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Monday, 8 August 2011

Titan Books Grabs Gordon (Flash, that is)

Flash Gordon: On the Planet Mongo is set for a March 2012 release

Titan Books has announced the publication of The Complete Flash Gordon Library in 2012. Compiling every strip and every story, this series of restored full-colour hardcover volumes will showcase the action and artistry that thrilled audiences for decades.

The first ever Flash Gordon episode, drawn by Alex Raymond
Everyone knows Flash Gordon -- the most iconic science fiction swashbuckler ever to burst forth from the newspaper pages and whose inclusion in a news paper was once considered part of its Unique Selling Point. His adventures wielded so much energy that they inspired everyone who followed, no matter what the medium.

Filmmaker George Lucas famously revealed, "Growing up in California, I was enchanted by two things...race cars and Flash Gordon. The first love I put to use in American Graffiti, the second eventually turned into Star Wars."


Flash Gordon first hit superstardom in 1934 with his comic strip adventures, which continued unabated for seven decades. His influence spread like wildfire into every medium -- films, television, novels, comic books, radio plays, and more. Every generation has had its incarnation of the character, and yet another major motion picture is reported to be in the works.

Launching in early 2012 with On the Planet Mongo, Titan says the mission of The Complete Flash Gordon Library will be to collect every strip and every story, offering them in affordable, full-colour hardcover volumes, carefully restored and revealing the action and the artistry that thrilled audiences for decades. Through the painstaking efforts of renowned comic strip historian Pete Maresca, readers will experience the heroics of Flash Gordon, the beauty of Dale Arden, the evil of Ming the Merciless, and the exotic setting of the distant planet Mongo. Each installment will be meticulously reworked so that the intricate artwork, the vivid colors, and the unparalleled action will explode off of the page.

Beginning with the renowned stories written and illustrations by Alex Raymond -- the genius behind the hero -- The Complete Flash Gordon Library will continue with the other brilliant illustrators who took the helm and ran with his creation: Austin Briggs, Mac Raboy, Dan Barry, and many more. Each page will be 11" x 10" -- specifically designed to spotlight the action-packed artistry of the creators, and each volume will feature 176 or more pages of full-color action.

A Flash Gordon Sunday strip, drawn by Jim O'Keefe
Volume One, On the Planet Mongo, will feature a foreword by renowned illustrator Alex Ross, and future installments will offer other special features revealing the secrets behind the strip and its creators.

The Complete Flash Gordon Library joins Titan's other long-running newspaper strip collections including the critically acclaimed Simon and Kirby Library, and the Modesty Blaise and James Bond series.

Pre-order The Complete Flash Gordon Library: On the Planet Mongo from amazon.co.uk



Pre-order The Complete Flash Gordon Library: On the Planet Mongo from amazon.com


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at this! What are Titan up to? If you look at the first episode of Flash Gordon, by today's standards it is very poor artwork and unlikely to appeal to anyone other than fans (who probably have the Checkers versions available through Book Palace). Of course, Alex Raymond developed into a very fine artist but it was two years before that started to happen.

Austin Briggs, who took over, was a poor copy of Alex Raymond and in no-way maintained Alex's standards. It is notable that it is only Alex Raymond's work that is published again and again - and generally runs finish as Briggs takes over or completes a story arc. Briggs went on to draw the daily strip (in b/w) which was later taken over by Dan Barry while Mac Raboy took on the Sunday pages. Do Titan intend to colour the dailies by Barry and Briggs?

Mac Raboy's work on Flash Gordon was very good, but extremely stylized. He started out well, but the change to using speech balloons tends to slow the story.

A further change in format to accommodate the different requirements of newspapers - in each of the later strips, picture four of the three-banks could be dropped, and the remaining pictures re-assembled to make either a two- or four-bank strip. The title logo and picture four served only as packing, meaning a Sunday episode had to progress in seven pictures. The change in layout wrecked Raboy's style.

No artist produced work of any merit after Raboy and Barry left the strip.

Jim O'Keefe's work on the Sunday is very poor - he was the last person to work on the strip before it was cancelled - but that probably is a result of low pay.

I think Titan Books have a miss on their hands.

Anonymous said...

To this 70 year young, Mac Raboy, albeit stylized was a strip I first saw in the Toronto Star Weekly in late 1951.I was excited when dark horse put all his strips into a 4 volume printing. I was disappointed upon learning that they were not in color. This is why I'm excited to learn a complete printing of all the Flash strips will feature all of Mac Raboy's photo realistic work and in color. To me Mac Raboy's art far exceeds even it's creator, Raymond.

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