Johann Wyss' novel Swiss Family Robinson is one of the most well-known and treasured books for both children and adults. The main plot is simple; a family is stranded on a desolate island and they are forced to establish a tolerable life while fighting wild animals, the elements, and intruders. It is easy to see the main plot's resemblance to Daniel Defoe' s world-famous novel Robinson Crusoe, where Wyss' opus was a sort of a Robinson trip for families, though.
In 1962 Barks came up with a novel idea that started a new franchise. He suggested that the popular Swiss family story should be changed into a space odyssey. His publisher at Western Publishing, Craig Chase, filed the letter but later he decided to give the idea a chance. Since the comic book series Space Family Robinson ran from 1962 to 1984 in a total of 59 issues.
In a 1971 interview Barks recalled: Often I'll be dwelling on words, and I'll come up with puns and so on, association of words, and somehow or other the words Space Family Robinson just clicked into my head out of nowhere as a takeoff on Swiss Family Robinson. So I began thinking up a whole series of adventures for a space family Robinson. I would have loved to have done it. I wrote and told Chase that I thought that would be an awfully good idea for a comic book. Of course, he just put the letter in his file! He couldn't talk the company into doing anything like that at that time.
Two decades later Barks elaborated further on his initial idea: I would have very quickly wrecked the Robinson family's spaceship on a distant planet, and I wouldn't have had all that mechanical stuff to draw. I would have had the space family Robinson in this jungle-like place meeting all these strange animals like in Swiss Family Robinson. The characters they met, the animals and the things that they had to tame, and the way they had to make it a comfortable place to live. That's what I would have done with the space family Robinson. I would have had them meeting these strange animals and finding ways to adapt to all these new problems, so I could think of a lot of different angles.
After having first filed the letter away, Chase decided to give the idea a chance and the comic book series was then created by writer Del Connell and artist Dan Spiegle. Since then Space Family Robinson ran for many years as comic books, and as a TV-series named Lost in Space. It was later made into a film by the same name.