About Alexander Gillespie Raymond
American cartoonist Alex Raymond was best known for creating Flash Gordon for King Features in 1934. The strip was subsequently adapted into many other media, from a series of movie serials (1936–1940) to a 1970s television series and a 1980 film.
He was born Alexander Gillespie Raymond on October 2, 1909 in New Rochelle, New York, the son of Beatrice Wallazz (née Crossley) and Alexander Gillespie Raymond. His father was a civil engineer and road builder who encouraged his son's love of drawing from an early age, even "covering one wall of his office in the Woolworth Building" with his young son's work. After the death of his father when he was 12, he felt that perhaps there was not as viable a future in art as he had hoped and attended Iona Prep on an athletic scholarship.
Raymond's first job was as "an order clerk in Wall Street". In the wake of the 1929 economic crisis, he "enrolled in the Grand Central School of Art in New York City" and began working as a solicitor for a mortgage broker. Approaching former neighbor Russ Westover, Raymond soon quit his job and by 1930 was assisting on Westover's Tillie the Toiler, through which Raymond was "introduced to [the] King Features Syndicate", where he became a staff artist and for which he would produce his greatest work.
From late 1931 to 1933, Raymond assisted Lyman Young on Tim Tyler's Luck, eventually becoming the ghost artist in "1932 and 1933... [on] both the daily strip and the Sunday page", turning it "into one of the most eye-catching strips of the time". Concurrently, Raymond assisted Chic Young on Blondie.
In 1933, King Features assigned him to do the art for an espionage action-adventure strip, Secret Agent X-9, scripted by novelist Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond's illustrative approach to that strip made him King Features' leading talent.
Towards the end of 1933, King Features asked him to create a Sunday page that could compete with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a popular science-fiction adventure strip that had debuted in 1929 and already spawned the rival Brick Bradford in 1933. According to King Features, syndicate president Joe Connolly "gave Raymond an idea ... based on fantastic adventures similar to those of Jules Verne". Alongside ghostwriter Don Moore, a pulp-fiction veteran, Raymond created the visually sumptuous science-fiction epic comic strip Flash Gordon. Before long, Flash was the more popular strip of the two.
Raymond also worked on the jungle adventure saga Jungle Jim and spy adventure Secret Agent X-9 concurrently with Flash, though his increasing workload caused him to leave Secret Agent X-9 to another artist by 1935. He left the strips in 1944 to join the Marines, saw combat in the Pacific Ocean theater in 1945 and was demobilized in 1946. Upon his return from serving during World War II, Raymond created and illustrated the much-heralded Rip Kirby, a private detective comic strip.
In 1956, Raymond was killed in a car crash at the age of 46; he was survived by his wife and five children.