Friday, March 26, 2010

The White Mountains (Boy's Life, Mar. 1981 - July 1982)

I never was a Boy Scout, and can count the number of times I went camping or fishing on one hand, but as a child, I still read Boy's Life magazine semi-regularly. After all, Boy's Life isn't just for scouts, but for all boys. So says the "O"!

Among the useful tidbits I gleaned from its pages were how to care for and repair audio cassettes (wouldn't want my collection of open-air recorded TV theme songs to get ruined through careless handling and storage, would I?) and how to build a hot-plate from two coffee cans, a rolled up piece of cardboard, and some melted candle wax (and yes, I actually built such a hot-plate, and fried a few burgers on it in the backyard, letting the grease drain right into the lawn. Good times.)

But my favorite part of Boy's Life was the comic book serial adaptation of John Christopher's Tripods trilogy, a series of science fiction books for children, consisting of The White Mountains (1967), The City of Gold and Lead (1968) and The Pool of Fire (1968) (a prequel, When the Tripods Came, was released in 1988).

The table of contents entry for the first installment of the Tripods adaptation. And a story by Robert Newton Peck in the same issue? Score!

Set in a ruined England, in which technology and culture has regressed to something resembling the 18th century after an invasion by aliens, piloting towering, three-legged crafts (not unlike those from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds) has turned the people of earth into compliant serfs via brainwashing "caps" attached to the scalp, the Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of several boys who join a resistance group hidden in the Swiss Alps, to infiltrate and eventually repel the invaders.

The stories were adapted as a series of single page chapters (artist is Frank Bolle), appearing in Boy's Life from May 1981 to August 1986, but never made available or collected in any other format.

Here's the entire* first book, The White Mountains, originally appearing in issues Mar. 1981 through July 1982 (*I'm missing the final chapter UPDATE: July '82 chapter added, thanks to reader Robbio!), where we're introduced to a trio of teenagers, John, Will, and "Beanpole", who must traverse the wilderness and the wreckage of the modern world in search of the legendary white mountains, all the while pursued by ominous tripods.

Click any page to embiggen, or browse complete issues at Google books, here.


kindertrauma said...

Do you still have the instructions for how to build that hotplate? It sounds AWESOME!

-- aunt john

Brother Bill said...

Aunt John:

It WAS awesome!

Get two coffee cans or similar (one slightly smaller that can fit inside the other). Roll up a piece of corrugated cardboard (about as wide as the small can is high) into a coil shape and stick it on its edge inside the little can. Melt enough candle wax to fill the little can up to the top of the cardboard coil and let it cool. This is the "burner" (basically a candle in a can, with the coiled cardboard serving as the wick).

Next, flip the big can upside-down and use a triangle-punch can-opener to make 3 or 4 holes along the bottom edge (vent holes). Set it upside-down over the burner-can (the bottom of the big can is the stove top).

Now just light the cardboard and you're ready to be investigated by the health department.

Incidentally, I also made little steel drums out of coffee cans. If there's one thing that goes good with a freshly grilled burger, its a little Caribbean music to eat it by.

robbio said...

Thanks so much for posting this! It brings back good memories. However, the title of this post states it went until July 1982, but you've only posted until June 1982. Is there a page missing?

Brother Bill said...


Yes... I'm missing the final chapter, which would be July '82... if anyone finds it elsewhere on the web, let me know and I'll add it to the post.


robbio said...

I've managed to locate the missing chapter. I've uploaded it to my blog temporarily for you to go and get so you can add it to this post.

Brother Bill said...

Robbio: Got it, and posted! I love it when a plan comes together. Thanks.

nolt said...

Thanks very much for hosting this up. Brings back memories for sure...

Don Waka said...

You guys have made my year! I actually did my degree exam on this book a few years ago! Thanks!

Tyler said...

I read bits of pieces of the later adaptations from back issues of Boys Life and always wondered how the whole story went. Recently I finally had the thought to dig up a copy of the first novel.

And now I can compare it to the full comic adaptation. Thank you!

Exitof99 said...

Thanks! I was devoted to getting Boy's Life when I was a kid just for this series. It's been 30 years, but I remember these pages like it was yesterday.

Cory Berry said...

Thanks so much for posting these up. I was a huge fan of the series and was really pleased to stumble upon your blog this morning when reminded of The Tripods.

Scot said...

Just this weekend I was telling my girlfriend about this comic adaptation as it was how I was introduced to the books (and thus how she was introduced to them).

I didn't think that I'd ever be able to share these comics with her. I mean, who has a dozen copies of Boys Life from the 80s laying around? I seemed to forget that the Internet saves EVERYTHING (and with much less clutter than your typical garage) and with a single search your blog pops up. Absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much.

TinkersDam said...

I can't thank you enough for posting these! I remember seeing a few snippets long ago, never thought I'd get to read the entire thing.