That “a while back” was 90 years ago today.
On January 7, 1934 King Features Syndicate introduced two new comics pages to the Hearst and other subscribing newspapers. One of the pages was by an established cartoonist with over twenty years of experience. The other page was drawn by an unknown artist who had spent the past couple years as an art assistant to the Young brothers (Tim Tyler’s Luck, Blondie) and as a cog in the King Features bullpen.
Way Out West by Vic Forsythe, who had gained fame for his Joe Jinks comic strip, would not make it past 1936, while Flash Gordon by newcomer Alex Raymond, with Don Moore scripting, celebrates 90 years of newspaper stardom today.
Running up to their debuts the syndicate knew which of the strips held promise and promoted accordingly.
Flash Gordon would go on to fame and fortune becoming as synonymous with space fiction as Buck Rogers who had appeared as a comic strip exactly five years earlier on January 7, 1929. (The Jungle Jim topper strip also appeared exactly five years after its inspiration, Tarzan, had debuted as a comic strip. Jungle Jim would continue to 1954 as a comic strip and longer in comic books.)
In 2003 the Flash Gordon comic strip would enter a kind of hibernation as it went into rerun mode, though it continued to appear in newspapers through both King Features and their Weekly Service division.
Then, as the 90th anniversary neared, King Features began featuring all-new daily and Sunday adventures of Flash and Dale (yes, and Hans) as depicted by Dan Schkade who has garnered nothing but praise for his version in this Great Revival.
For those who did not read the early Flash Gordon in their youth or have not read any of the many book collections ERBzine presents the better part of the first year of the Flash Gordon comic strip from 90 years ago.