘and tell them that whenever they come in peace we shall welcome them but, at the first sign of hostility they will be destroyed, utterly!’

Since then, the Venusians have been treated with the respect they merit.

Crash Landing - Accidents happen. This particular emergency landing occurred on Mars. The rescue team that rushed to the crash site came from the take-off point bringing with them a pressurized hospital tank that saved a life.

Crash Landing – Accidents happen. This particular emergency landing occurred on Mars. The rescue team that rushed to the crash site came from the take-off point bringing with them a pressurized hospital tank that saved a life.

Mars is inhabited by these formidable creatures. They communicate telepathically. The first meeting with them was tense but they are now good friends. They refer to their planet as Alkmenos.

Mission Accomplished

And there is The Aspirant. She’s surrounded by space-suited men and two transport ships are bringing in last-minute supplies. The Aspirant will be the ship used for ‘Operation Deep Space’ – an exploration of the outer planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Much of the credit for the design of The Aspirant should go to the Venusians and Martians. They provided important component designs that helped make the ship into what it is.

Now that the supplies from The Asteroid have been loaded into The Aspirant it’s time to return to Earth. In twenty-four hours The Aspirant will blast off into deep space. One day we’ll be back to tell you — what lies beyond!

SPACE PATROL

SPACE PATROL

Passing the moon on the return to Earth a sinister shape is seen streaking toward the ship – a space pirate! A message is radioed to the moon-based Space Patrol. Furious activity and almost at once, the ships are blasting off the launching ramps. The Asteroid holds the pirates off long enough – here come the Space Patrol!

The End...?

The End…?

Images via The Ron Turner Collection

A Tale Of Sad Martian Children, A Loving Dad, And A Jolly King Elf

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Santa Claus Conquers The Martians - Dell Comics 1966Yes, something is the matter with the children on Mars.

Matian Sleep Spray Technology

*Check out the Martian Sleep Spray technology.

There is only one thing KMAR can possibly do…

Get Him, TORS!

You’ll have to tune in to Captain Video’s Secret Sanctum to read all about it: click here.

(h/t to Tim O’Brien at Pop Culture: 1964 for the absolutely divine inspiration)

The New Adam

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The New Adam - Artist: Jeffrey Jones

The New Adam – Artist: Jeffrey Jones

The original cover art for the 1969 Avon Books publication of Stanley G. Weinbaum’s science fiction novel, The New Adam. First published in 1939 (Chicago: Ziff-Davis) the novel tells the story of Edmund Hall – a superman who was born ‘a rung higher on the ladder of evolution than the men around him.’

Image Source: Nemojp Dante