Friday, July 12, 2013

Character-a-Day: King of the Rocket Men

Today's drawing is Rocket Man, the titular hero of the 1949 Republic serial King of the Rocket Men (he wasn't really a king, as he was the only rocket man, it was just a title gimmick that Republic used at the time for a variety of its titles).  You may not be as familiar with this one as some of the others, so I'll give you the quick skinny: Jeff King was a good guy played by an actor who looks more in line with the stock bad guys of the era (big, swarthy, pencil-thin mustache, craggy features), which is kind of a nice departure from the generic doughy hero face that a lot of the serial leads had at the time.  A scientist (King's a scientist, too... everybody in this thing is a scientist) gave him a rocket pack and helmet to fight another scientist.  I watched this one because of its purported influence on The Rocketeer, and while overall it didn't knock my socks off there are a lot of cool elements to it, the best of which is the casting of the hero.  I'd kind of like to see this one revisited and playing up the fact that the hero is so against type, and maybe play him a little older, too.  Craggy scientist in his late 40s fighting an evil mastermind by wearing an impractical helmet?  There's some gold there.

An influence on Dave Stephen's pulp hero THE ROCKETEER, Rocket Man also featured in RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON and ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE

The original art for this one is available for sale.  8.5x11," ink on 80# stock, shipped the Tuesday after purchase.  First come, first serve.

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