Land of the Giants

00 Valerie & Steve

This couple are named Steve Burton and Valerie Scott, though in reality they are the actors Gary Conway and Deanna Lund. He’s the pilot of a space passenger ship; she’s an idle, jet-setting socialite. When Burton’s ship passed through a freak storm, they found themselves, along with the rest of the crew and passengers, marooned on another world – a planet of giants!

Irwin Allen’s fantasy series Land of the Giants premiered on ABC Television on September 22, 1968, and was to a large extent a vehicle for some then-spectacular special effects.

01 Valerie

Valerie was actually included as something of an afterthought. As Land of the Giants was first envisaged, the two female regulars were the sensible stewardess and an intellectual blue-stocking. Then somebody decided the series needed a little more glamor, so the blue-stocking was retired and Deanna Lund was recruited in her place. To show how effectively she fulfilled the remit, here she is with some of her other co-stars.

02 Valerie & Mark03 Valerie & Fitzhugh04 Valerie & Betty05 Valerie & Chipper

Yes, it’s the obligatory cute furry animal!

Valerie brought one thing to the dynamic that was not fully appreciated until 1969, when one of the short stories in the Land of the Giants Annual – a piece of British spin-off merchandising – spelt out an aspect of the personal tension between Steve Burton and the poor little rich girl:

‘Her blasé attitude to this entire nightmare adventure, which had flung seven oddly assorted space travellers into a land of giants, was difficult for Steve to accept. It was only with an effort that he sometimes resisted the temptation to turn the spoilt young woman over his knee and spank her!’

But he never acted on that impulse, in either the short story or on television, and, much as she often deserved it, Valerie Scott was never spanked.

So why am I running an article about Land of the Giants today? It’s certainly not because the television series does in fact feature a spanking scene in one episode, since the recipient is an under-age girl, and that sort of thing has no claim on our attention whatsoever.

But the episode in question also had a spin-off: it was one of two that were adapted into comic strip form and published, a few panels at a time, on bubble gum cards released shortly after the series began airing. The artist was John Celardo, who also drew the Tarzan comic strip for fourteen years from 1954 to 1968, and one of the changes he made was to turn the key character into a pretty and even rather nubile teenager…

LotG 31

The story sees the ‘little people’ arriving in a deserted and mysteriously non-giant town – which is actually a model built by a benevolent old man named Akman, who wants the space travelers to become the resident population. One fly in the ointment is his granddaughter, who’s rather less kindly in her disposition.

LotG 34

A force field prevents the little people from leaving, so they set fire to the town in an effort to get Akman to turn it off. But the miniskirted teen terror doesn’t want them to go… She wants them to die!

LotG 42

They do escape, but not before they witness how Mr Akman deals with naughty girls:

LotG 1968 44

And it has to be said, that’s an improvement on the television version in absolutely every respect!

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