America’s King Features Syndicate recently launched a new Flash Gordon daily and Sunday comic strip that’s gaining a following from fans old and new of the SF character first created in the 1930s, its original Sunday paper run ending 20 years ago.
The new daily and Sunday Flash Gordon series, the work of Eisner nominated Dan Schkade, picks up where the original comic strip left off in 2003, with the overthrow of Ming the Merciless. Returning to Flash Gordon’s basics, the world will be populated by both new androids familiar characters, while the central theme of fighting against fascism and tyranny remains at the comic’s core.
The strip, which comes as King Features ends its The Amazing Spider-Man strip, is being distributed in print and online, The Washington Post among the US papers that have picked it up.
Created by Alex Raymond, the Flash Gordon strip made its debut in American Sunday newspapers on 7th January 1934. A brief daily run, largely the work of Austin Briggs ran from 27th May 1940 to 3rd June 1944.
The strip had a global readership by World War Two, and influenced science fiction comics storytelling for decades. Its phenomenal early success quickly spawned movie serials starring Olympic swimmer turned actor Buster Crabbe, who also headlined Hollywood adaptations of the Tarzan and Buck Rogers comic strips.
After Alex Raymond was drafted, other artists and writers took over the Sunday strip, including Austin Briggs, Mac Raboy, and Jim Keefe.
The daily strip returned for a long run from 19th November 1951 to 3rd July 1993, drawn for many years by Dan Barry, most of these published in Rick Norwood’s bimonthly magazine, Comics Revue, and in prestige hardback collections from Titan Books. Writers included Harvey Kurtzman and Harry Harrison. The Sunday strip, drawn by Jim Keefe, ended on 16th March 2003.
The all-new Flash Gordon
Dan Schkade, creator of the new Flash Gordon strip, is best known for his work on such comics as Will Eisner’s The Spirit Returns, the Eisner + Ringo Award-Nominated Lavender Jack, and Saint John. He’s also a member-at-large of the comic creator collective, Helioscope.
The Washington Post noted Schkade won a competitive tryout earlier this year to script and draw the strip, shortly before King announced a licensing deal with Mad Cave Studios in July, which will begin publishing other original “Flash Gordon” narratives, graphic novels and comic reprints next year.
“There’s been a real surge of interest in Flash Gordon, as we’ve been seeing through our publishing partnership with Mad Cave,” said Tea Fougner, editorial director for comics at King Features told the Post last month. “The story of Flash and his allies – a story of ordinary people from wildly diverse backgrounds learning to work together against seemingly insurmountable odds – is perennially relatable.”
For Schkade, whose development of the strip went through several stages, the core of “Flash Gordon” is, he says, “built around finding community in the face of injustice.” How do forces of self-interest seek to divide people and suppress individuality? What powers the human need to connect, no matter the planet? And how do you find courage when dropped into a world of strange danger?
In addition to the comics and early movie serials, Flash’s universe was dramatised in a 1980 feature film, with a soundtrack by Queen, among many other screen projects, and filmmaker Taika Waititi is reportedly in development with a movie reboot.
Flash Gordon at Mad Cave Studios
Under King Features partnership with US publisher Mad Cave Studios, expect thrilling escapades, imaginative worlds, and epic storytelling as Flash Gordon once again takes centre stage in the world of comics and graphic novels.
King Features and Mad Cave Studios say they will not only bring new and original Flash Gordon content to eager fans but will also ensure the preservation and availability of timeless classics.
Additionally, Mad Cave Studios, through their middle-grade imprint, Papercutz, will look to introduce Flash Gordon to the next generation through a young readers program. This collaboration presents a unique opportunity to unite fans of all ages in their love for Flash Gordon.
“As one of the first action heroes Flash Gordon has always been powerhouse in the comics universe,’ said King Features’ Licensing Director, Christina Nix Lynch. “We’re delighted to have a partner like Mad Cave Studios on board who are true Flash fans as well as publishing experts. This program will bring a long-awaited, regular stream of new and legacy content to generations of readers.”
Mark Irwin, Mad Cave Senior Vice President, added “From the incredible art of Alex Raymond to the adventures of the Defenders of the Earth, and on to the cult classic Sam Jones-led film, Flash Gordon is an integral part of both the history of comics and the actual DNA of storytelling. Mad Cave and King Features are not only happy to be working together to bring Flash to our readers but also to grow the Flash Gordon legacy.”
Allison Pond, CMO, Mad Cave Studios, added, “We are thrilled to announce the official partnership between Mad Cave Studios and King Features in publishing Flash Gordon comics and graphic novels. We are honored to collaborate with King Features to continue the legacy of this iconic series and deliver exciting adventures to readers of all ages.”
• Buy the Flash Gordon prestige hardback collections from Titan Books (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.
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