FLASH GORDON: THE FIRST FLASH

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Original Flash Promotion, 1934. I Guess Ming just wasn’t sexy enough to make the cut. (Courtesy of Allan Holtz)

Original Flash Promotion, 1934. I guess Ming just wasn’t sexy enough to make the cut.
(Courtesy of Allan Holtz)

When the world first saw  FLASH GORDON, it was not the first science fiction or even space strip. BUCK ROGERS had been around for five years, and BRICK BRADFORD had launched the previous August, although it was still in its earthbound adventure phase. Flash was a far different strip than Buck, with its bulky space ships with exposed machinery, wires and rivets and heavy lines.

Alex Raymond (1909-56) as seen by Alex Raymond.

Alex Raymond (1909-56) as seen by Alex Raymond.

Alex Raymond was an up-and-coming young cartoonist, ghosting for Russ Westover on TILLIE THE TOILER, on Lyman Young’s TIM TYLER’S LUCK and his brother Chic Young’s BLONDIE.  By late 1933, he came to the attention of the president of King Features, Joe Connelly. His artwork was quite impressive, in the classic, highly detailed tradition of earlier penmen like Fredrick Remington and Charles Dana Gibson. He was eager to do a strip of his own, and the time was ripe for the syndicate to put out a science fiction adventure series of our own, so FLASH GORDON was born.

FLASH GORDON made its debut on 7 January 1934, along with a top comic called JUNGLE JIM, a Frank Buck-type adventure about a fearless hunter/trapper, also created by Raymond. If this didn’t keep him busy enough, he was also picked to do the new daily series, SECRET AGENT X-9, which was written (at least at the start) by famed mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, also beginning the same month.

The first Flash Gordon/ Jungle Jim page.

The first Flash Gordon/ Jungle Jim page.

Flash became an overnight hit, and soon, films, radio and later, television series and various licensed merchandise, appeared. Flash became the standard for space operas around the world. One part of Flash’s story has been comic books. As I have a stock of some interesting ones I’ll show them off here.

A 1972 Spanish title (Buru Lan Comics, San Sebastian) reprinting Raymond art from 1937.

This page will talk about all things FLASH GORDON, and we’ll try to answer questions and share items from the archives, so feel free to comment.

Yours truly.

The King Features Archivist.

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One thought on “FLASH GORDON: THE FIRST FLASH

  1. Hello, I’d like to know when the Flash Gordon daily strip started. Was it first drawn by Alex Raymond, Austin Briggs or someone else ? Also, when did Austin Briggs take over the sunday pages ? Do you know if all his Flash Gordon work has been reprinted ? Thank you, Joe Bierman

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