Members of SPLAT have had fun debating where Frank Wheeler got the inspiration for his Lunar Base transfer sheet spacecraft figures, & I finally located the 'Starship Enterprise' image in "Tales of Suspense" No.4, from July 1959. It's in the story "The Voice of Doom!", & the art is by Carl Burgos. Being an Atlas (later to become Marvel) comic, this would have been reprinted in black-&-white by Alan Class in the UK in the early 60s — just in time. Frank may well have picked up the reprint comic at a newsagent in the interests of research.
The front cover shown here is by Jack Kirby.
Well, that's probably one accounted for; as it happens, we can knock down practically all the rest with one blow:
This lovely twenty-page Free Gift booklet came with issue No.116 of Lion comic, week ending May 8th, 1954.
Practically every spaceship appearing on the Lunar Base Panorama transfer sheets — other than the one above, & Flash Gordon's Rocket Ship — featured in this booklet. You can have fun ticking them off…
"The illustrations on pages 10-15 and on page 17 are taken from the book, 'Man on the Moon', published by Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd. The illustrations on pages 3-9 and on page 16 are reproduced by permission of 'Collier's Magazine'."
Page 18 is taken from Arthur C Clarke's "The Exploration of Space" (Temple Press).
Of course, many of the designs were originated by Wernher von Braun, & those were pretty much ubiquitous.
We don't know for sure if Frank saw the 'Tales of Suspense' spaceship (although that seems pretty strong circumstantial evidence) or the Lion 'Wonders of Space Travel', but at the time these images were everywhere; I remember many of them from children's books of the period, not least the perfidious "You Will Go to the Moon" whose promise has yet to be kept!*
*: Beginner Books ("I Can Read It All By Myself"), 1959. Their logo was Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives
© Tom Vinelott 2023