Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, December 23, 1951

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, December 23, 1951

Click the image to see a larger version.

I must preface this by saying I never expected to see anything like this.

Tom Corbett was a popular science fiction character in the 1950s, inspired by the Heinlein novel Space Cadet. He started out life as Tom Ranger, in an unperformed radio play written by Joseph Greene. His name was changed to Tom Corbett based on input from Heinlein. The comic strip only ran from September 1951 to September 1953, drawn by Ray Bailey, but the character also appeared in comic books, novels, and a TV show. The character, along with the Heinlein novel, popularized the term "space cadet," which I think has fallen out of common usage these days but was a popular phrase for many years.

The stories always have something to do with Tom's adventures with his friends at the Space Academy, and the training that they undergo in order to become members of the Solar Guard. I've been a fan of science fiction and space adventures since I was a kid, and I don't remember many of them, or any of them at all, dealing with any kind of overt religious themes. This is why it was very surprising to me to find this overtly Christmas themed strip among the ones published in the first year of its run. I really enjoy the fact that it not only has a message about peace and goodwill, but also ties the star of Bethlehem to space exploration in keeping with the science fiction themes of the strip.

Merry Christmas, everybody, on whichever world you happen to be.