Alex Raymond: His Life and Art Hardcover – 12 Feb 2008
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Complete with a foreword by George Lucas and an introduction by famed artist James Bama, "Alex Raymond: His Life and Art" delves deep into the history and work of this internationally famous artist, showcasing never-before-known facts and art that transcended the confines of a comic strip page and make him more than the renowned artist of Flash Gordon.
Top Customer Reviews
It's very thorough, there's a huge amount of text and there is a lot of his stuff here. If you want to know the details of Raymond's life then it's pretty much all here (I'm sure his shoe size, inside leg measurement and favourite brand of coffee must be all in there somewhere). Unfortunately, as with every publication that ever features his work, the reproductions are, for the most part, microscopically small.
There is a section with a step-by-step guide on how Flash Gordon was drawn, which is fascinating. Personally I think some of his best works were his paintings of the armed forces, which saw him moving towards more of a realist style. These are featured with some decent size reproductions.
Everyone's heard of Flash Gordon but yet Raymond himself barely ever gets mentioned - try finding any other collections of his work (apart from the even smaller "Profili" book) or any posters and you'll get nowhere.
Hope someone else buys this book anyway, I don't want to be a lone voice in the wilderness....
A great deal of this stuff I didn't know existed nor did I know the range of the man until this book arrived. I didn't know he did Varga(s) type pin-up work for instance.
I'm so impressed that the work is of such a high standard plus it's not just the stuff we might have expected to see and therefore already have.
Paper quality could be better - it's glossy and printed well - just a little flimsy (read it at a desk is my recommendation).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I soldiered on, though, and found that Tom Roberts is certainly an expert on all things Raymond. Only when his story has to touch on other creators and comics does his expertise take a serious fall. In fact Roberts is such a Raymond fanatic that his devotion to the subject ends up being the real source of the project's undoing. The book is chock full of rare Raymond artwork, but that material is presented in lieu of long loving looks at "Flash Gordon", "Secret Agent X-9" and "Rip Kirby" art, the sort of material that this reader presumed would be given more play in a Raymond bio. We do get some material from all those strips, of course, but the book is chock full of all manner of oddball Raymond work -- movie poster designs, pulp illustrations, ad campaigns, etc. It comes across as if the author is trying to impress us with the breadth of his Raymond collection which, don't get me wrong, is indeed astounding. The sense that the book was put together by a Raymond collecting wonk is highlighted when the author occasionally switches to first-person commentary explaining just how rare such-and-such an item is and how many eyeteeth collectors would gladly trade for it. Nowhere is that wonkish attitude more vividly apparent than with an utterly pointless two page sidebar detailing how an auction house approached the author to authenticate an unsigned painting as being the work of Raymond.
Some of Raymond's rare artwork could just as well have stayed under wraps, too. For instance, we get fourteen pages of art from the juvenile book "Scuttle Watch", and another ten from an insurance ad campaign. In neither case did Raymond produce particularly distinguished work (at least by his lofty standard), so I would have much rather seen a few representative images from those venues and allotted some of that space for more of Raymond's best works. Roberts has the collector's myopia -- his devotion to Raymond leads him to focus more on minutiae than on what made Raymond famous.
And speaking of minutiae, a fifty page chapter detailing Raymond's service in World War II is enough to test the patience of even the most devoted reader. Raymond served on the U.S.S. Gilbert Islands, an aircraft carrier that I now know in such intimate detail that if I materialized on its deck I could find the mess hall blindfolded. I dutifully read the whole chapter, a feat few will or should attempt, and got treated to a detailing of that ship's activities that might be fine military history but goes ridiculously far afield from telling the story of Raymond's life. Here's a taste: "The Gilbert Islands was an escort carrier of the CVE 105 Commencement Bay class. With a displacement of 23,200 tons, she carried a 28-foot draft. Not as big as her sister carriers of the Essex class, the Commencement Bay class had a flight deck spanning 500 feet..." etc., etc., ad infinitum. Look, If I wanted an exhaustive history of the Gilbert Islands I'd buy one. Any competent editor would have slashed this chapter by 30 pages without losing anything of Raymond's story.
It's hard to imagine that a book so lovingly produced, about one of the greatest cartoonist/illustrators of the twentieth century, could fall so far short of what it could and should have been. And yet, even though the book is flawed in a whole variety of ways, I still have to give it a pass. Even a cocktail napkin doodle by Raymond is worth a look, and so a whole book chock full of his art, despite the questionable choices made in the selection, is a joy to behold. And since this is the most complete biography we're ever likely to have of the great penman it's a book that, flaws and all, deserves a place on any fan's bookshelf.
PS -- for those keeping score, "Buck Rogers" was syndicated by John Dille, "When Mother Was a Girl" was the topper of "Dumb Dora", and Chic Young's first syndicated comic strip was "The Affairs of Jane".
Sophistication, elegance, imagination. A rare cocktail, but one Alex Raymond mixed throughout his life. With the publication of this book, the world will be able to stand at the bar Raymond set so high and throwback his genius as long and as hard as they like. I've been driving under the influence of Raymond for some 40 odd years. Now the full breadth of his talent will be available in a book covering his entire amazing career.
Eisner Award-winning artist/creator, Hard Boiled, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot; Conceptual Designer, "The Matrix" triology
At last we have in hand the book that Alex Raymond has long deserved, and that we have longed for-a stunning look at the breadth of the man's fluid graphic skills and consummate artistry. Raymond drew far more than just comic strips and he proved himself a master at every aspect of the illustrative arts.
Eisner Award-winning artist/writer.creator, Xenozoic Tales, "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs"
Early on in my career, I was much more aware of the work of Alex Raymond than that of Hal Foster. Tom Roberts' celebration of Alex Raymond is a book you can't wait to get your hands on.
Eisner Award-winning artist, Prince Valiant, Savage Tales of Solomon Kane