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Page history last edited by Arthur Lortie 9 years, 4 months ago

FLASH GORDON 1954-1955


The Tom Sawyer [nee Scheuer] credits from Jerry Bails' Who's Who Of American Comic Books lists Tom ghosting the syndicated daily FLASH GORDON, both pencils and inks around 1954 for "a few weeks" 


An email from Tom on June 8, 2008 amends this slightly:


Yeah, '54 or perhaps most likely "55 sounds about right. I'd gotten married in '54, was living in Jackson Heights, and had my friend Pete Friedman pose for Polaroids, with, I recall, my wife holding up the corners of a sheet we'd put on him to simulate a cape.


Some activities for Tom and his bride can be traced in 1955 and give hints when he may or may not have worked on the strip:


The February 14, 1955 Troy [New York] Times Record reports:






A later article corrects the address to 33-34 77th Street, Jackson Heights, and Tom adds that he served in Korea, and not World War II.


[Other public records at this time also report that the couple returned from Bermuda on March 8,1955, but that was a different Tom Scheuer.]


The Troy [New York] Times Record has the Sawyers visiting her parents in Troy, New York, on both July 16th and December 23rd, 1955.


Others who assisted primary artist Dan Barry on FLASH GORDON art in 1954 and 1955 include Leonard Starr, Al Williamson, Sam Burlockoff, Sy Barry, Carmine Infantino and Russ Heath. During this time period, Dan was hospitalized briefly for depression and took a short trip to Italy, leaving Sy to coordinate the strip on both occasions. Sy usually used artists and writers he worked next to at DC Comics.


For reference, I located a drawing by Tom that appeared in the May 30, 1953 Stars and Stripes:




A romance cover from June, 1956:



and some syndicated work from Family Weekly from 1964 1nd 1965:








Its easy to see where Neal Adams, who followed Tom on Bell Laboraties ads that ran in Boys' Life, got some of his stylistic tics from. Tom adds:  "Neal and I never worked together on anything. I had desk-space at Johnstone & Cushing when he was breaking in, and we got along famously. Precocious and feisty. Clearly a guy who was destined for an interesting career."


The FLASH GORDON storylines that appeared in 1954 and 1955 are:


October 26, 1953 to March 20, 1954 The Lost Continent

     Summary: Fishing in the Bahamas, Flash, Dale and Zarkov discover a strange ship filled with gold -- and

          Neanderthals from Atlantis [!!]. They find Atlantis ruled by the tyrant Noachim.

     Notes: Dan Barry had attended the Fan-Vet Conference in April, 1953, a gathering of science fiction

          writers and editors, and it had clearly inspired a the speculative discussion Flash and friends

          engage in early in the storyline. Most of the early fishing scenes are by Brick Bradford artist Paul

          Norris. Most of the adventure in Atlantis resembles the Flash's early adventures, with a tournament

          [this time underwater], a conniving princess and giant clawed monsters. Bob Kanigher scripting after

          our heroes reach Atlantis.


March 22, 1954 to May 29, 1954 Circea

     Summary: Flash and Dale are mysteriously sent through space to a distant planet by a lovestruck sorceress,

          whose powers come from the inventions of her father, Thorlin. Her plans are interupted by the escaped

          prisoner, Jiro.

     Notes: Another bizarre Bob Kanigher plot, though there seems to be continued swiping of ideas between Dan

          Barry and DC Comics -- the floating people idea gets reused by Julie Schwartz and Carmine Infantino in

          the May, 1955 issue of Strange Adventures:

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10




May 31, 1954 to August 30, 1954 The Deadly Touch

     Summary: Everything Flash touches gets destroyed, the result of an accident. He banishes himself into space,

          where he discovers aliens from the planet Horokko hidden on the moon firing destructive pellets toward earth.

     Notes: Many scenes from this story were reworked by Sam Burlockoff for a Flash Gordon coloring book in 1958.

          This appears to be from a Bob Kanigher script, and continues from events in the previous story.before taking

          an abrupt turn to feature an alien invasion force defeated by Flash and his super-powers.

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10     Week 11     Week 12     Week 13     Week 14


August 31, 1954 to November 13, 1954 Peril Park

     Summary: Flash finds an SOS in a bottle from a woman named Elda -- from the year 2554! Using Dr. Zarkov's

          new time machine, he finds a devastated earth and that Elda is a lookalike for Dale.

     Notes: This is a Bob Kanigher story reusing plot devices from his work on DC Comics' Wonder Woman,

          including the time machine; lots of action, with gators and sharks, a German luger and a killer named Moko.

          This story is also incredibly short -- it started on a Tuesday and ran only 11 weeks rather than the standard

          12-13, and ends abruptly. But the art -- especially those double panels are exceptional.

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10     Week 11


November 15, 1954 to February 05, 1955 The Martian Baby

     Summary: Flash and Dale find a flying saucer containing an infant that turns out to be a Martian prince

          named Hanro. His older sister Zora had sent him to earth to protect him from his uncle, Duke

          Tazzid, overlord of Ruuvia [Tazzid's appearence is clearly based on Ming the Mercilous].

     Notes: Both the spacecraft designs and the villain are swiped from early Alex Raymond strips; the

          inking looks like Sam Burlockoff or Sy Barry; story is by Bob Kanigher; Tazzid wears a cape

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10     Week 11     Week 12


February 07, 1955 to April 26, 1955 The Trail of the Vulke

     Summary:  Flash is given a surprise birthday party by Dale and the Space Kids, and they decide to

          visit Mr. Pennington and Cyril on Zorania. The people there are endangered by a white wolf called

          the Vulke.

     Notes: the spaceship looks like a sleeker version of the X-1 rocketplane; there is a bearded blind seer

          with a staff named Oculo resembling Moses and a flying horse. Although this story, minus a couple

          of SF elements, could easily be a Phantom, Jungle Jim or even a Lone Ranger story, its plotted

          much more tightly than those before it.

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10     Week 11     Week 12


April 27, 1955 to July 09, 1955 Tympani

      Summary: Strange events, all related to sound, are occuring all over the earth. They discover its the

          work of composer Egon Blant, who went mad and disappeared years earlier, now seeking revenge.

     Notes: Blant wears a cape; there's a plump sidekick named Jazzbeau who speaks like Kookie on 77

          Sunset Strip ["hey, daddi-o"]; story is likely by Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman. Dan apparently

          had a fondness for this story -- the villain's name is reused a decade later for the recurring time

          traveller introduced in "The Hapless Alien”, running 05/27/1963 to 11/09/1963]; and several

          sequences have a strong resemblance to those in the Harry Harrison scripted "Martian Treasure”

          [11/11/1963 to 02/22/1964] that immediately followed. The artwork, except for panels here and there,

          seems to be pure Dan Barry Studios, and even reuses character designs from DC Comics's Johnny

          Quick stories that Dan worked on. [see below]

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10     Week 11


July 11, 1955 to September 03, 1955 Starling

      Summary: Crippled B. B. Remsen, the world's largest rocket manufacturer, offers Flash a million

           dollars to reform his spoiled daughter Starling. Her antics trap her and Flash on a planet that is

          home to a lost, stranded pilot named Jan Steel, who has lost a leg.

     Notes: story is by Sid Jacobson, creator of Richie Rich; the spaceship is a V-wing; story includes an

          attack by a giant gila monster; the art at the end of the story is different from the beginning, with

          Remsen losing his wheelchair and getting noticably younger; Jan Steel is named after a Dan Barry

          assistant, Jan Sand; some panels look like Mike Sekowsky pencils

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08


September 06, 1955 to October 29, 1955 Space Circus

      Summary: Another flying saucer [this time the finned version typically associated with Wally Wood

          or Gil Kane] kidnaps Flash and its antenaed aliens from the planet Mesmo place Flash in an

          interstellar circus. Others in the circus are Hukko, a Hawkman from Mongo; Dr. Manimo from

          Anterra [who resembles Edgar Rice Burroughs four armed Martians], the monkey-man Groz

          from the tree-kingdom of Primeva, and strongman Hugar [swiped from an Austin Briggs Blue

          Book illustration].

     Notes: looks like some combination of Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry to me; many, many capes

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08


October 31, 1955 to December 31, 1955 The Swamp Girl 

      Summary: Zara, from the swamp planet Malagua, tries to kill Dr. Zarkov. But she turns out to be his

          daughter from a mission in the time before he met Flash and Dale, when Zarkov accidently landed

          on the planet Elgon.

     Notes: there is a black panther named Octavio and other swamp creatures; the rocket design is the

          same V-wing from two stories ago

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09


January 02, 1956 to February 24, 1956 Return to Mongo

      Summary: Flash retells his first adventure to the Space Kids, whose membership now includes Zara.

          Psychic kid Worriless Willie teleports them to Mongo, attracting the attention of old foe, Queen

          Azura, who has teamed with Ming's lookalike son.

     Notes: several old friends reappear, including Prince Barin and Vultan the Hawkman. The writer comes up

          with a new version of how Mongo avoided colliding with Earth, and introduces Ming II. Zarkov's daughter

          joins the Space Kids. A great adventure in the Don Moore traditionly style.

     Week 01     Week 02     Week 03     Week 04     Week 05     Week 06     Week 07

     Week 08     Week 09     Week 10     Week 11     Week 12



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