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.
Shortly afterwards, he transfered to Lyman Young, whom he assisted on '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 the space opera 'Buck Rogers'.
Together with writer Don Moore, Raymond came up with the science fiction comic 'Flash Gordon' and its companion 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.
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.
Demobilized as a major in 1946, Raymond created the daily crime strip 'Rip Kirby'. This feature also enjoyed enormous success, not only for its intruiging plots, but also for the beautiful women that populated the strips. 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.
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."
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.