Sunday, January 12, 2014

WINKY DINK "at the Arctic!"

Kids interacted with their TVs long before video games...
...thanks to Winky Dink, as we join him in a Polar Vortex of his own...
Praised by Microsoft's Bill Gates as "the first interactive TV show", the 1953-57 Winky Dink series' gimmick was the use of a "magic drawing screen" (a large piece of vinyl plastic that stuck to a television screen via static electricity) plus a set of crayons.
At the climactic scene in every short, Winky would end up in a scene that contained a "connect the dots" picture. He would then urge the children at home to complete the picture, and the finished result would help him continue the story.
Another use of the interactive screen was to decode messages. An image would be displayed, showing only the vertical lines of the letters of the secret message, which viewers at home would quickly trace onto their magic screen. The next image would then display only the horizontal lines, completing the text with the vertical lines the kids already drew!
A final use of the screen was to create the outline of a character with whom Jack Barry would have a conversation. It would seem meaningless to viewers without the stick-on screen and crayons, further encouraging the audience to buy the kit, made easy by the fact that commercials during the show incessantly reminded the audience that the kit could be purchased by mail for 50 cents!
Even then, many kids didn't want to wait for snail mail and simply improvised and used the crayons they already had to draw directly on the TV's cathode ray tube! Needless to say, many parents weren't happy with the results since wax crayons were difficult to remove from the specially-treated glass of the cathode ray tube!
BTW, you can watch a complete episode HERE!
This Arctic-themed story is from Dell's Four Color #663 (1955), one of only two comic books the Winky appeared in!
Both writer and artist are unknown, but it seems to be adapted from one of the episodes, since there are several points where it looks like kids would be requested to draw (or erase) things to advance the tale!
You'll also note the use of tv screen-shaped panels to give the story a TV watching-style experience!