JETTA OF THE 21ST CENTURYMedium: Comic books
Published by: Standard Comics
First Appeared: 1952
Creator: Dan DeCarlo
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Jetta Raye, protagonist of Jetta of the 21st Century (a comic book that ran its entire three-issue course between late 1952 and the middle of '53), had a lot more in common with The Jetsons than the mere fact of her approximate temporal location. For one thing, she was a very nearly character-for-character clone of a cartoon series about
contemporary life (in The Jetsons' case it was Blondie; in Jetta's, Archie). For another, their settings seemed kind of retro, especially considering they were The Future.
The term "Future", as used here, doesn't mean what it usually does. This was a stylized backdrop found in a lot of mid-'50s stories, which represented an attempt on the part of their creators to masquerade as science fiction. Robots were all over the place, usually in the form of clanky man/machine hybrids that had long since disappeared from the higher grades of sci-fi. Flying cars, TV telephones, skin-tight clothing, personal flying jetpacks — all there, exactly as depicted in the very best pulp magazines. Faux-future expressions like "Now you're cookin' with uranium!" abounded. Another comic book example, tho less old-fashioned about it, was Star Hawkins.
Jetta's life revolved around the denizens of Neutron High School (perhaps named after Jimmy Neutron; perhaps not). Her supporting cast included boyfriend Arky, rival Hilaria, teacher Miss Gorgon, principal Dean Foible — the usual bunch of, to use a phrase from an Archie ancillary title, pals 'n' gals. She was, like Patsy Walker and Candy before her, a female Archie. She even, like Patsy, had red hair.
She even had a connection with Archie through creative personnel. Dan DeCarlo (Homer the Happy Ghost, Sabrina the Teenage Witch), the cartoonist who created Jetta, later developed the house style that was used in Archie Comics' teenage comic books during the last four decades of the 20th century, mainly through his work on the Betty & Veronica title.
Jetta of the 21st Century was published by Standard Comics (Supermouse, Princess Pantha), which only put the name "Jetta" on the cover logo, but did add "Sweetheart of the 21st century" as a blurb across the top of each cover. The first issue was #5, dated December, 1952; and the last was #7, dated April, 1953.
You wouldn't think a three-issue series from a minor publisher would attract much attention a half-century later, but this is a series created by Dan DeCarlo. In 2005, Airwave Publishing (Alan Moore Spells It Out) issued a 64-page reprint volume, containing most of the '50s Jetta material, plus images of Jetta drawn by top contemporary artists. Even a minor series by one of the 20th century's top cartoonists can still attract readers.