Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Number 1794: Spacy Stories Week: A machine to take you under control

This is another in our theme week, Spacy Stories. In this story an alien entity, in the form of a metal box, takes control of human minds. That sounds a lot like the Influencing Machine, made famous in psychiatric circles by Victor Tausk in 1919, in an essay titled “The Influencing Machine in Schizophrenia.” Tausk, described as a disciple of Sigmund Freud, quoted several cases of mental illness where the patient believed he was under the control of a machine. I don’t know who wrote the Space Ace story, but it was probably Gardner Fox, who wrote regularly for Magazine Enterprises. It would not surprise me if Fox wrote it, because Fox was an educated man who had a large reference library to use in his writing.

In some cases, the Influencing Machine was described as projecting images. In the pre-movie era, more like a magic lantern, but to our modern minds sounding like television. Our worst nightmares are realized...the Influencing Machine is real and in everyone’s home.

Where was I? Oh, yeah...there is a comic book story involved. “The Thing in the Box” is a reprint, drawn by Fred Guardineer. It was originally published in ME’s Manhunt #2 (1947) as “The Being in the Box,” and scanned here from its appearance in Space Ace #5, a one-shot comic book from 1952.


7f7f3e2a-4856-11e4-900a-bb8e57f8828f said...

Holey space eggs! Space Ace and the Boy Bombshell are the right kind of cats to save Mars, et al, all reety all righty, Daddy-O! (Or should I, like, say "Pappy-O"?) Dig those space cowboys with the hepcat banter. We got eyes for Myrrl the Gyrrl Bombshell, man. She was, like, totally from Necessary in this plot. And dig those rags she wore —dreamy! You got to love Space Ace and she DID. Thanks for the way-out post, Pap. I loved it.

Daniel [] said...

The Air Loom came quickly to mind as I read your introductory remarks. (Of course, I may have been caused by unnatural means to make that connection.)

It looks as if Guardineer used some swipes for the first and next-to-last images of Myrrl.

Allow me to note that “comprise” is not a synonym of “compose”, and that in 6:6, where the alleged hero said “was comprised of”, he should have just said “comprised” (without the “was” and “of”), or said “was compose of”. Savvy my code?

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Television as an influencing machine, well I think it's a good definition.
There were plans to create a national broadcast system in Nazi Germany, and it actually started in 1935 on experimental basis:

We had a comic strip called "Sturmtruppen" that illustrated the purpose of TV:

The last two strips:
Soldier 1: "Have you ever wondered whether there's a better way to live? Do you ever think about..."
Soldier 2: "THINK? What need have I ?"
Soldier 1: "Ach!... Doktor Goebbels' ultimate weapon strikes again..."

Soldier: "Help, help! I fell in this latrine and I'm in deep shit!"
TV set: "It is GOOD to be in deep shit!"
Soldier: "Oh, Lucky me!. How happy I am to be in deep shit!"
Officer: "Ach! Doktor Goebbels' ultimate weapon is simply DIVINE!"

Obviously, nowadays television propaganda is much more subtler... or not?

Pappy said...

7f7, hepcats in space! Sizzlin' rockets, daddy-o,I dig your jazzy jargon!

Pappy said...

J D, "Since 2006"...yes! That is an anniversary. I started this blog in July, 2006, so who knows? Next summer I may invite you all over for cake.

The use of television as an influencing machine is fully documented. My brother tells people of our upbringing: "We were part of a government experiment, to see if children could be raised entirely by television without any kind of parental involvement." He is only half-joking. We were raised by cowboys and detectives (all with guns blazing), Popeye and Warner Bros cartoons, situation comedies and game shows. In my case add in a steady diet of comic books (my brother was not as interested in reading), and science fiction paperback books. We both grew up fairly well, I think, so I believe we were able to tell fantasy from real life. I have met people who cannot tell the difference, though, so the influencing machine works better on some than others.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I saw a story just this year (on television, the influencing machine) of a man who goes through Wikipedia entries and edits them, replacing "comprised of" with "composed." So far he has done about 30,000 edits. The story influenced me to use "composed" instead of "comprised" when writing.

Ryan Anthony said...

Beautiful, precise art, as always, from Guardineer. It baffles me that someone so good would quit comics when he was only 42 and go to work for the post office, especially considering he lived for another 50 years. He also seems not to have been appreciated enough in his lifetime: despite being there at the beginning, creating two features for Action Comics #1, including the magician Zatara, he only ever received one comics-related award, the 1998 Inkpot at SDCC.

The superb comics historian Ron Goulart described Guardineer's layouts this way: "He seems always to have thought in terms of the entire page, never the individual panel. Each of his pages is a thoughtfully designed whole, giving the impression sometimes that Guardineer is arranging a series of similar snapshots into an attractive overall pattern, a personal design that will both tell the story clearly and be pleasing to the eye...."

Hey, Pappy, for your 10-year anniversary, would you consider making a limited-edition T-shirt just for us loyal followers? I'd be happy to pay for it.

Alicia American said...

OMG they say if u think machines control u that ur physco so their4 TV duznt actully exist Pappity Yay!

Pappy said...

Alicia, if TV doesn't exist, why am I always looking for the remote?