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Tom Corbett: Space Cadet!

One of my all-time favourite science fiction properties is the kids adventure serial Tom Corbett: Space Cadet. It was like the Hardy Boys … but in space! This little gem ran on radio and early television in the 1950’s, and spawned adaptations in comics, books… and even a marching band album (!?!?!)

I recently stumbled onto a novelization of ‘Tom Corbett and the Space Pirates’ at a local used bookstore, and found myself impulsively sketching scenes as I read along.

In the story, a criminal mastermind steals the ‘universal master key’, a device which allows him to break any safe in the solar system. From a secret base in the asteroid belt, he and his gang of criminals form a pirate band and wreak havoc on the space shipping lanes, eventually threatening the Solar Guard itself.

Captain Strong and his cadets Tom Corbett, Astro, and Roger Manning decide to set a trap, gathering a massive fleet of ships to lay in ambush for the next time the pirates strike.

I also did a bit of brainstorming about what a Solar Guard patrol ship should look like. In the book they’re called ‘Rocket Scouts’ and ‘Rocket Sleds’, so I kept imagining something tiny, like the experimental Lifting Body aircraft NASA built during the 1960’s.

Anyways, the Pirate captain senses something is wrong, and springs the trap! He takes a stripped-down rocket scout and sends it blazing past the spot where our heroes lay in wait, tricking them into revealing themselves and attacking the decoy.

I got really excited about the pirate’s decoy ship: the idea of a souped-up hotrod rocket – little more than a cockpit strapped to an engine – was just too cool not to explore further. I tried expanding on the original, rough drawing of the decoy ship:

Tried adding retractable landing legs to the fins, so it could land on it’s tail like all respectable sci-fi rocketships can:

I love the idea of mixing retro-future sci-fi art with real life space designs; I tried mixing in a little bit of Cold War-era x-plane influence…

A bit of Chuck Yeager’s iconic record-breaking rocketplane, the Glamorous Glennis:

And a bit of Mercury Space Capsule thrown in for good measure:

I did these sketches as part of my Daily Art Challenge on Instagram (I’m drawing something new every day until the end of 2017). I’m sure I’ll be posting more Space Cadet-inspired stuff in the future! Follow me on Instagram @LucasArtGreen to keep up with it all.

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Comments (2)

[…] I guess I just like drawing vintage-style rocketships? […]

You should send your Tom Corbett remake to Nickelodeon, i mean it has all the makings of a action-adventure/sci-fi/fantasy type Nicktoon!

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