Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Flash Gordon Series by Titan Books

Vol. 1 On The Planet Mongo 1934-1937

Greg Manchess

If you're gonna go through life with a name like 'Flash', you'd better back it up by being very cool under fire, have a hot I'd-better-go-with-you girlfriend and a brilliant father-figure scientist buddy at your side.

That would be Flash Gordon. The best airman this side of Mongo.

My grandmother used to send me clippings of the Flash Gordon Sunday strip out of the Chicago Tribune when I was a kid. They didn’t run it in my local Cincinnati Enquirer. By the time I discovered it on a trip to my grandparent’s house, I had no idea where the story had started or where it was going.

I didn’t care. Those clippings were like jewels of color that I studied and studied.

Whoever this Alex Raymond guy was, his artwork was enough to get me curious. With his graceful, information-charged lines, I could daydream about Flash’s world, make up images of Flash and Dale and Dr. Zarkov as real people.

But over the decades, I’d lost hope that I’d ever get to revisit those strips in quite the same way.

But Titan Books has been publishing the entire series in one beautiful volume after another. Recently released is volume 3, “The Fall of Ming 1941-1944,” preceded by volume 1, “On The Planet Mongo, 1934-1937,” and volume 2, “The Tyrant of Mongo, 1937-1941.” The production is excellent and makes a gorgeous set of books, collecting several years in each volume.

Vol. 2 The Tyrant of Mongo 1937-1941

Vol. 3 The Fall of Ming 1941-1944

The beauty of the pages is that they not only capture the color, but they capture a bit of the age of the strip. It allows me to remember my excitement as a kid, only now, I know what I’d been missing.

Alex Raymond’s work is as exciting today as it was in the 30’s and 40’s, or even my childhood. The pages are lovingly produced. Titan respects these pages as much as the fans and presents them as fresh and alive as if inked yesterday.

In production now is volume 4, “Kang The Cruel” by another fabulous inker, Austin Briggs.


  1. This totally sparked a memory of my grandfather sending me clippings of the Sunday Calvin and Hobbes strips. We got C&H in Anchorage, Alaska, but this was during the period when Watterson was forced to draw the first row of panels as optional because many papers didn't include them. Grandpa's paper in Wilmington, Delaware had the full version, so every month I'd receive an envelope with the strips, some candy, and often $5.

    Also love the Alex Raymond strips; my first exposure was helping to put together the some of the reprints at Dark Horse Comics as part of my internship.

  2. That's a great memory, Lukas! I love Calvin and Hobbes as well. One of the only strips in recent history where the technique and child-like quality of the ink came together with spot-on writing. That guy really nailed it.

    Another all-time favorite Flash Gordon artist is Al Williamson. I hope to do another review of Flesk's book of his FG work.

  3. As always Greg, thanks for sharing your memories.
    Lukas, you sure have some swell grandparents :) My older siblings had C&H comic books, and I learned to read from those.
    Pardon if this is a duh question, but has any of the Flash Gordon artists worked on Prince Valiant, and vice versa? The styles look similar to me.

  4. My Grandfolks were awesome indeed, as was discovering such great strips as C&H and Flash Gordon for the first time :)

    I almost forgot how heavily the Alex Raymond stuff impacted me until I came across this piece I did for the "Spacenight: A Tribute to Bill Mantlo" group show/auction that Floating World Comics curated in 2007 in order to raise money for Bill Mantlo (who created ROM and was injured in 1992).

    I've been wanting to retry this piece for years, especially with all the great new stuff I've learned from places like Muddy Colors and Stan Prokopenko's :)

    (Apologies ahead of time if posting links to images in the comments section is frowned on, I just really wanted to share this one given the article's subject matter.)


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