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A Close Up of the “Closer Than We Think” by Arthur Radebaugh

“Closer Than We Think” was a weekly article published by Arthur Radebaugh. He was an illustrator as well as futurist, who amazed people with this Sunday publication from 1958 to 1962. At first, in Detroit, he used to work as a commercial illustrator. There he started to experiment on things like imagery, fantastical skyscrapers and futuristic, streamlined cars. Later, he delineated them as, “halfway between science fiction and designs for modern living”.

A downward track was followed by his career around the mid 1950 when photography usurped the field of illustration in the world of advertisement. But he found a new way of channeling his work and started to illustrate a syndicated Sunday comic strip, “Closer Than We Think.” This comic episode came up 12thJanuary 1958, few months after the launching of Sputnik with the portrayal of “Satellite Space Station” by Soviet Union.

With every week, he attracted handsome amount of readers. He illustrated how human life and daily routine will be affected by futuristic technology. Arthur Radebaugh depicted mailmen performing their duty and rounds on jet packs, push button desks are present in schools, warehouses have robots working for them etc.

It gained around 19 million readers and kept on coming for five years. It was published across Canada and United States of America. In 1974, Arthur Radebaugh died in a veteran’s hospital, and so did his work. It was overshadowed by the glimpses of The Jetsons” and “Tommorowland” of Walt Disney. It was not until two decades after his death when Todd Kimmell, who was the director of Lost Highway Archives and Research Library, got the portfolio of Arthur Radebaugh, which was thrown in the collection of retired illustrators, and restored his amazing work.

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