Tuesday, November 25, 2014 • Evening Edition • "Putting the yellow back into journalism."

Black History Month Day 12: Tarlton the Astronaut

Written by Greg on Saturday, February 20 2010 and posted in Features
Now aboarding the list... Tarlton of EC Comics


Back in the 1940s-50s, EC Comics was an American publishing comic book that specialized in horror, science fiction, satire, crime and military fiction. They were most notable for having produced Tales From The Crypt. A lot of their stories had a focus on gruesome terror stories, such as reinterpretations of fairy tales as horror tales, sex, drugs, racism among other things that were most likely taboo at the time. Needless to say, EC Comics was a comic ahead of it’s time. One of those comics in this case is the story of Talton, the Astronaut in the controversial strip, “Judgment Day.” Now also know this was the time the Comic Code was presented where censorship within comics started to take hold, causing a huge downfall of mature stories at the time due to complaints of comics corrupting children. Oh joy.

In “Judgment Day,” Tarlton, a representative of the Galactic Republic, visits a planet named Cybrinia where the inhibitors are robots. Tarlton is the only human we see in this story, dressed in an astronaut suit and helmet. The Cyberians are looking forward to become part of the Republican as one of the robots, friendly and orange, happily becomes his tour guide, showing him around a rather pleasing display of the planet. Though issue eventually arises when Tarlton sees a division between orange and blue robots, the latter having less rights and privileges. The orange robots are the privileged, living in a better area, having better jobs, while the blue robots are stuck in a run down town, have to sit at the back of the bus while even having to stand in their own separate space to even get on the bus. All this among more outrages the astronaut as he points out to his robotic tour guide that beyond the different colors, inside they are exactly the same. They are made of the same parts and of the same design. The robot feels distraught over all this and says this is how it’s always been before he was even made and he’s only one robot. While Tarlton agrees that he is only one robot, he informs the robot that Cybrinia has a lot to learn. While he sees potential and hope within the planet, Tarlton concludes that due to the nature of the segregation, the Cyberians were not ready to join the Republican until progress was made, but of course it would have to start somewhere. When Tarlton leaves in his spaceship, he removes his helmet to reveal himself to be a black man.

This story was controversy during it’s release, mostly due to the politics involving Administrator of the Comic Code, Charles Murphy. Upon seeing the comic, Murphy claimed that the black man had to go, they couldn’t print the story with the revelation of the astronaut being black. EC editor, Al Feldstein replied, “But that’s the whole point of the story!” Murphy continued with his stance to remove the black man which lead to more argument between the writers, including William Gaines, the publisher of EC Comics. After Gaines threatened to sue, Murphy replied to at least remove the sweat from his face. Gaines replied with a “Fuck you” before hanging up. While the strip was eventually published uncensored, it would be the last comic published by EC Comics.


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About the Author - Greg


Greg DAE is a Brooklyn born film-maker, writer, actor, and horror/comic fiend. He was one of the first writers of The Outhouse and one of the two original Bludnet writers. One day he’ll be an accomplished comic book writer…. Or else.

 

 

 


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