Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond

Alexander Gillespie (Alex) Raymond was born in New Rochelle, New York, as the son of an engineer. Although he showed an early interest in drawing, he had his first job as an order clerk in Wall Street. When the economic crisis hit the USA in 1929, he enrolled in the Grand Central School of Art in New York City. A year later he started working with Russ Westover, the creator of 'Tilly the Toiler' and was introduced to King Features Syndicate.

Jungle Jim, by Alex Raymond (1939)
Jungle Jim (1939)

Shortly afterwards, he transfered to Lyman Young ('Tim Tyler's Luck'), from 1930 to 1933. In 1932 and 1933, he ghosted both Young's daily strips and Sunday pages of 'Tim Tyler'. In this same period, he additionally assisted Chic Young on 'Blondie'. At the end of 1933, Raymond was asked by King Features Syndicate to create a Sunday page that could compete with 'Buck Rogers'. Together with writer Don Moore, Raymond came up with the science-fiction comic 'Flash Gordon' and its complentary strip, 'Jungle Jim', an adventurous saga set in South-East Asia. In addition, Alex Raymond signed on to draw 'Secret Agent X9', a daily strip scripted by Dashiell Hammett for the Evening Journal. All three creations started in January, 1934.

Rip Kirby, by Alex Raymond 1949
Rip Kirby (11-5-1949)

While working on his comic series, Raymond additionally produced illustrations for Blue Book, Look, Collier's and Cosmopolitan. By the end of 1935, Alex Raymond stopped with 'Secret Agent X9', leaving it to Charles Flanders, to spend more time on his Sunday features. In particular, 'Flash Gordon' became world famous. In 1944, Raymond joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Pacific, while his comics were continued by his assistant Austin Briggs.

Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond
Flash Gordon (1938)

Demobilized as a major in 1946, Raymond created 'Rip Kirby', a daily police strip, which also enjoyed enormous success. Alex Raymond died at the height of his fame, on 6 September 1956, after a car accident that also injured Stan Drake. Alex Raymond's influence on other cartoonists was considerable during his lifetime, and has not diminished after his death. The 'Flash Gordon' newspaper strip was continued by artist Jim Keefe.

Flash Gordon, by Alex Raymond

Alex Raymond about his comic art:
"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. An illustrator works with camera and models; a comic artist begins with a white sheet of paper and dreams up his own business - he is playwright, director, editor and artist at once."

Raymond's mercedes is Rip Kirby, July 1956
Alex Raymond often depicted his Mercedes SL300

in his comic strip, such as here from 2 July 1956,

only two months before he died in a car crash.

Flash Gordon at KingFeatures.com

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