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Archive for the ‘Retro’ Category

How Disneyland Helped to Send Man into Space

disney_mars_and_beyond

Stephen Worth has an interesting article over at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive on how we’ve imagined the future throughout the past century. It includes scans of an article from a 1950 issue of Coronet magazine, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, about a family trip to Venus in the year 2500, along with some clips from the Disneyland TV show’s “Mars and Beyond“. Mars and Beyond was one of three space-themed specials:

It’s impossible to overstate how important the Disney space shows were to the American space program. President Dwight Eisenhower requested a copy of “Man in Space” to screen for his top military officers to convince them that space travel was indeed possible. Six months after “Mars and Beyond” aired, congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which established NASA. The launch of Russia’s Sputnik satellite in October 1957 might have been the immediate impetus for the swift passage of the funding for the program, but the groundwork for the concept behind NASA was laid by Wernher von Braun and Walt Disney.

Clearly, scientists like Wernher von Braun and politicians like Eisenhower and Kennedy were responsible for America’s space program. But it took more than science and funding to put man on the moon. It took will. The awe inspiring imaginary vistas of Chesley Bonestell and the fantastic animation of Ward Kimball and Walt Disney became our collective dreams. The day after “Man in Space” aired, every man, woman and child in America had the same fantasy in their head- the burning desire to go to the moon. The visions created by these artists and filmmakers became reality because they crystallized and energized our collective will.

Animation has the power to mobilize society to do great things.

Mars and Beyond can be found on the Walt Disney Treasures – Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond DVD along with “Man in Space” and “Man and the Moon” as well as, of course, on YouTube:

  1. Man & the Sky
  2. Mars in Pop Culture
  3. History of Life on Earth/Solar System
  4. Mars from Earth
  5. Life on Mars
  6. Travel to Mars

If that’s not enough, here’s some Ward Kimball concept art.

Happy 20th Birthday, Nintendo Game Boy

Nintendo Game Boy

As incredible as it sounds, the Nintendo Game Boy is 20 years old today!

The now iconic hand-held video game console was launched in Japan on 21st April 1989 as the spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Game & Watch line. The console, which went on to sell nearly 119 million units worldwide, was released to the US a few months later in August and to the UK and Europe the following year.

Bundled with it was, of course, a copy of Tetris but it was neither that, nor Super Mario Bros nor any of the big-selling titles that left a lasting impression with me — possibly because it’s one of the few video games I’ve actually completed that honour goes to Final Fantasy Legend.

Final Fantasy Legend was a western port of the Japanese RPG Makai Tōshi Sa·Ga and, despite being made by Square, wasn’t a Final Fantasy game at all, merely re-badged to cash in on the popularity of the Final Fantasy series in the US. It was apparently enhanced and re-released for mobile phones in Japan in 2007 and the series also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Too bad I traded mine in for a copy of Chase HQ… I don’t think I’m ever going to let my 13-year-old self live that down!

Still, at least I kept my copy of Solar Striker and if I ever lose that I’ll always have its theme tune permanently etched into my brain.

Update: Be sure to check out the Game Boy timeline over at Gizmodo.

Space Mountain Retrospective

Space Mountain interior

Here’s a wonderful retrospective of Disneyland’s Space Mountain by Geoff at Your Souvenir Guide.

I wasn’t lucky enough to be anywhere near Anaheim on its opening day in 1977 (nor, for that matter, old enough!) and haven’t had the opportunity to revisit since the 2005 revamp, which saw it return to the original iconic white, but this ride still holds a special place in my heart.

Disneyland’s Space Mountain is “Star Wars” and punk rock and “Saturday Night Fever” and the New York Blackout, all made one single, glorious whole. It’s all about believing, just for a moment, that you are riding the engine at the center of the universe. At that moment, you are ten years old, like me.

I couldn’t have said it better.

I’ll still miss the Dick Dale soundtrack which ran from 1995 to 2003 though!

Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

Gyo Fujikawa's Lets Grow a Garden

Check out this wonderful blog entitled Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves of “vintage children’s books from thrift shops, library sales, book stores, online and elsewhere”. Image from Gyo Fujikawa‘s exquisite Lets Grow a Garden.

Incidentally, if you like Gyo Fujikawa, there’s a ton more images of her work on Flickr.

Ward Jenkins’ B-Boy Show

Ward Jenkins, animator, contributor to Drawn! and curator of the wonderful Ward-O-Matic blog current has a wonderful looking solo show at the Grassy Knoll Gallery in Portland, Oregon inspired by graffiti and 80′s hip hop. This is a little too far for me to travel so I’m grateful that so many photos are available online.

Original artwork can also be purchased directly from the gallery website.

BBC nuclear bomb script released

The National Archives have released a transcript that was to be read by the BBC every two hours in the wake of a nuclear attack in the Cold War between 1973 and 1975.

This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

MGMT’s Electric Feel performed by animatronic animals

The Rock-afire Explosion were an animatronic band comprised of anthropomorphic animals that played in Showbiz Pizza Place restaurants in the USA through the 1980s. After closing down many of these setups found their way to enthusiasts. Here’s one such setup, performing MGMT’s Electric Feel.

Perhaps even more obscurely, a documentary is currently being produced about car-salesman Chris Thrash, a guy who recently purchased the rights to Rock-afire Explosion with an aim to resurrect them and the Showbiz Pizza Place. (via Penny Arcade)

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition cartoons & podcasts

First of all, apologies if you arrived here excited by the pretense of the crappy (yet oddly endearing) 1980s cartoon of the same name. Here’s something very arguably better. Adam Phillips, the guy who created the superb Bitey Castle shorts, has been commissioned to produce a number of brief animated cartoons to promote the new 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

Episode 1: The Beholder (above)
Episode 2: The Gnome and the Teifling
Episode 3: The Mindflayer

He’s working on a fourth as I type.

Meanwhile, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins over at Penny Arcade and Scott Kurtz from PvP have put together a podcast of, essentially, eight hours of them playing Dungeons and Dragons around a microphone. With the wrong people this really could be the dullest thing on earth but it somehow manages to remain entertaining throughout the four half-hour and a bit podcasts they’ve already put out. Stick this link into iTunes or your podcast grabber of choice: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/rsspodcast.xml or, iTunes users, try thismore here, though you’ll need to sign up for a free account to access the pages.

They’re also doing a little strip to accompany each show.

And, oh ok… If you insist.

The Usbourne Book of the Future (1979)

Usbourne Book of the Future

I always love looking at optimistic views of the future from the past… and here’s a good one. The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond, which was originally published in 1979. Chapters include “Robots: Science and medicine”, “Future Cities: Homes and living” and “Star Travel: Transport and travel”. (via Boing Boing)

It reminds me of the old EPCOT attractions from Walt Disney World like Horizons and Spaceship Earth that were also built around that time.

If you like this it’s also worth checking out the Paleofuture blog for all kinds of fantastic retro visions of the future.

Married to the Sea: Logo Turtle

Married to the Sea: Penpals

I love this site. A daily cartoon created from the most random archive illustrations.