In August 1928, Philip Francis Nowlan published a short story called "Armageddon 2419 A.D." in the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. Six months later, in March of 1929, he published a sequel, "The Airlords of Han". The hero of both of these novellas was a man named Anthony Rogers. The tale told in this pair of stories begins with Rogers being overcome by a mysterious gas while inspecting a mine. The gas puts him into a coma from which he does not awake until five hundred years later. He finds himself in a world of advanced technology and amazing adventure.
The popularity of the two stories caught the attention of John F. Dille. Dille teamed up the author, Philip Nowlan, with cartoonist Richard 'Dick' Calkins within the syndication framework of the the John F. Dille Company to continue the tale in graphic form as a newspaper cartoon series for a mass audience.
It was in connection with the organization of this team effort that the name of the hero was changed from "Anthony Rogers" to the snappier, "Buck Rogers".
Nowlan's, Dille's and Calkin's efforts combined to produce what was to become an important part of American pop culture. The comic strip itself ran for 38 years. In addition to this long-running comic strip, Buck Rogers was popularized in books, a television serial and a computer game. The Buck Rogers theme gave rise to emulations such as Flash Gordon and other swashbuckling space heros.
In Worcester, Massachusetts, the Buck Rogers comic strip series was carried by the Worcester Evening Gazette, appearing six days a week - Monday to Saturday. These Buck Rogers comic strips were collected by Roland N. Anderson (1916-1982) while working as a paperboy. He was able to assemble an almost complete collection of the series from its start in the Evening Gazette on February 4, 1929 until March 25, 1933. During this more than four year period 1302 daily strips were created by the Dille Company and Roland missed getting hold of only four of the strips published in the Evening Gazette - numbers 100, 1033, 1052 and 1129. Publication in the Evening Gazette, however, had began exactly four weeks after the official start of the series on January 7, 1929, so the series in the Evening Gazette was continuously behind other newspapers. In an effort to catch up a bit, the Evening Gazette skipped strips 667 to 672, publishing strip 666 on Saturday, March 21, 1931 and then strip 673 on Monday, March 23, 1931. Additionally, the Evening Gazette wasn't published on the Fourth of July national holidays and the Gazette skipped strips scheduled to be published on those dates to avoid falling further behind. Occasionally, when Roland was unable to obtain a certain strip, the night editorial staff helped him, providing the missing strip either from some reserve or the strip as published in the Boston Herald. This was the case on July 4, 1931 as the strip included here originated from that source. The strips from the Boston Herald can be identified by the deviant type in the titling. Titles were set locally at the newspapers, only the images were provided by the Dille Company.
All in all, the strips that Roland was unable to obtain, together with unpublished strips, totaled 14 missing strips - 100, 130, 667-672, 731, 1033, 1046, 1052, 1075 and 1129. To fill these gaps, images of these 14 strips were obtained from gray-scale archival film sources, reduced to black-and-white and then artificially colored to provide the same visual impression as the scanned images.
The narrational structure of the Buck Rogers comic strips is much like that of a soap opera - a series of adventures of varying lengths with short transitions between each adventure. Centered below is a synopsis of the Buck Rogers series. Each sentence describes some escapade in the series. By clicking on a sentence a reader is carried to that daily strip where that adventure begins. Each comic strip has a number written somewhere in the lower right hand corner of each strip. Some browsers will also display these numbers in the lower left hand corner of the window frame. If someone quits reading some segment of the Buck Rogers narration before having read it all and then at some later date wishes to return to where he left off, this can be done by entering the number of that particular comic strip here.Because of the large number of images, this presentation is written in such a way that any links must be made to this page and not to individual images. It is possible to navigate directly from this page to any image.
Twelve-year-old boys of all ages, looking for nifty rocket ships, can find some of them on strips 102, 175, 316, 368, 452, 584, 588, 613, 620, 747, 756, 762, 772, 930, 946, 970, 979, 1007, 1021, 1024, 1150, 1233, 1241, 1253, 1261 and 1268.
This material is presented here solely for educational purposes and to help maintain a continued interest in the Buck Rogers phenomenon and the people behind it.
In 2009, high-quality reproductions of the Buck Rogers comic strips were published in easy-to-read book form by Hermes Press. The series is presented in several hard-bound volumes entitled, "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century". The Hermes Press presentation is more extensive than this collection.