Without those Flash Gordon Strips, There Wouldn’t Be Comic Books


The Canton Repository interviewed a specialty store owner who cited artist Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon strip as a prominent influence for many superhero and adventure fares to follow:


Tom Mattevi, owner of the comic book shop, admitted that while Flash Gordon is relatively obscure in the world of modern comics and fantasy characters, the trailblazing space adventurer still resonates from a bygone age when humans could only fantasize and speculate as to what existed in outer space. Excitement gripped the voice of the longtime comic book aficionado when he spoke of Flash Gordon’s legacy. And Mattevi perked up even more when promoting Saturday’s scheduled appearance of actor Sam J. Jones, who played the lead role in the 1980 cult classic “Flash Gordon” movie.


But the downside, as he notes, is that FG suffers from the curse of being looked upon as outdated:


“Part of the problem is his genre, if you will, is outdated,” Mattevi said when asked why another “Flash Gordon” movie hasn’t been made since 1980 and why the legendary character is a rarity within the heaps of comics and memorabilia in his shop. “Back in the 1930s, rocket ships flying to distant planets, that was just something people dreamed of and that was great, but in 2021, knowing the limitations of space travel and because we’ve been to the moon and we’re sending missions to Mars and beyond, it’s not so fantastic,” he said. However, “without comic strips, there wouldn’t have been comic books.”


Very true. That’s how the whole medium began, after all, in newspapers. But it’s not merely a problem of inability to suspend disbelief in a modern age that leads to discouragement. It’s also a problem of obsessively ramrodding partisan politics into modern comicdom, especially in mainstream superhero fare, that’s led to discouragement from reading these classic creations. To which we could add the crisis of indoctrination in leftist schools and universities to see racial discrimination around every corner, and failure to encourage people to suspend their disbelief at surreal situations. The John Carter movie adaptation from a decade ago suffered badly at the box office from such mentality (it was also very costly at the time, with a $350 million budget). There have been more modern comics based on FG, from companies like Dynamite Entertainment, but the problem of audience lacking interest in such early sci-fi products still prevails, and the PC mentality of recent will surely victimize FG’s girlfriend Dale Arden to boot.



It’s a shame that early classics in the space faring adventure genre often end up the biggest victims of political correctness, but let’s remember that’s because modern ideologues in education don’t encourage people to leave their politics at the door and try to enjoy these tales for what they are, and recognize that without classics like Flash Gordon, we wouldn’t have a lot of the later sci-fi creations to follow. Yet this should serve as a sad sign of what’s bound to come: Stan Lee-created superhero adventures like Fantastic Four could one day fall victim to the same situation as FG, because the vision Stan Lee and Jack Kirby built the FF upon will be viewed as equally outdated. Such a fate will doubtless await the rest of the Marvel universe too, and education-based ideologues will only precipitate how the public ends up viewing them.


Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1