Alex Raymond’s first Flash Gordon newspaper strip was sold in a Profiles in History auction for $480,000 this week, the highest price ever realised for a piece of comic strip art.
The initial strip introduced Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov, introducing the handsome “Flash Gordon, Yale graduate and world-renowned polo player” and companion Dale Arden, who parachute out of a crashing plane and are shanghaied by Dr. Hans Zarkov aboard his rocket ship launched to intercept the threatening planet Mongo hurtling towards Earth.
The character became an instant favorite right from the beginning of his debut on the pages of newspapers. The company that owned the series sold their strip to papers across the world. It is estimated that the Flash Gordon newspaper series was translated into more than eight languages, published in 130 newspapers and read by over 50 million people.
Commenting on it, the auctioneer in a statement said, “Alex Raymond’s realistic style and skillful use of feathering (a mid-tone shading technique using a series of parallel lines to give form and volume to objects and figures) influenced comic luminaries such as Jack Kirby, Russ Manning, Bob Kane, and Al Williamson, just to name a few,” He further added, “Flash Gordon is regarded as one of the best illustrated and most influential of American adventure comic strips. Siegel and Shuster based Superman’s uniform of tights and a cape on costumes worn by Flash.” The original artwork for Jungle Jim #1 was also sold at the same auction for $90,000.