January 7: …in the 25th Century A. D.!

Buck RogersOn January 7, 1929, the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. comic strip made its debut. The character of Buck Rogers first appeared in the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan, which was published as part of the August 1928 issue of pulp magazine Amazing Stories. However, it was through the comic strip that Rogers became an icon of early 20th century pop culture.

Buck Rogers’ origin story is a sci-fi take on Rip Van Winkle. Anthony “Buck” Rodgers was a 29 year old veteran of the Great War who was investigating reports of strange phenomena in Pennsylvania coal mines. One day while exploring an abandoned mine, Rogers was caught in a cave-in and was exposed to radioactive gas. Rogers then fell into a state of suspended animation until he woke up in the year 2419. There he uses his military experience to help defend the last remnants of America against villains both human and alien.

The Buck Rogers comic strip was quite popular in its day, and ran for nearly forty years, but the comic strip wasn’t Rogers’ only claim to fame. Buck Rogers was one of the first multimedia stars: Buck Rogers was everywhere. In 1932, Buck Rogers became the star of the first ever science fiction radio program. Later, in 1933 a ten minute Buck Rogers film was presented at the Chicago World’s Fair; and later he was the subject of a 12-part movie serial in 1939. Oh, and let’s not forget all the toys, games, lunchboxes and other merchandise you could buy featuring images of Buck Rogers, his friends and foes.

Although Buck Rogers currently doesn’t have the same cultural cache that he did back in his heyday, the character’s legacy is still very important. The success of Buck Rogers would inspire others to create similar outlandish characters, including near knockoffs (Flash Gordon), superheroes (Superman) and parodies (Daffy Duck as ” Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century”). Not to mention the look of 25th century in Buck Rogers stories influenced the design of science fiction futures up through the Space Race.

The Buck Rogers is a fairly simple cocktail, it’s just an alcoholic version of that childhood favorite, Roy Rogers.

Buck Rogers

  • 2 ounces Whiskey
  • 6 ounces cola
  • 1 dash grenadine

Pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Tomorrow: We celebrate a Space Oddity.

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