Jeremy Banx shares his childhood fascination with space
The first inkling I ever had that there were worlds beyond our own was in the early sixties with Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Fireball XL5 on TV. I would have been around 3 or 4 years old. Although I understood that Fireball XL5 was a work of fiction and Colonel Steve Zodiac was a puppet, my young mind assumed the show must be based more on fact than was obviously the case.
So I had no problem believing in aliens, interplanetary space travel and astronauts floating in Space without Space helmets.
For this reason I was initially a bit disappointed by the real manned Space programmes of the time. Great as they were, the Vostocks and the Mercurys just didn't have the allure of their TV puppet rivals. There was always something missing. Frankly, if Yuri Gagarin and Alan Sheppard had made contact with extra terrestrials hell bent on world domination, I would have found it all a lot more believable.
But that all changed with Apollo.
I still have the scrapbooks I filled to bulging point with clippings of spaceships and astronauts. I read voraciously everything I could about Space in books, newspapers and magazines. I pestered my dad to fill up his car from a chain of petrol stations that were giving away free spaceflight coins, and I dutifully built model kits of Vostock, Soyuz, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft.
At around this time Stanley Kubrick's ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ came out, which I was lucky enough to see in Cinerama. Amazed by the special effects and the story that I didn't quite understand; I'm not sure I did distinguish it from fact. Part of me still sees it as a documentary of a future that has sadly yet to pass.
During this time there was a brief flirtation with believing in UFOs but the less said about that the better.
The moon landing itself was of course the high point of my life up until that moment. And, with hindsight, it’s probably been downhill from there.
Jeremy Banks (Banx) is a professional freelance cartoonist. His gags have been published in Punch, Private Eye, London Evening Standard, Daily Express, Mail on Sunday, and he has been the pocket cartoonist for the Financial Times since 1989. www.banxcartoons.co.uk
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