Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon is the hero of a space opera adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip.

The Flash Gordon comic strip has been translated into a wide variety of media, including motion pictures, television and animated series.

The Buck Rogers comic strip had been very commercially successful, spawning novelizations and children's toys. King Features Syndicate decided to create their own science fiction comic strip to compete with it. At first King Features tried to purchase the rights to the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs; however, the syndicate were unable to reach an agreement with Burroughs.

King Features then turned to Alex Raymond, one of their staff artists, to create the story. Raymond's first samples were dismissed for not containing enough action sequences. Raymond reworked the story and sent it back to the syndicate, who accepted it. Raymond was partnered with ghostwriter Don Moore (1904-1986), an experienced editor and writer. Raymond's first Flash Gordon story appeared in January 1934, alongside Jungle Jim.

The Flash Gordon strip was well received by newspaper readers, becoming one of the most popular
American comic strips of the 1930s. Like Buck Rogers, the success of Flash Gordon resulted in numerous licensed products being sold, including pop-up books, colouring books, and toy spaceships and rayguns.

Starting April 22, 1935, the strip was adapted into The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, a 26-episode weekly radio serial. The series followed the strip very closely, amounting to a week-by-week adaptation of the Sunday strip for most of its run.

Flash Gordon was played by Gale Gordon, later famous for his television roles in Our Miss Brooks, Dennis the Menace, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy (the latter two with Lucille Ball). The cast also included Maurice Franklin as Dr. Zarkov and Bruno Wick as Ming the Merciless.

The radio series broke with the strip continuity in the last two episodes, when Flash, Dale and Zarkov
returned to Earth. They make a crash landing in Africa, where they meet Jungle Jim, the star of another of Alex Raymond's comic strips.

The series ended on October 26, 1935 with Flash and Dale's marriage. The next week, The Adventures of Jungle Jim picked up in that Saturday timeslot.

Two days later, on October 28, The Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon debuted as a
daily show, running five days a week. This series strayed further from Raymond's strip, involving Flash, Dale and Zarkov in an adventure in Atlantis. The series aired 74 episodes, ending on February 6, 1936.

For a more in depth look at the adventures of Flash Gordon and his cast of characters in all of their extensive media translations, visit the Flash Gordon Wiki page.

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