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Flashback to a comic icon

Editor helped Cleveland cartoonist create Flash Gordon strip

POSTED: September 1, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Flash Gordon, the comic book hero who had various adventures on the planet Mongo and conquered the universe at least one time in his fictional history, has ties to Cleveland.

For decades, the superhero's comic strip was illustrated by the late Daniel Barry, who worked on the strip while living in Cleveland from 1951 to 1990.

Barry's colorist, Gail Beckett, who inked, edited and provided creativity to the strip, will present a lecture on the work of comic strip artists and her experience Sept. 1 at the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Cleveland.

"Probably near the latter part of his work is when Gail was working with him," said Judy Lovell, president of the White County Historical Society. "She'll have some of the original story boards of his work, and be able to shed some light just on his life in general and what it was like to be a comic strip artist."

Originally drawn by Alex Raymond and first published in 1934, Flash Gordon has been the subject of live action and cartoon TV shows, radio shows and movies.

Director Breck Eisner is in the process of creating a Flash Gordon movie, set to premiere in 2012, although he has yet to announce the cast.

Eleven other illustrators took the helm of the comic strip at various times after Raymond stopped working on it in 1943, but Barry illustrated the strip longer than any other artist in his 39-year stint.

Lovell said she was surprised to find out Barry was a Cleveland resident.

"Doing White County History and trying to locate people for programs in our county, it was interesting to me to learn that he lived in Cleveland and did a lot of his work right here," she said.


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