|Our first glimpse of the poster|
The story involves an Indian family, a murderous doctor and a locked room killing. The usual fare for a weekday afternoon. At one point we catch a glimpse of a science fiction poster on the wall of the young Indian boy who is always seen reading 'those dreadful comics". Something about it caught my attention, I remember thinking to myself, "I know that picture", but where from?
|And now in focus|
The poster now appears to be for a movie, "Monsters From Mars" and the whole thing has been reversed, forming a mirror image of the original cover. The terrified couple, facing out towards the viewer on the magazine cover, are replaced by a slightly unconvincing man with his back to us.
The poster is nothing to do with the story, other than establishing that the kid had an interest in space stories. In the end the plot revolves around a 'Chinese Lantern' that is advertised in the back of the some of the comics in the room which Father Brown is seen reading eagerly at one point.
There is, perhaps, a minor point being made about the moral panic that surrounded comics in the fifties, but overall this is yet another mild-mannered murder mystery totally suitable for watching with afternoon tea and a few nice scones.
|The Freas/Romita collaboration|
The colour comic failed and the Black and White magazine must have been seen as a rival to the Warren comics which had begun to feature a little more science fiction.
The first issue contained only a little new material. A framing sequence based on Bob Shaw's 'Slow Glass' and the first part of two episode adaptation of "Day of the Triffids", probably intended for the cancelled colour comic, were all there was.
The reprints, however, were something special. Taken from Fanzines and small print-run alternative comics were stories by Neal Adams, Frank Brunner and Al Williamson along with an early work by Mike Kaluta.
|Admission of the changes from issue 3|
He painted the insignia for Skylab, portraits of more than 500 saints for the Franciscans and the cover of Queen's album News of the World. He was the winner of eleven Hugo awards, the science fiction equivalent of the Oscar, as best science fiction artist and yet when he handed in his cover for Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction issue one Marvel felt they had to change it.
The version published is credited to Frank Kelly Freas and John Romita and it is obvious that the couple cowering behind the wall as the freakish, and heavily armed, aliens approach have been added by Romita. The team admitted as much in issue three when they published a look at the original version. Perhaps the girl's mini-skirt was deemed too racy, but personally I think the style of the humans was simply too different from the Marvel style of art.
|The 1979 Aussie Version|
I find it fascinating that this cover was selected by art directors for different purposes over a space of almost fifty years and changed, twice. First by Marvel comics, when the human characters were judged inappropriate in some way, and then by the art department on the Father Brown TV show.
Some of the modern changes were totally necessary, the seventies garb of the replacement figures would have been out of place on the wall of a fifties school-boy. But I'm not quite sure why the image was flipped as if in a mirror.
It is interesting that all the way through the weird, frightening aliens that were a feature of Frank Kelly Freas' work remained unchanged. Funny thought, I didn't see his name on the credits.
More details of the Australian version of Unknown Worlds can be found on Daniel Best's excellent blog, 20th Century Danny Boy
And in a case of great minds thinking alike, I discover that John Freeman has already covered the same story in his excellent Down the Tubes web-site, the most comprehensive web-site on British comics.