Coming from Humbolt, Minnesota, Austin Briggs studied at the Wicker Art School in Detroit, and then attended the Art Students League in New York. He settled in New York City in the early 1930s, where he worked for an advertising agency and freelanced for various magazines, like the Dearborn Independent, Collier's, McClures and Pictorial Review.
He started his comic strip career as Alex Raymond's assistant on 'Flash Gordon' in 1936. From 1938 until 1940, he took over the 'Secret Agent X-9' strip, and from May 1940 to May 1944 he anonymously illustrated the 'Flash Gordon' daily. Between 1944 and 1948, he did the 'Flash Gordon' Sunday pages.
In 1941, he also drew the title comic of the comic book 'Spy Smasher'. He left comics in 1948 to focus on his illustration work. He was one of the founders of the Famous Artists School in Westport, Connecticut, and a member of the Society of Illustrator's Hall of Fame. Chiefly known as an illustrator, Briggs also left his mark as a comic strip artist. In 1973, he died of leukemia in Paris, where he had retired.