Flash Gordon is an enduring and wholly American superhero. It was originally a comic strip drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip. Flash is a Yale polo player who is thrust into an interplanetary conflict with the evil emperor Ming. With a premise like that, Flash Gordon was bound to be a success.
The immediate commercial success of the comic strip by Alex Raymond was quickly followed up with this pop-up book published by Blue Ribbon Books in 1935. The first pop-up is the marriage feast Ming holds for Flash and his to-be bride, Dale Arden. The Second is Emperor Ming arriving at the Tournament of Death in his chariot, pulled by tigers, of course. The third pop-up is Flash and the masked Prince Barin clashing on their horses in said tournament.
If you’re looking for the classic signs of mid-century comic book stories, this is a great place to start. All the elements of comic books are here: a sincere battle between good and evil, the over-muscular and libido-heavy superhero, a scantily-clad damsel in distress. Of course, extended and dramatic fight scenes complete with lances tipped with flaming radium only add to the story. This fantastic storyline ends with Flash being named King and the beautiful Dale, his queen.
Please take the time to view the pdf of the book to read the entire story–it really is a great read! Aside from the 3 pop-ups, there are 18 pages of the storyline and many beautiful illustrations.
This vintage pop-up book is a gem not only because it’s in great shape, but because it’s a window into the beginning of the American love story with superheroes and the media used to tell their stories.