Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Flash!

Flash Gordon, the original interstellar space stud!
Today marks Flash Gordon's 77th birthday, having first appeared in "the funny papers" (as they say), via King Features Syndicate, the world's longest-running comic strip publisher. Comic strip wizard Alex Raymond was challenged with coming up with a comparable space hero that could compete with the already popular Buck Rogers strip.
Flash leads an excursion through the wilds of Arboria
Raymond melded the growing fascination with science fiction with some old-fashioned swashbuckling, and in the process created a cultural phenomenon that quickly surpassed ol' Buck in popularity at the time. Other paramours followed, but it was Flash, who through nearly eight decades has endured as the template for space opera fantasy from the golden-age of comic storytelling. So began Flash's adventures on Planet Mongo in his tireless quest to free the enslaved populous from the tyrant Ming the Merciless, with companions Dale Arden, Dr. Hans Zarkov, Prince Barin and a host of other Mongo allies.Flash Gordon creator, Alex Raymond (self portrait)
Raymond drew Flash for less than a decade before he joined the Marines in 1944. He returned to the states, but not to Flash. Soon he began a new strip about a the adventures of a private detective, Rip Kirby. That series was also immensely popular in its heyday. Raymond wouldn't get the chance finish the series himself--or return to Flash--he was killed in an auto accident in 1956.

Flash had many artists in the years that followed, but most cleaved closely to Raymond's original formula of sword fights and rayguns, space damsels in distress, and spaceships that go wooosh!
Its a formula that works!


  1. Cool.

    When I first looked at the header pic I was a bit startled. I thought it was a one of the dread Silver Suits...

  2. Very cool.

    Flash Gordon is a lot of fun. It'd sure be great to see some of the old Flash goodness make its way into the new & improved X-plorers game...

  3. @Drune, no worries--it's only Flash! BTW, thanks for stopping by--I checked out your blog which is way cool! I added your blog to the blog roll and I'm now following yours.

    @Netherwerks, Flash and the whole big space-opera fantasy has to be my favorite genre of sci-fi. The X-plorers 2nd edition will be more basic, but I'm working a version/setting/something of my own that I'll eventually release that will be much more in a space-gusto-type of Flash Gordon universe.