24 June 2013

The Mystery of the Red Spacemobile

          Gold Key Comic's SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON ran for most of the 1960s and 70s, sometime with varying subtitles. As a kid  I followed it for the first half of it's run and something bothered me for years: The color of the spacemobiles changed  from white (silver) to dark red for several issues. Now the family's space suits changed in almost every issue, but I figured they just had a large closet. But. repainting the space mobiles didn't make much sense, especially so odd a color, when all other space hardware seemed to be silver or chrome.
    Much later I learned of Western Publishing's normal method of work flow, in which the artist, inker and colorist might be located on different continents. This caused a few errors to arise, such as Magnus, Robot Fighter's boots switching from black to white a few times.
   Anyhow, my geeking mind wondered what had caused this error, and I think I can speculate a good guess:
(all artwork by Dan Spiegle, all cover paintings by George Wilson)

In issue #1, December 1962, the spacemobiles are white, with blue hightlights , comic book shorthand for silver.

Issue 2, again silver.

Issue 3...SUDDENLY RED!!
Issue 4, red again
Issue 5, red

once more red in issue 6

Issue 7

Issue 8, back to silver

The spacemobiles remained silver for the rest of the run, gaining tinted windows in issue 11

It is my theory that the colorist was getting their color cues from Wilson's painted covers: The spacemobiles turned red after WIlson's cover for #2:

I think that the spacemobile is meant to be silver, the red comes form either friction heat or reflection of the surrounding sky. Starting with the next issue, the spacemobiles are this color...

...until issue 8 , the next time the silver spacemobile is shown on the cover.

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