Saturday, February 19, 2011

Science Fiction Theater: "Who Goes There?" by Campbell, Drake, and Abel

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Anyone remember when Western Publishing published four issues of an oddball comic called Starstream under their Whitman umbrella? The year was 1976, and sci-fi was getting hot again thanks to the network TV debut of 2001: A Space Odyssey, new flicks like Logan's Run and Star Wars, and TV shows like Space: 1999. Someone thought the time was right to pick up where Marvel had left off with Worlds Unknown and Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction and produce comicbook adaptations of classic sci-fi prose tales.

Starstream was a strange duck as it was a thick, square-bound anthology with cardstock covers. It sold for seventy-nine cents and could be found in most department stores racked with coloring books back in the toy department. (At least that's where you found 'em in Young Groove's neck of the woods.) It didn't have the "zing" of Marvel's previous offerings (you knew it was the same guys who did mags like Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff, and Ripley's Believe It or Not behind it), but boy, editor Roger Elwood had good taste in material. The first issue alone featured strips adapting Joan Hunter Holly, Raymond Banks, Howard Goldsmith, and the great John W. Campbell--the focus of today's post.

Campbell, often credited as the man behind the Golden Age of Science Fiction thanks to his legendary and lengthy run as editor of Astounding (which later morphed into Analog--and is still going strong). He also wrote the classic "Who Goes There?" in the late 1930s, considered one of the all-time greatest sci-fi stories. You probably know the story better as The Thing, since that was what the cult-fave movie adaptations were called. Well, here's that ground-breaking sci-fi shocker in its four-color debut from Starstream #1. Adapted by veterans Arnold Drake and Jack Abel..."Who Goes There?"


  1. Somehow I missed "Starstream" when it came out 35 years ago (!). From what I see at GCD, it looks like an very interesting series. Feel free to post other stories if you desire! :-)

  2. For what it's worthm, 2001 actually debuted on NBC in February 1977, not 1976. You can watch a promo here:

    I remember because I was actually writing a term paper on the film at the time.

    Of course, Star Wars also debuted in 1977 (May), not 1976.

  3. Yup. Read this when it first came out - I think my Dad bought me a copy when I was five years old. The panel of the "lead dog" turning into a mushy, goopy mess always horrified me. And I remember seeing "The Thing" and being disappointed that the monster wasn't a green, stringy-haired, googly-eyed freak!

    That Arnold Drake was really something. His "Flesh Eaters" is still one of my all-time fave 1960s creature features. What an era we live in, when I can watch a prostine "Flesh Eaters" DVD and call up Starstream #1 on your website! Thanks!

  4. Groove, This is All Kinds of AWESOME! I love 'The Thing!' Now thanks to you, I know its Secret Origin!

    Charnauk is toast!

  5. Wow, doc... I had all 4 of these back in the day!

    I know they came out before STAR WARS [in 1976] but I got them used a while after in about '78 [I was all of 14 years old at the time.]

    I really liked the books... they introduced me to true science fiction [and to writers like Ben Bova, Jack Williamson, and Robert Bloch]... great, under-valued mini-series.

    I also remember my favorite story from the whole run: "BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, MARTIAN," which I think was an Arnold Drake original. I used to read it over and over.

  6. Just a quick comment about Jack Abel. He wa a very underrated Inker. I think he was amazing.

    He did fantastic work over Gene Colan on Iron Man and I thought he was perfect over Gulacy on Master of Kung Fu.

  7. I think these were collected in some sort of compendium, because I have this, along with "Benjamin Franklin, Martian" and perhaps a dozen other stories.

  8. Took me a while to find it, but they were all compiled together as Questar:

    1. Omg I've been hunting this book for years, I am eternally grateful.

  9. I'm 50 and still have my complete set I bought new back in '76 at the age of 13. I've seen some not-so-good reviews of them, but I loved them (still pull all 4 out and read them once or twice a decade).

  10. I still have all four of those. They were great!



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