Posted By Art Baxter


I'll say straight out that FLASH GORDON was a dumb strip, but it was "good" dumb. You may remember the really bad movie with the Queen soundtrack. That was pret-ty bad. You may even remember the serials from the late 1930's with Buster Crabbe. (I have a fond spot for the first and the third, myself). But they pale beside the regal dumbness of the original strip by Alex Raymond. This is where STAR WARS came from my friends, like it or not.

Raymond had a way with the brush and pen. It seems dashed off but the figure work is excellent. Excellent technique in the service of rubbish. This type of realistic rendering in heroic pictofiction has been giving fanboys boners ever since with artists like Frazetta, Wally Wood, Neal Adams up through Alex Ross today. Raymond began the strip in 1934 and it was an almost immediate success. He stayed on the strip ten years until 1944 when he entered the marines. The strip limped along for nearly a half century more at the hands of others before mercifully ending in 1993. Raymond came to an end himself when he plowed his sports car into a tree near his home in Connecticut, dying instantly.

FLASH GORDON was noted for having lots of fights and lots of flesh: male and female. Flash always found an excuse to be bare chested and the costumes on the always shapely women could be pretty skimpy. Throw in some pseudo asian stereotypes, winged hawk-men in battle armor and the occasional dinosaur and you have a bona-fide hit on your hands,

Todays strip is early in the run when it was a year and a half old: June 2nd, 1935. Click here to view the entire strip. What we have here is Dale Arden, Flash's main squeeze from Earth and object of lust for the emperor of Mongo, Ming the Merciless who's always lookin' to shag some strange, getting a taste of the lash as punishment. Her top of her tunic has been lowered to her hips, naturally, for a proper flagellation. Ahhh, the type of thing one used to see in a family newspaper. So Ming was hot for Dale, Flash's girlfriend and Ming's saucy conniving daughter Azura was hot for Flash. Why Flash was just a couple of marriages away from being his own grandpa or something.

Why do we care for FLASH GORDON today? Well we don"t. Recently someone mentioned to me that they had seen the FLASH GORDON movie. I asked them why on earth did they want to watch that. They couldn"t answer; it was inexplicable. I asked them if they knew it was based on a comic strip. They didn't know what I was talking about.

Perhaps nude torture should return to the Sunday funnies. That would get somebody's attention, for sure.

NEXT: Stone Age skinny-dipping!

FLASH GORDON is © King Features Syndicate

3 Comment(s):
Jenofonte said...
The censored version is interesting. No bare backs, but fully clothed.
Monday, July 17, 2017 11:49:12 AM
Art Baxter said...
Flash was a dick in the movie. He was played by "pretty boy" non-actor, Sam Jones, who was only other real credit was as Bo Derrick's idiot boyfriend in "10." All his dialogue was dubbed by another actor. The only things in the movie I liked was Max von Sydow's "Ming" and the Italian actress, Ornella Muti, who played Ming's Daughter, Aura, also, Flash's duel with Prince Baron on the tilting platform in the woods. ...and of course the QUEEN soundtrack. The Buster Crabbe serials are thrilling in a dopey way but Crabbe as Flash and Charles Middleton as Ming, and Jean Rogers as Dale, were excellent. The special effects were very good for their day and budget. Glad you like the strip!
Sunday, September 21, 2008 12:50:00 PM
april said...
i like how flash is kind of a dick. i watched the movie a few months ago and it was as crappy as i remembered it. but you have to admit, that soundtrack was fantastic. but this strip is just plain gorgeous and very sexy. there's an economy in it that allows for the showcasing of the figures. very cool!
Sunday, September 21, 2008 10:24:32 AM
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