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My Favorite Comic Strip (and Futurist) of All Time Is Getting a Documentary

The February 9, 1959 edition of Arthur Radebaugh’s Closer Than We Think Sunday comic strip
The February 9, 1959 edition of Arthur Radebaugh’s Closer Than We Think Sunday comic strip

It’s no secret that my favorite comic strip of all time is Closer Than We Think by Arthur Radebaugh. The strip is largely forgotten today, but it featured the very best of flying cars and jetpacks from the Golden Age of futurism. The pulpy time capsule ran in over 200 newspapers from 1958 until 1963, and ever since I first discovered it roughly a decade ago I’ve been obsessively collecting copies. Now independent filmmaker Brett Ryan Bonowicz is making a documentary about the strip and its eccentric creator, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Illustration for article titled My Favorite Comic Strip (and Futurist) of All Time Is Getting a Documentary

Bonowicz has already conducted a few interviews for the project, including with some famous people like Syd Mead, the production designer on films like Tron and Blade Runner. And he’s also talked with some not so famous people—like me. But Bonowicz is currently self-financing and he needs more money to finish his film.

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“Syd Mead and Arthur Radebaugh have a shared connection in that they both started their careers as car illustrators,” Bonowicz told me. “In making this film, we’ve been able to talk to a broad spectrum of people and they’ve all been fascinated with Radebaugh’s illustrations and we can’t wait for people to see his story come to life.”

You can check out the video preview for the film below and contribute to the documentary over at Indiegogo. I can’t wait to see the finished product. Bonowicz has done so much research on the life of artist Arthur Radebaugh that he clearly knows so much more than me about the man at this point. It should be a fascinating film about an important midcentury futurist.

[Indiegogo]

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Nice. I grew up reading those strips in first run, and I simply took it for granted that I would grow up in the world he pictured. The ‘50s was a time of unbounded optimism; the adults of 1955 were the same guys who had waded ashore at Normandy and Iwo Jima a decade earlier to defeat universal slavery under the Nazis and Imperial Japan. We had gone from fabric-winged biplanes to giant four-engine bombers dropping atom bombs in just a few short years; anything seemed possible. At the time Radebaugh’s predictions seemed like logical extensions of the cars, television and telephones we all had in 1950; they seemed almost inevitable. It was well into the ‘60s before I understood that I probably wouldn’t have a flying car after all.

Some things did come to pass. Our flat-screen TVs and streaming movies are way beyond anything he predicted, as are our smartphones and internet access to practically everything. Now, where the hell is my jetpack... ?