My earliest genre influences, – as with many children at the time -– came from television, movies and comics/books. On the TV front, I was born too late to enjoy the runs of Space Patrol, Rocky Jones-Space Ranger, Tom Corbett-Space Cadet and others from the early 1950s. By the time I started watching the glass idol, Westerns seemed the most popular — Have Gun, Will Travel is still a personal favourite — but besides the awesome cartoons of the era we also had Supercar and Fireball XL-5, two Gerry Anderson shows with Science Fiction aspects. Fireball XL-5 still holds a warm place in my heart, as the basic team format works well for the type of action stories I enjoy. My earliest Science Fiction reading started with Tom Corbett, Space Cadet: Standby for Mars! – a book I reread every few years – and the rest of that series, as well as the books in Louis Slobodkin’s The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree series (available at my local library). It wasn’t long before Robert Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel caught my eye, followed sharply by Andre Norton’s Starman’s Son, 2250 A.D. From there, it was the rest of Heinlein’s writings, Norton’s Solar Queen series, TV’s Star Trek, UFO, movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes and Fantastic Voyage and the rest is, well, history (now).
DC comics in the 1960s were chock full of Science Fiction Goodness. It seemed like every other month had Superman and/or Batman dealing with aliens, alternate dimensions and time travel. A lot of it was incredibly wacky, but all of it was fun. Characters like Challengers of the Unknown, Cave Carson, Sea Devils, even World War II veterans The Blackhawks battled alien invaders and solved bizarre, other-dimensional mysteries. Pure. Fun.
While some of the images I create and the stories I write deal with super-heroes and fantasy, the vast majority of what I enjoy building is science fiction. Aliens, monsters, robots and spaceships, all echoes of the first fun I had with Tom Corbett and Fireball XL-5. As much as I enjoy Star Trek and it’s huge ships hundreds of crewman, my preference always drops back to small ships, small crews and the occasional robot crewman (echoing, of course, Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robert the Robot from Fireball XL-5, and even B9 from Lost in Space. Speaking of the original TV series Lost in Space, the unrelated Space Family Robinson comics from that era are still a blast to read!
De terra ad astra!