Hard Sell


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As early ‘50s TV space operas go, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger was a fairly ambitious program for its era. The program was recorded on film rather than broadcast live, which resulted in higher production standards than such competitors as Captain Video and Tom Corbett Space Cadet.

The show was also accompanied by a strong merchandising campaign, which included a short-lived comic-book series produced by our good friends at Charlton.

Despite such advantages, however, the Rocky Jones program was hindered by off-screen issues and only lasted two seasons. (Scotty Beckett who portrayed Rocky’s sidekick “Winky ,” was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon after being linked to an armed robbery.)

Nowadays, Rocky Jones is primarily remembered for serving as the punchline for a few memorable episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Still, both the show and its spin-off comic are well-done for the time.

The following story, “The Forbidden Frequency,” is especially interesting as it deals with an attempt to force people to purchase unneeded objects through subliminal messages. Not only is the topic sophisticated for a mid-50s comic book, but it is also ironic given the massive merchandising push the TV program received when it debuted.

(At least I hope it’s ironic. After the ‘90s, I’m not sure what that word means anymore …)

Of course, being a space-opera tale the menace quickly veers from malicious advertising to an alien invasion helmed by a buxom alien princess. What would a genre be without its conventions, right?

“The Forbidden Frequency” originally appeared in Space Adventures #16 (Charlton, May 1955). The art is by Ted Galindo and Ray Osrin.

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