Black Gate
Robot Columns

Robots in American Popular Culture may be 140,000 words long even without the footnotes, bibliography, and index, but I kept finding bits and pieces about robots and almost robots that didn't quite fit the narrative. Yet they were were so often wonderfully  weird that that I couldn't bear to neglect them. The solution? A column on the wilder and zanier corners of robotdom at the web magazine BlackGate.com. (Back when it was a print magazine, I had a story in issue #2, pictured above.)  I've been producing the column biweekly for going on two years. These pieces are a bit shorter and looser than my robot articles, but just as heavily illustrated. More robot ephemera pops all the time, so I plan to keep the column going as long as possible. Stop back every once in a while to see what's new.

Sidney, the Screwloose Robot, illustrati

Sidney, the Screwloose Robot, was a true pioneer. (Nov. 1, 2017)

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A sexbot in the first issue of Mad magazine? Yes, and then it gets weird. (January 2, 2019)

32. A SMATTERING OF SEXBOTS

Amazing Mystery Funnies #10, June 1939,

An early robot story by the creator of the Human Torch. (Dec. 20, 2017)

5. CARL BURGOS AND AIR-SUB "DX"

1905-01-01 Pittsburgh Press 24 The Balky

Robots will take over baseball. A prediction from 1905! (Jan. 4, 2018)

6. LONDON WINS GREAT GAME

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The very first robot toy and his atomic successor. (Jan. 24, 2018)

7. ROBOT LILLIPUT N.P. 5357

Rube Goldberg promotion cartoon for 1935

How advanced was radio in the 1930s? It had a robot announcer. (Nov. 22, 2017)

3. RUBE GOLDBERG'S RADIO ROBOT

The Silver Eggheads, Ballantine F561, 19

Fritz Leiber's wild satire of the future of writing and publishing. (Feb. 21, 2018)

9. THE SILVER EGGHEADS

The Wild Weird World of Dr. Goldfoot tit

Thought that Dr. Goldfoot and His Bikini Machine was bonkers? Try this half-hour commercial for it. (March 7, 2018)

10. THE WILD WEIRD WORLD OF DR. GOLDFOOT

1937 W.P.A. Federal Music Project The ro

An opera about a robot's love affair, financed by the government. (Nov. 8, 2017)

2. THE ROMANCE OF ROBOT

Axle and Cam on the Planet Meco introduc

A sitcom robot father and son comic, from the pages of Popeye.  (March 21, 2018)

11. AXLE AND CAM ON THE PLANET MECO

Mahlon Blaine, Cowering Nude With Robot

"Cowering Nude with Robot" and other proposed murals from a deeply eccentric artist. (April 4, 2018)

12. THE ROBOTS OF MAHLON BLAINE

Ultron on Avengers cover.JPG

Roy Thomas pulled the look of Ultron from... a Captain Video comic book? (April 18, 2018)

13. THE SECRET ORIGIN OF ULTRON

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The world-wide board game sensation with an all-knowing robot at its center. (May 2, 2018)

14. THE AMAZING MAGIC ROBOT

Baum The Magical Monarch of Mo, and His

L. Frank Baum's first robot, long before Tik-Tok. (May 16, 2018)

15. KING SCOWLEYOW AND HIS CAST-IRON MAN

Servotron Meet Your Mechanical Masters c

Indie band Servotron ignites the robot revolution. (May 30, 2018)

16. SERVOTRON ABOLISHES THE THREE LAWS

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Forties' comics had everything - including matching Nazi robot dinosaur war machines. (June 13, 2018)

17. TWO, COUNT 'EM, TWO NAZI ROBOT T-REXES

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For the first time in 100 years: a lost robot story by H. P. Holt. (June 27, 2018)

18. THE WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF "MR. JONES," THE ELECTRIC MAN

Other Worlds Science Stories, September

How to defeat intelligent robots? Use stupid robots, of course! (July 4, 2018)

19. IF - INTELLIGENT ROBOTS ARE ACHIEVED

Sinclair Oil Dinosaur exhibit color post

The biggest animatronic robot show of all time, indelibly set in the minds of millions. (July 18, 2018)

20. THE BELOVED BATTLING ROBOT DINOSAURS

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The Labor Dept. invented a robot to tell people why it was OK for machines to take jobs during the Depression.  (August 1, 2018)

21. VERNE - THE FIRST FEDERALLY FUNDED ROBOT

Shirley Manson the-world-is-not-enough s

Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson is a double of herself in The World Is Not Enough music video.  (August 15, 2018)

22. SHIRLEY MANSON - KILLER ROBOT

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In the far future our survivors may turn to a robot to learn about our culture.  (August 29, 2018)

23. A ROBOT TO KEEP THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE FROM DYING OUT

1933-03-19 San Francisco Examiner 72 buy

The trials of living with a household robot in an imaginary future as seen from 1933.  (September 12, 2018)

24. WE BUY US A ROBOT

1929-10-22 New York Daily News AFM Robot

Music hath charms, but not when robots play it. (September 26, 2018)

25. A ROBOT HAS NO SOUL

1916-03 Popular Science Monthly 16 John

The first serious attempt at a real, working robot was a dog. But that was a good thing. (October 9, 2018)

26. SELENO, THE ELECTRIC DOG

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Some lucky kids got to watch robots on afternoon children's shows in the 50s and 60s. (October 24, 2018)

27. GYRO, BAZARK, RUFFNIK, AND OOM-A-GOG

Space Conquerors Boy's Life July 1966 pa

They didn't conquer much except the hearts of teen boys in Boy's Life magazine for 20 years. (November 7, 2018)

28. SPACE CONQUERORS!

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Back to the halcyon days when a boy could build a robot in his basement and become a national hero. (November 21, 2018)

29. GISMO THE GREAT

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The American Can Company asked: what is a robot but a series of cans? And rolled out Canco Charlie in 1950. (December 5, 2018)

30. CANCO CHARLIE

Showcase #37, March-April 1962, p7 panel

The loony Metal Men get killed off in their first appearance. But you can just make more, right? (December 19, 2018)

31. ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR METAL MEN

Other Worlds Science Stories, September

Three stories about a Martian super-robot... or maybe a wonderful magazine editor. (Dec. 6, 2017)

4. LITTLE MISS MARTIAN

Boris Artzybasheff brings machine to lif

The brilliant Boris and his wonderful machinalia. (January 16, 2019)

33. ARTZYBASHEFF'S ROBOTS

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British kids in the 60s thrilled to "Space Ace," "Rex from Planet X," and "Rob the Robot". (February 13, 2019)

35. BOOK OF SPACE ADVENTURES

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There was only one place to buy robots in 1938 and it wasn't U.S. Robotics.  (February 27, 2019)

36. MECHANICAL MAN, INC.

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The monster's a robot, the ape's a gorilla, and the fate of the industrial future is in their hands. (March 13, 2019)

37. THE MONSTER AND THE APE

Tilie the Toiler, Large Feature Comics #

Is a robot a better worker than a human? If the human is Tillie, the anser is a definite yes. (March 27, 2019)

38. TILLIE THE TOILER AND ROSIE THE ROBOT

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The clock's a microphone, the table an elevator. Spies? No, an early automated hotel. (April 10, 2019)

39. TELLING A CLOCK WHAT YOU WANT TO EAT

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The Three Stooges as robot superheroes? Not a fever dream, but a real 70s cartoon show. (April 24, 2019)

40. THE ROBONIC STOOGES

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A robot teacher may not cut you any slack, but it's sure handy to have around when the bad guys attack. (May 8, 2019)

41. THE IRON TEACHER

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The same robot in two very different bodies, leading to endless confusion - cleared up here for the first time. (May 22, 2019)

42. TELELUX AND RASTUS

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Superman vs. Metalo, and also Metallo, and another Metallo, and Metallo's brother. Comics! (June 5, 2019)

43. MAN OF STEEL VS. MAN OF METAL

1937-10-17 San Francisco Examiner [Ameri

A peek into the future where robots will be our servants... unless they kill us all. (June 19, 2019)

44. A WHOLE WORLD OF METAL MEN

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The robot mascot of the University of Florida is a baby boomer still wowing them in the 21st century. (July 3, 2019)

45. THE MANY LIVES OF OTTO MATTIX

Arthur C. Clarke, July 20, 2019 robotic

Arthur C. Clarke predicts how futuristic the world would be on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. (July 17, 2019)

46. JULY 20, 2019 - AS SEEN FROM 1986

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A magic house with dilating doors and hidden panels, tended by a vacuum-cleaning robot. (July 31, 2019)

47. AROK THE ROBOT

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The Army wanted cyborgs who could lift 1500 lb. They got one that could twirl a hula hoop. (August  14, 2019)

48. HANDS: YES MAN, HANDYMAN, HARDIMAN

1962-07-24 Allentown [PA] Morning Call 2

Army cyborgs that walk on the Moon or in Vietnam and have the strength of a platoon. (August 28, 2019)

Superworld Comics #1, April 1940 cover.j

Amazingly, Hugo Gernsback also wanted to start the first science fiction comic. (September 11, 2019)

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Science fiction: isn't that that Buck Rogers stuff? Most people said yes, enthusiastically. (September 28, 2019)
 

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