Thursday, November 6, 2014

Flying Saucers In Time

Finding depictions of "flying saucers" from before late June, 1947 is an ongoing process, that has been slowly accumulating, as researchers have backtracked through the various possible areas of influence prior to Kenneth Arnold's sighting. It's not that there weren't lots of spaceships all over popular culture during the 1930's and 40's, but it was mostly craft of rocket-shaped design that appeared in the early sci-fi pulps, comics and serials. Nevertheless there are quite a few examples of saucers to be found, even prior to those outlets - just take a look at the gallery over at UFOPOP. Stories about saucer-shaped time machines, on the other hand, are a bit more rare - but recently I found precisely such a tale in an Canadian comic from 1945.

Terry Kane Battles The Thief Of Time in Three Aces, Vol.2 issue 4 (1945)
The above mentioned story was featured in Three Aces Comics from March 1945, and is about a time travelling thief who may actually have been the inspiration for (Lee &) Kirby's Marvel character, Kang. There are many similarities, even in attitude, only this guy is far less exotic. The "Thief" uses a saucer-like craft, which he refers to as his "Time Car", to travel back in time and steal treasures from different periods in earth's history - until he meets Terry Kane, the hero who of course puts an end to all of that. But first we are presented with many a great panel of drawings in a style that, in my opinion, was even further ahead of it's time than the subject matter. I had to double check the date and year to be sure, but it's printed right there on the last page of the story: March 1945.

In some of the drawings the Time Car looks more like an actual car, but when the interior is shown it becomes clear that it is at least oval-shaped. A few other panels show it to be even more saucer-esque.

The idea of saucers as time machines made me think of the 1980 BBC TV play The Flipside of Dominick Hide, about a man who becomes addicted to time travelling in his flying saucer and ends up changing history (although possessing more benevolent motives than our Thief of Time). I don't think there was any inspiration from the Terry Kane story in there, though, but of course you never know.

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