The First Manned Space Mission on America's Newsstands

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880, appears to be the first periodical on the national American newsstand to feature a manned space mission — illustrated and in detail.  The quarto-sized illustrated story paper serialized Jules Verne's Round the Moon, the 1870 sequel to the 1865 touchstone From the Earth to the Moon. In 1869, the Newark Daily and Weekly Journal of New Jersey had serialized From the Earth to the Moon in 17 parts.  From the Earth to the Moon and Round the Moon were quickly collected into one volume shortly after the publication of the latter, and are today largely remembered as one work called From the Earth to the Moon.

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880 features Jules Verne's manned space mission.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880 features Jules Verne's manned space mission.

The Issue is a regular column about vintage comics and other vintage periodicals from throughout world history.  The idea behind The Issue is simple:  for each post, I'll choose something from my collection and talk about what's going on in it, and discuss the publishers and creators behind it.  And essentially, I'm just going to end up stepping through comics history one issue at a time. There is only one rule in The Issue: No recent stuff. Everything will be from before 1940, and most of it will be from before 1920.

If you've never read Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and the sequel, Round the Moon, it is must-read science fiction. I glanced over it again as I was thinking about this post, and the accuracy of countless predictions in this text is nearly unbelievable. The story describes and uses a multi-stage projectile and rocket propulsion craft that launched from Florida, makes its journey, and finally, the capsule splashes down in the ocean. They tested the launch with animal subjects. The financing of the massive endeavor is described, as is the planning, and the notion that it would take a decade or two to put together. Jules Verne simply nailed it, in countless ways.

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.

Although Lakeside Library serialized Jules Verne's fictional manned space mission here and featured his other stories. The title certainly published important work, this publication and their publisher is more important for their business endeavors. The Donnelley Bros. came down to Chicago from Canada along with a small wave of other Canadian printers/publishers around this period in the 1870s. Wood pulp was taking over from cotton as the major source for making paper, finally, and of course, they had particular experience and sources. Through a few name changes, this company is currently called RR Donnelley, the largest commercial printer in North America, the printer of Marvel Comics, and many other things. From humble beginnings.

In 1877, Attorney General Charles Devens made the determination that Lakeside Library was a periodical, and thus qualified for bulk rate postage. This opened the floodgates. It's the beginning of 2nd class postage for periodical fiction in this format and similar formats such as comic books over the coming decades.

Many of the dime novel publishers of that era became way more successful than you'd ever imagined. Since featuring Jules Verne's epic manned space mission in 1880 and through a few subsequent business transformations, Donnelley, Loyd & Co. eventually became one of the most successful of all of them.

 

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.

 

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.

 

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.

 

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.

 

Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.
Lakeside Library Vol 3 #66, published by Donnelley, Loyd & Co in 1880.

 

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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