Monday, August 04, 2008
Is it a Mystery Hoard if there is only one item in the hoard?
I found this magazine in the store around the corner, among an assorted batch of old magazines and newspapers. The owner of the store wanted to give it to me, but I eventually talked him up to $2.
This issue of Radio Craft, dated December 1944, was published and edited by Hugo Gernsback, the so-called "godfather of American science fiction." Gernsback was an early fan of radio and a very early adopter of television, as the cover to this issue attests. The Gernsback-penned cover feature outlines "the technique of a remote controlled robot machine gun," designed to address "the desire of all military authorities of the belligerent armies to conserve human life as much as possible" --this in the middle of WWII! The great cover graphic is perhaps one of the first visual representations of a video game precursor (or is it drone warfare?).
This issue also includes several how-to articles written for the radio hobbyist and professional, with special attention given to military issues. There are many wiring and circuit diagrams that confound me.
The best feature of the magazine, from my point of view, are the two radio-themed cartoons by Frank Beaven, a New Yorker and Humorama contributor and sometime writer. Both cartoons manage to ring fairly lame changes on rather trite stock situations from the cartoonists' gag bag. The first cartoon, showcasing the standard offensively racist "captured by African natives" scenario, is delightfully obscure. Adding to the wonder, the gag is credited to Ed Marles of Chilliwack, BC --making this entry eligible for inclusion in the Canadian Comic Fan Project.
The rest of this issue of Radio Craft is filled out with some wonderful Second World War ads with excellent illustrations, like the inside-front-cover ad for the first cell phone that paints a hellish picture of war by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink and stars a Henry-Fonda-type dogface GI barking into one of those great old Motorola walkie-talkies. The second ad, hawking the Echophone EC-1 radio, is a highly-stylized episode in the adventures of Hogarth, the pop-eyed radio nerd and Echophone spokes-cartoon. World War Two was really a golden age!