Back in the 1950s and 60s, General Electric created a comic book series to help spark interest and excitement in science and engineering. Now the brand has teamed up with Wattpad to bring “Adventures in Science” back to life for a new generation, but with a bit of a twist.
The comic covers still look straight out of the ’60s, but the brand invited six of the writing social app’s most popular writers to create new science-fiction inspired by the old school comic series. The new fiction goes live today, and is based on the real work of GE scientists and tackles topics from GE’s digital industrial portfolio like transportation, power and water, health care, and energy.
General Electric’s director of innovation Sam Olstein says that 60 years ago, the goal behind the stories was to teach students about what is possible in the fields of science and engineering. “This came at a time when comic books were thought to produce juvenile delinquents, but instead the effort inspired a new generation of wannabe engineers,” says Olstein. “Today these comic books are incredible historical artifacts (some even in the national archive), and we have been wanting to breath new life into them.”
While the old school charm is cool, Olstein says it’s just as important to give the new stories a modern sensibility. “The nostalgia of our legacy combined with the imagination of tomorrow’s creators on Wattpad, we hope will spark renewed interest and discovery in these fields,” says Olstein. “Additionally we knew that most of the Wattpad community reads and writes on their mobile device and we wanted to fit our approach into this existing behavior.”
Wattpad’s head of business development Aron Levitz says the idea of using science fiction to tell these stories was only enhanced when GE had surfaced the vintage comic titles. “Redeveloping these concepts that had obviously already had such impact on society just lends itself to amazing storytelling,” says Levitz. “Native ad campaigns on Wattpad can take many forms but it’s always about entertaining content. The approach to explore the beneficial short-term impact of technology, was completely novel. Layer on top of that six of our most talented sci-fi writers, and it’s just a formula for amazing stories that will be devoured by our more than 40 million users.”