Sunday, January 31, 2010

Trylon and Perisphere

I think about comic books all the time. (Don't you?!) The slightest visual provocation can trigger a recollection of a memorable comic book that I may not have even viewed for decades. I have an example.

I was in the grocery store, in the fruit aisle. I saw the pineapples next to the cantaloupe melons and their juxtaposition made me think of a famous pair of comic book covers. Here, I bought those fruits and took a picture so I could show you.

(Of course the comic book scholars and the New York City historians among you already know where this is going.)

There used to be huge World's Fairs/Expositions held in large cities on an almost-annual basis, starting way back in 1851. The 1893 World's Fair in Chicago is renowned for its introduction of the Ferris Wheel; the 1933 Fair was also held in Chicago; and I remember hearing a great deal back in my youth about Expo '67 which was held in Montreal.

But wait, I skipped an important one! The New York World's Fair was held in New York City in 1939 and 1940, and the visual trademark of this Fair was a side-by-side pairing of a triangular obelisk they called a "trylon" and a large ball-shaped building they called a "perisphere." The trylon was 700 feet tall and the perisphere was 180 feet in diameter, and fair-goers entered and exited these structures. There was even a U.S. postage stamp depicting the trylon and perisphere, and here is an actual photo of them.

What's the comic book connection? For one thing, July 4 1940 was designated as Superman Day at the Fair; a superboy and a supergirl of the day were crowned and the first actor ever to portray Superman appeared in costume (keep in mind that Superman was a new quantity at this time, having first appeared just two years prior in 1938's Action Comics #1). Thanks to Wikipedia for telling me about Superman Day!

But there is a more enduring comic book connection! Of course everybody knows that for many decades the DC Comics series entitled World's Finest Comics featured tales of Superman and Batman. Not as widely recalled is that before World's Finest #1 was released there were two issues of a precursor named New York World's Fair Comics; take a look at the covers of the first issue and the second issue. 1970s reprints of these comic books were my first introduction to the trylon and perisphere. (Or maybe you now refer to them as the pineapple and the melon.)

(Anachronistor's Note: This little chuckle-fest was written NOT on 1/31/2010 nor in 1893 or 1933 or 1939-40 or '67 but on 24 May 2010.)