The tragic automobile accident that took American comic artist Alex Raymond‘s life in 1956 will probably never be fully explained, but now Dave Sim (Cerebus), in partnership with Carson Grubaugh (You Don’t Know Jack) have finally brought The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, the story of one of comics’ greatest creators, using their own techniques, to completion.
The 320-page collection, published by Living The Line, will include all two-257 pages of content from The Strange Death of Alex Raymond Volume One and Volume Two, an additional 21 pages that were mocked-up by Dave for Volume Three before he quit working on the book, and another 31 pages created entirely by Carson Grubaugh, which are intended to bring the reading experience to a narrative close.
Grubaugh has helped recover and complete this mammoth Sim project from limbo, and is releasing it in an oversized 320-page hardcover, which will be distributed to comic shops through Diamond Comics in July, and to book shops through Diamond Book Distributors, on sale 3rd August 2021.
Equal parts Understanding Comics and From Hell, with a foreword by Eddie Campbell, The Strange Death of Alex Raymond is described as “a head-on collision of ink drawing and spiritual intrigue, pulp comics and movies, history and fiction.”
The story traces the lives and techniques of Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon, Rip Kirby), Stan Drake (Juliet Jones), Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), and more, dissecting their techniques through recreations of their artwork, and highlighting the metatextual resonances that bind them together.
The project has its origins in the pages of Sim’s post-Cerebus comic glamourpuss, published between 2008 and 2012, but when Sim began Strange Death the graphic novel, almost none of that earlier work was retained. Sim completed approximately 180 pages of this 320-page volume by himself, between 2012 and 2015, before being struck with a potentially career-ending wrist malady.
Fellow photorealist Carson Grubaugh was brought on by Sim shortly thereafter to continue the work, which he did over the next few years.
Longtime followers of The Strange Death of Alex Raymond will be aware that this project was the focus of numerous crowdfunding attempts, but Rich Johnston, who has regularly reported on the project’s progress – or lack of it – on Bleeding Cool noted how Dave Sim was showing extreme doubts as to whether anyone would want to read it.
Last year, Sim announced his intentions to cease work on the project, but gave Grubaugh permission to publish the entirety of the work, with a newly-created conclusion by Grubaugh.
“The Strange Death of Alex Raymond is the work of an apex-level-creator doing the best work he has ever done, an absolute master-class in the potential of the medium.,” he says. “The thought that it might never see the light of day tortured me. That I somehow get to be the guy to wrap it up and bring it to the market is totally baffling. “
Now, thankfully, the work has been completed, and from the preview imagery posted, it looks amazing.
The Strange Death of Alex Raymond will be available as a deluxe oversized hardback, published by Living the Line, run by writer, illustrator and musician Sean Michael Robinson. Living the Line have been working with Dave Sim on digitally restoring the 6,000 page Cerebus epic since 2014.
• The Strange Death of Alex Raymond (ISBN: 978-1-7368605-0-2) will be available from comic shops in July and bookshops from 3rd August 2021. Diamond Order Code FEB219102 | US Independent Bookshop Finder Service