I know when the Flash Gordon serials were made, there was a tight control over them and every effort was made to make them match as closely as possible to the comic strips that were so popular at the time.

Was this the case when the Buck Rogers serial was made? Did it follow the comic closely, or was it a loose adaptation?

And if you have information on how the 1970s series and how that compared to the originals, I'd be interested in hearing about that as well.

  • From what I remember, the flash gordon serials were only loosely related to the comic books. In the 1930's they simply didn't have the technology to make the beautiful art into believable cinema. – SteveED Feb 24 '12 at 3:52

The Buck Roges serial was more of a rip-off of the much more successful Flash Gordon serial also staring Buster Crabbe.

It was different in that Buck went into suspended animation with Buddy. In the comic Buddy didn't appear until Captain America made nubile young boy side-kicks fashionable.

The series as I recall only lasted a few episodes and focused on Killer Kane. as the bad guy The Mongols were on Saturn I think.

The 1970's TV series was only very loosely based on the original comic. Here are some of the more obvious differences, and some of my thoughts as to the reasons for the changes. Note that I will only reference the first season, since it was the good one.

-Buck Rogers: In the comic he was trapped in a mineshaft filled with mysterious gas, in the series he was a space shuttle pilot blown out of orbit. However in both he was in suspended animation until Wilma Deering found him in the 25th Century.

-Wilma Deering: In the comic she was a resistance fighter and an experienced guerrilla warrior, at least at first. She was a strong-woman archetype who was a probable prototype for many later women. Unlike Flash Gordon, Buck's comic didn't try to put Wilma in sexy gowns at the drop of a quatloo. The series got her mostly right, except for the uniform and the fact she was a fighter pilot.

-Dr Huer: In the comic he was the classic, big-headed, mad scientist working for the good guys. Some of his inventions were wacky, like the food-making-electric-ray, others were far-sighted, like the teleport beam that transported an entire space fleet from Earth to Jupiter. In the series he was a stodgy bureaucrat.

-Bad Guys: In the comic the first bad-guys were the Mongolian Empire, which were badly drawn very racist stereotypes of Chinese (remember this was the 1920s). Killer Kane was a traitor to the USA, and an important antagonist for the first few years of the comic. Ardala was his 'Moll' in the classic gangster style. In the series the Empire changed to the Draconians with sexy Ardala being the main antagonist and Kane a relatively minor supporting character.

-Technology: Well, where do I start? Inertron Jump Belts vs Star Fighters? Repulsor Rays vs Blasters? In the Comic they didn't even get above Earth's atmosphere until the 4th or 5th year.

-Robots and Computers: Sorry, No Twiki or Dr Theopolous in the comic. When robots appeared, they were relatively limited mechanical men. Computers didn't even hit the radar screens until almost the end of the comic run and even then they were the giant-iron HAL prototypes.

-Earth: Yes in both the Earth had been ravaged by a terrible war. In the comic it was between the 'Yellow Menace' (really! they use that term) of the Mongol Empire and the "right thinking Western Society". The Mongols cheated because they stole the inventions of the disintegrator ray and repulsor beam and used it to destroy and dominate the west. In the comic Buck finds the lost kingdom of Atlantis, and a kind of take off of Shangri La in the Himalayas. In the series they were wise to just say "It was a bad war and no one remembers who started it."

-Other worlds: Ultimately Buck encountered Martians (evil cat people who turned into Nazi satires), Jovians (evil dog people), Planet X-ians (WW2 Japanese soldiers who escaped into space and devolved into monkeys. Really!), Asteroidians (miniature people who helped Buck against the Nazi-Martians), And I think Venusians and Neptuninas, but i don't recall exactly what they were. In the series, they went to other star systems and met humans with funny wigs.

  • Ahh yes, That's true, i had forgotten about the novel. – SteveED May 15 '13 at 4:42

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