The Fall of Ming is part, the last part, of the Complete Flash Gordon Library. Put together from Alex Raymond’s material and published by Titan this is a fantastic coffee table book and still a wonderful read.
It’s a large book. That’s one of the reasons I use the phrase “coffee table” to describe it. I read it with it balanced over my knee, became so absorbed that I read through The Fall of Ming in a single go and then ached when I tried to stand back up. Be smarter than me; put the book on the coffee table. Equally, this is a book that will impress visiting guests. This is a book that makes a great gift.
Having the book gives you access to about 200 pages of digitally re-mastered and restored art (thanks to Pete Maresca). It’s worth reading the introduction by Dave Gibbons. It’s an easy read and makes it very clear just how important Alex Raymond’s style is – Gibbons claims that this comic book illustrator was the artist who influenced DC Comics’ house style.
Gibbons also makes the point that this book is a case study in retro futurism. Contained within these pages are images of what creative thinkers in the 1940 thought the future would be like. Forget the simple lines and style that the likes of Apple promote; in this sci-fi vision we’ve got tubes, knobs and arching electricity.
I also enjoyed soaking in the differences in presentation style. It’s common for the text in these old comic strips to tell you what’s happening. This allows the plot to speed along and must have suited syndication via newspapers. That contrasts greatly to the common style of today to draw what’s happening, only write the dialogue, and progress the scenes more slowly.
A quick rummage on the net found some samples from the pages but these graphics don’t do justice to the “holding the book” experience. In that respect a big nod to Titan for the physical quality of the book. It’s not heavy but it feels robust. This doesn’t feel like a fragile archive rescued from a library, this feels like a collectible investment.
Disclaimer: My copy of the book was provided for review.