Flash Gordon: On the Planet Mongo!
Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo!
As far as science fiction goes; I am of a generation that came up with the original Star Wars trilogy. It has influenced my imagination and has been the standard by which I judge other science fiction stories. Oh, yeah, and I just flat out f*%king love it. However, here’s a little bit of trivia I recently learned from reading the introduction (written by artist Alex Ross) for Flash Gordon: On the Planet Mongo. Apparently, in the early 1970’s, a young film maker (George Lucas) approached King Features to acquire the licensing to make a feature Flash Gordon film. As a child, Lucas had been a fan of the movies and television serials and wanted to produce the epic sci-fi adventure originally created for newspapers by artist Alex Raymond. Ultimately Lucas was turned down and went on to make Star Wars, which was, on no small level, influenced by Raymond’s Flash Gordon. Now, thanks to Titan Books, we have the opportunity to read the original comics (that would someday influence future artists, authors, and plaid loving movie makers) in two beautiful hard bound volumes.
Flash Gordon: On the Planet Mongo, and Tyrant of Mongo, feature the very first Flash Gordon comics, as scene in daily national newspapers from 1934 to 1941. On the Planet Mongo covers 1934 to 1937, and Tyrant of Mongo covers 1937 to 1941 and tells the story of how the athlete, Flash Gordon, and his ever in peril love interest, Dale Arden, are taken from the planet Earth (by the mad scientist Dr. Zarkov) and eventually end up fighting Ming the Merciless and his forces of evil on the planet Mongo. The two volumes are a wonderful tribute to one of science fictions most influential hero and his creator. Alex Raymond was a master at his craft and his art work is easily surpasses most modern day artists. However, most of the stories would be considered quaint in comparison to modern comics. The stories are mostly centered on the scheming plots by Ming the Merciless, or various animal people, or to destroy the Earth, or seduce Dale Arden away from Flash and place her in some exotic harem. Though, in their defense, she was really hot, and from the look of many of her early outfits it is easy to see where Princess Leia’s metal bikini came from in Return of the Jedi. Thanks Dale!
On the Planet Mongo, and Tyrant of Mongo, are not just coffee table books. You are going to love reading these old stories and see the dynamic illustrative talent of Alex Raymond grow as the story progresses. I have enjoyed reading all the comics in both volumes and I treasure this collection of stories. Copies of both books can be purchased at Titan Books.
Check out some sample comics form the book and, should you buy either volume, play the Youtube video below to get in the mood.