You don’t need to reference the Flash Gordon movie in the comments, I understand that you’ve seen it.

§ November 1st, 2023 § Filed under newspaper strips, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 24 Comments

When you weren’t looking, someone took the moribund Flash Gordon newspaper strip, in reruns for decades, and revived it into something awesome. Dan Schkade started on the strip a couple of weeks ago, and has really been kicking butt and taking names. Fast-paced, beautifully illustrated, wittily dialogued, it’s a solid demonstration that just because something’s been around forever and left to basically rot, it doesn’t mean someone can’t come along and apply a little elbow grease and get things working again. It’s a great strip, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier as the first couple of installments are behind a paywall now, but you can catch on to what’s going on easily enough.

Amusingly in the comments now and again are a tiny handful of people upset that Flash Gordon is suddenly new and interesting, wishing for the return of artists who have done them the disfavor of no longer being alive. Anyway, you have to kind of admire the commitment of the same four or five people who turn up at that site every day to click the “ANGRY” response button for each strip. But frankly, all things considered, they should be grateful anyone’s even bothering to maintain the comic at all.

• • •

Andrew Farago has written an excellent obituary for the late and, needless to say, great Keith Giffen for The Comics Journal. He rightly lists the accolades, while not ignoring one of the more…unfortunate periods of his career (to which I just barely alluded in my own barely-adequate remembrance).

So check out Andrew’s coverage of everything Giffen did for the comics industry over the last few decades. His influence is probably greater than you realize. Or even I realized…even though I read most of the stuff he worked on for the last thirty years as it was coming out, seeing it all assembled and quantified as to its importance to this medium (and its expansion into film) was a real eye-opener. Giffen was a giant, even if we didn’t always understand just how tall he was.

24 Responses to “You don’t need to reference the Flash Gordon movie in the comments, I understand that you’ve seen it.”

  • Tom W says:

    Gordon’s alive?!

  • DK says:

    Sometimes a property needs the old fans to totally die off before it can be rebooted.

    Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon could recapture the childhood nostalgia of 30’s and 40’s kids in the 1970’s because it was only a 30 year gap. If you were 5 in 1938 you were only 46 in 1979, just right for the camp fun of a Flash movie or Buck TV show.

    Well now it’s a 90 year gap, without a serious rethink it’s imposisble to get new fans with a 1930’s aesthetic and ancient pulp storylines.

    It’ll be interesting to see how successful they are at purging the overt Yellow Peril origins of the franchise.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    On the one hand, it’s good to know that Flash Gordon has returned…on the other hand, it’s too bad that Jim Keefe isn’t back on the strip again…or that a refined artist such as Mike Hoffman or Mark Schultz who is solidly in the Alex Raymond aesthetic tradition wasn’t given the gig.

    No offense to Dan Schkade, but his highly cartoony style seems more in the Chester Gould tradition than in the Alex Raymond tradition.

    The last intriguing attempt at doing something with Flash Gordon that I came across was a Dynamite Comics series about a decade ago that was set in the late 1930s and had Ming conspiring with Hitler. There was a follow up mini-series called “Merciless” which delved into Ming’s backstory. A few years after that Dynamite released some really goofy Flash Gordon comics where Gordon was portrayed as a himbo….oh, well…

  • LouReedRichards says:

    To paraphrase a blog title from Mike a few weeks ago: I’m not a Flash Gordon expert, not even a little bit.

    I don’t follow any daily strips, and was completely unaware of this strip. That said, I have to disagree Sean.You obviously have more knowledge of the different takes on the character, so (as always) I respect your opinion. I like Schultz just fine, and I took a look at the Jim Keefe stuff. I have to disagree, Keefe’s stuff seemed overly cluttered and kind of generic. I think new strip looks absolutely fantastic. It falls firmly in the Timm/Kirby/Seth*/retro-futurist deco style that I love. I get that it might be stylistically different, but isn’t that the point, to shake it up a bit?

    I have a sentimental fondness for the character. The elementary school I went to had little hardback reprint collections of Raymond’s strips, and I absolutely loved them. I consider that my first real exposure to comics.

    Mike – Is it ok to reference Battle Beyond the Stars though, right? That movie was awesome!

    *The Mister X stuff – still stand by it – GREAT stuff!

  • Sean Mageean says:


    I respect your take and enjoyment of the new series–as well as that of everybody else who is reading it. I also thought the Wagner/Schkade The Spirit limited series from Dynamite Comics awhile back wasn’t too bad…though Schkade is no Eisner, either.

    All I meant to convey is that for decades after Raymond left the strip, other artists who were superlative draftsmen– including Mac Raboy, Al Williamson, Dan Barry, and so on–kept Flash Gordon looking more or less realistically drawn and proportional and not cartoony looking. And for all I know Schkade might be a superlative draftsman who just chooses to drawn in a more cartoony, humorous style. I could see him being excellent for a Buzz Lightyear comic strip, for instance.

    I take your point that maybe Keefe’s panels looked crowded, but at least he was going for a quasi-Murphy Anderson sort of style–and even managed to make Flash look like Buster Crabbe, who, of course, portrayed the character in the classic 1930s serials.

    Anyway, that’s cool that a retro-futurist deco style is being utilized. I, too, appreciated Seth’s work on Mr. X –but to me Xaime’s art was the zenith of that particular comic.

    I would liken this a bit to Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer, in that IDW has released several Rocketeer mini-series over the last decade or so, but, most of the art isn’t in the same ballpark as Stevens…with maybe stories that Mike Kaluta and the late, great Russ Heath drew being the exception. One Rocketeer/The Spirit mini-series started out strong with great Paul Smith art on the first two issues. Then, I think it was an artist named Loston Wallace who did an admirable job on the third issue…but the last issue was drawn by J.Bone, who has a completely cartoony style. Again, no offense intended to J. Bone, but his style is almost the complete opposite of Stevens. It was quite an artistic transition to go from Paul Smith to J.Bone in one miniseries. And I suppose that Smith was most likely having trouble meeting deadlines that lead to the merry go round of illustrators. But at least Smith was a nice match for approximating both an Eisner and a Stevens approach to their respective characters–which is admittedly not an easy task.

    So, to those that are digging the new Flash Gordon strip, I’m happy for you and I hope that it lasts for a good, long run …but in the “what if…?” mode of imagination, I can’t help but think, what if Tim Vigil were to draw Flash Gordon…?

    But the main thing is that it is cool that the character is still being brought to life.

    As to Buck Rogers, I believe I read somewhere that he becomes public domain in 2025.

  • Snark Shark says:


    I didn’t even know the strip was still going!

    “wishing for the return of artists who have done them the disfavor of no longer being alive”

    “I”ll get the Necromicon…”

    “Andrew Farago has written an excellent obituary for the late and, needless to say, great Keith Giffen for The Comics Journal.”

    Oh, good! There hadn’t been anything when I looked.

    “Well now it’s a 90 year gap, without a serious rethink it’s impossible to get new fans with a 1930’s aesthetic and ancient pulp storylines.”

    Probably true, though if they can find someone who CAN draw like Alex Raymond, everybody please tell me!

    “As to Buck Rogers, I believe I read somewhere that he becomes public domain in 2025.”

    I wonder if part of this radical redesign is to help secure the future copywrite? If that would even work.

    Oddly enough, I saw the 1980’s FG movie again a few weeks ago!


  • Snark Shark says:

    PS: It was seriously NOT been a good few weeks for ex-sitcom stars. Suzanne Somers, Richard Moll, and then Mathew Perry. GEEZUS.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Snark Shark

    To clarify, it might only be Buck Rogers’ first pulp fiction story that becomes public domain in 2025…I believe he was called Anthony Rogers in that. But I think most of the elements of the early comic strips are featured in that story and tre comic strip started about a year later …it will be intriguing to see what people do with old Buck once he’s free to use.

    I was also thinking that Jerry Ordway would be a good choice to draw a Flash Gordon comic strip in the classic Alex Raymond tradition– as he’s one of the last mainstream comics artists I’m aware of who really honed his craft to a degree of excellence in the tradition of past masters like Wally Wood, etc.,… and he’s paid his dues.

    The Flash Gordon film with Sam Jones is really great! I just stumbled on another comic strip film adaptation with him in it on YouTube the other day…based on the spicy adventures of British WW II character Jane…

  • Snark Shark says:

    Tony Rogers… doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

    “Jerry Ordway”

    he’s GREAT.

  • DK says:

    The “modern Alex Raymond” with detailed tight line work is someone like Gary Frank, and I think he’s busy with other projects.

    But yeah Ordway is a true master and could probably use the work.

    However this is one of the nostalgia trap problems, “Flash Gordon should always be done in the Raymond style” is a problem just like “Fantastic Four should always be done in the Kirby style”.

    Ordway doesn’t draw like Irwin Hansen, and that’s not a problem, his Golden Age characters are gorgeous. Hitch does an incredible FF.

    Also to someone under the age of 30, Raymond looks like 19th Century etchings or Buster Brown art, it’s CLEARLY not contemporary or modern.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Snark Shark

    No, Tony Rogers doesn’t have the same ring to it…but I was thinking that circa 2036, after Steve Rogers Captain America should be in the public domain, somebody could put together a fun time travel story where Cap travels from 1941 into the 25th Century and teams up with Buck Rogers and it is revealed that Steve Rogers is Anthony Rogers’ second cousin or that they are relatives.

    I was also thinking that it could be cool to see someone like Mike Kaluta or John Byrne or Steranko draw their own Buck Rogers one-shot or limited series once the character is in the public domain.

    That Jane film up on YouTube with Sam Jones is called Jane and the Lost City.

  • Bob O says:

    I have been enjoying the new run of Flash Gordon.

  • DavidG says:

    By the time Buck Rogers becomes public domain it will have been just shy of 60 years since the original strip was cancelled. Even the brief, Star Wars inspired, reboot of the strip and tv show will be 45 years in the past by then. It seems hard to believe the name has any value or potential, because it has virtually completely slipped out of the public consciousness. At least Flash Gordon has the Queen song and the campy but dull movie going for him.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @David G

    There were several Buck Rogers comic book limited series within the last decade or so …Dynamite Comics had a go at it, and more recently, I believe it was Hermes Press which ran a Buck Rogers mini-series by Howard Chaykin which was pretty decent.

    I disagree that the name or character doesn’t have any potential or value…there are still Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, and even some Silent Generation folks who actually grew up with and are familiar with the concept of Buck Rogers and its contribution to American Popular Culture and sci-fi culture. Just like Zorro, Tarzan, Conan, and The Shadow, Buck Rogers is part of the pulp fiction mythos. And having the character free up so that various interpretations of it can be created in the very near future could be exhilarating.


    I would frame it less as being a question of a “nostalgia trap” and more one of a “nostalgia celebration” or even one of maintaining a “continuity consistency.”

    Ultimately King Features Syndicate can do whatever they want with the character, but as with modern Marvel and DC Comics it is a fair enough question to ask whether those in charge are being good stewards of classic characters or not.

    I don’t see it as a question of should FF always be done in the Kirby style–though there were Kirby clones, to be sure, including Rich Buckler, who did imitate Kirby–but rather should FF be done in “The House Style” (as in “How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way”), because that way there is quality control and the characters don’t look too off model. So, John Buscema, or John Byrne still drew a great looking FF in “The House Style” without being slavish Kirby immitators.

    But at some point in the past few decades Marvel and DC started letting quality control slip to one degree or another, and there is now quite a lot of off model looking art in their comics–whereas at the height of the Bronze Age there were legions of legendary amazing artists who were all inspiring each other to do excellent work.

    I think that traditionally these high standards applied even more to the syndicated comic strips…one had to be an excellent anatomical artist and draftsman in service to the characters with fidelity to the continuity off the strip and ability to maintain quality control by ensuring that the characters didn’t look too off model. So, Milton Caniff left Terry and the Pirates and George Wundar took over, but it still look d like Terry and The Pirates…or Hal Foster left Tarzan and Burne Hogarth took over, but the strip still looked classically beautiful and fluidly drawn. It was the same deal with Flash Gordon…the new artists brought in continued the flow and were top comic strip artists including Mac Raboy and Dan Barry …they injected their own style, but didn’t go to far off model because there was a time when King Features Syndicate wanted the character to look consistent.

    I suppose that the popularity of cheaply produced animated cartoons, manga, and comics being drawn digitally have all, lamentably, lead to the demise of the classic tradition of beautifully rendered and finely detailed comic strips and comics pages on Bristol board with India ink…oh, well…at least we still have Xaime Hernandez…

    And we can both agree that Jerry Ordway is a true comic book artist master.

  • JohnJ says:

    In a nice coinkidink, the Buck Rogers serial just started running on TCM yesterday, Saturday November 4 after they finished running the Batman & Robin serial previously. It’s Saturday morning at 8:30 Central followed by a Popeye cartoon at 9 AM.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Brad Walker

    That’s great! Thanks for sharing!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “I was also thinking that it could be cool to see someone like Mike Kaluta or John Byrne or Steranko draw their own Buck Rogers”

    I’d vote for Byrne, but I don’t know if he’s still active anymore.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Snark Shark

    Howzabout written and drawn by Byrne…with variant covers by Steranko and Kaluta…

  • DavidG says:

    @ Sean

    With all due respect, a four issue miniseries from a niche publisher 10 years ago (with nothing since even though they had a 5 year license) hardly screams widespread popular awareness. I’m sure that there are some people who know the character name, and that he’s sci-fi, but is that something to spend a lot of money on? I doubt it.

    As Disney found to their cost with John Carter most of the pulp heroes are largely forgotten these days, and if they are remembered it’s more as a line rather than a character: “Me Tarzan, you Jane” “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men”. The last Conan movie bombed, and the last Tarzan movie was less than stellar, and he’s the best remembered of them. When was the last time you saw anything at all with Zorro or the Shadow other than maybe a comic from a small press that only sold in comic book stores?

    None of this is a criticism of the characters, or an attempt to minimize their influence. Like a lot of people on this site I love me some 30s newspaper strips, I’m reading the fantagraphics Captain Easy Sundays at the moment. The pulps and strips of that era were important and popular in their day. But they just don’t have enough value as names any more to be worth the effort.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    I take your point, but as recently as 2020 and 2021 there were announcements from competing production companies about proposed Buck Rogers film projects…one was trying to work with the estate of Buck Rogers’ creator and one of the producers involved had also been a produced the Transformers films and Natural Born Killers; the other was a production company that George Clooney is involved with…so, we will see if anything comes of either of these projects.

    But even the prospect of low budget Buck Rogers films or digital comics once the character becomes public domain is intriguing.

    The John Carter film was actually pretty good and it’s a pity that they didn’t market it better and that it didn’t turn a profit.

    Captain Easy is great…Roy Crane rocks!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Disney/John Carter”

    Warlord of Nothing!

    “The last Conan movie bombed”

    There was another Conan movie?

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Snark Shark

    There was a 2011 Conan the Barbarian film featuring Jason Momoa.

    Yeah, The John Carter film should have been called “John Carter: Warlord of Mars”…or they could have even substituted the word “Barsoom” for Mars.

    They also should have marketed it better as the godfather of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Star Wars–from the man who created Tarzan.

    And Carson of Venus and other E.R.B. properties should be produced as streaming series at the very least.

    But definitely the John Carter film deserved a sequel.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “There was a 2011 Conan the Barbarian film featuring Jason Momoa.”

    Oh, no wonder it tanked.