Monday, March 10, 2014

The 1950s

Let's take a closer look at Yeti depictions in the Fifties. This is where it all began, and not just for the Yeti... Popular culture exploded with new formats to express itself. Two-thirds of Americans suddenly owned televisions. A variety of programming, such as children's cartoons, was broadcasted straight into their living rooms. Plus, sci-fi fantasy & horror films (especially of the B movie variety), pulp adventure stories, and comics were all the rage.  The peoples be ready for Yeti.

Real life events inspired Yeti's popularity.  Everything seems to have kicked into gear in 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay saw mysterious footprints while scaling Mount Everest.  In response, the Daily Mail sponsored a 16-week "Snowman Expedition" to look for clues.  With its pulpy interests at the time, the popular culture was primed to welcome with open arms the dangerous, elusive Abominable Snowman lurking in its harsh, exotic setting.  All the news stories describing the search inspired four movies (the most notable being the Hammer film). Then, Oilman/adventurer Tom Slick funded a few missions to investigate reports in 1957, which further nourished Yeti's germination in the zeitgeist.

The Yeti, according to Tibetan eyewitness accounts, had brown fur, big feet, and sometimes a pointy scalp, and most visual depictions in the popular culture match this description.  White fur, however, had started to sprout up.
1952    Tomb of Terror #4: "Glacier Beast" (comic)
1952     Blue Bolt Weird Tales #113 and #115: "The Return of the Ghoul" (comic)
1953     Cave Girl #
11, "Spears of the Snow-Men" (comic)

1954     Ghost Comics #11: "Lords of the Upper Air" (comic)
1954     Astonishing Tales # 36 "The Snowman" (comic)
1954     "The Mystery of Abominable Snowman" (book cover)
1954     Pekka ja Pätkä lumimiehen jäljillä (film)
1954     Snow Creature (film)
1955     Half Human (film)
1956     Man Beast (film)
1956     Uncle Scrooge (comic)
1956    Atlas' World of Fantasy #2 - "It Stands in the Snow" (comic)

1957     Bob Hope (comic)
1958     Felix the Cat (animation)
1958     Tales to Astonish # 13: " I Captured the Abominable Snowman!" by Steve Ditko (comic)
1959     Action Comics Vol 1 255 - Congorila (comic)

One contribution made during this time period is the idea that Yeti is not actually a monster, but a gentle misunderstood creature. TVTropes calls it "The Reluctant Monster" - a trait shared by Frankenstein and Ovid's Medusa.  This trope will be seen again and again in future stories about the Yeti.

On to the Sixties...

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