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Flash Gordon is the hero of a space opera adventure comic strip created by and 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 latest version, a Flash Gordon television series, appeared on the Syfy channel in the United States in 2007–2008.
Critical reception and influence
Flash Gordon is regarded as one of the best illustrated and most influential of American adventure comic strips. Historian of science fiction art Jane Frank asserted that because of his work on Flash Gordon, "Raymond is one of the most famous science fiction artists of all time, although he never contributed an illustration to any science fiction magazine or book". The science fiction historian John Clute has stated that "The comics version of Flash Gordon was graceful, imaginative and soaring" and included it on a list of the most important American science fiction comics. In an article about Raymond for The Comics Journal, R. C. Harvey declared that Raymond's Flash Gordon displayed "a technical virtuosity matched on the comics pages only by Harold Foster in Prince Valiant". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction stated that Flash Gordon's "elaborately shaded style and exotic storyline" made it one of the most influential comics, and that its art emphasised a "romantic baroque".
Flash Gordon (along with Buck Rogers) was a big influence on later science fiction comic strips, such as the American Don Dixon and the Hidden Empire (1935 to 1941) by Carl Pfeufer and Bob Moore. In Italy, Guido Fantoni drew Flash Gordon in 1938, after the prohibition by the fascist regime. In Belgium, Edgar P. Jacobs was commissioned to produce a science fiction comic strip in the style of Flash Gordon. Jacobs' new strip, Le Rayon U ("The U-Ray") began serial publication in Bravo in 1943. This version had text boxes which described the action and the dialogue, in the style of many Belgian comics of the time, similar to Hal Foster's version of Tarzan and Prince Valiant. In 1974, Jacobs reformatted Le Rayon U in order to include speech bubbles. This version was published in Tintin magazine and in book form by Dargaud-Le Lombard. The British comic The Trigan Empire, by Mike Butterworth and Don Lawrence, also drew on Flash Gordon for its artistic style.
Flash Gordon was also an influence on early superhero comics characters. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster based Superman's uniform of tights and a cape on costumes worn by Flash Gordon. Bob Kane's drawing of Batman on the cover of Detective Comics No. 27 (the first appearance of the character) was based on a 1937 Alex Raymond drawing of Flash Gordon. Dennis Neville modeled the comics hero Hawkman's costume on the "Hawkmen" characters in Raymond's Flash Gordon comic strip