In an inverse of the stereotypical narrative, Alex Raymond, the creator of Flash Gordon, was encouraged by his father to be an artist. His dad would cover his office walls with examples of his son’s artwork. Sadly, he died when Alex was 12. Perhaps without the encouragement, Alex Raymond decided that art perhaps wasn’t for him and entered college on an athletic scholarship.
So, just so you know guys… one of the founding fathers of comic books as we know them today was totally a jock. When he devoted his life to his art, though, he rode hard for comics.
I decided honestly that comic art is an art form in itself. It reflects the life and times more accurately and actually is more artistic than magazine illustration—since it is entirely creative.
There’s surprisingly a lively amount of debate as to what Raymond’s methods actually were. Some insist that he used models and photographs, as was a common practice among illustrators. However, the caption included with the photo above came with the caption implying that the photo itself was staged for publicity purposes, and Raymond was more freestyle.
Raymond got to work with Dashiell Hammett for Secret Agent X-9, a spy comic. His greatest success happened, though, when King Features asked him to create a comic that would compete with Buck Rogers. And so Alex Raymond envisioned a man who could save every one of us when he created a fellow humbly named “Flash Gordon.”
Here’s a testament to Raymond’s skills by the way. Flash Gordon stories? They’re not that great. Honestly, Flash is a pretty weak and bland character that even the movie can’t rectify. But the reason Flash Gordon endures? Purelty through Raymond’s art. The outlandish costumes, the sleek rocket ships, the familiar yet alien worlds… It’s all carried through Raymond’s vivid imagination transmitted through the comics funny pages.