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Alex Raymond: His Life and Art Hardcover – 12 Feb 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Adventure House (12 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886937788
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886937789
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 30.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 923,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

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.

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Format: Hardcover
Why has this incredible artist slipped under the radar for so long? I've been waiting for years for a collection of his work like this to be published but I'm still a little bit disappointed with this.

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....
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On amazaon.com some of the reviewers are complaining not enough Flash or Rip but to me that's a positive. Any fan of Mr Raymond is likely to have collections of those things already so the fact this books concentrates on his 'other' art is great.

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).

RobSm1th
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive but Flawed Book 10 Dec. 2008
By Allan Holtz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The warning bells started going off not long after I opened this eagerly anticipated book. On page four the author tells us that the "Buck Rogers" strip was syndicated by NEA. Then a few pages later he tells us that "When Mother Was a Girl" was the topper to "Blondie" and that "Dumb Dora" was Chic Young's first syndicated strip. These errors aren't exactly earthshaking I suppose, but such details, all of which could have easily been fact-checked, don't speak well for the quality of the research that went into this book.

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".
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly a labor of love 14 Sept. 2008
By Michael D. Fraley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To begin with, this is a beautiful book. No doubt about it - for the most part the graphic design of the book is really outstanding, other than the fact that sometimes it was difficult to understand where to find the caption that went with a particular photo. As far as pure content goes, in addition to what you'd expect (pages/panels from Raymond's comic art), there's also an equal emphasis on his illustration work, pin-ups, etc. We are also treated to extremely rare material, such as Raymond's colour guides - done in watercolour on small reproductions of his Flash Gordon pages. Raymond's assistant on Rip Kirby gives us a run-down on the kinds of brushes, pens, paper, etc. that Raymond used, and we even get to see a Flash Gordon panel "ghosted" by Austin Briggs in which Raymond wisely re-drew Flash's face. As far as the book's shortcomings go, there are some curious omissions. Roberts describes the initial, rejected version of the Flash Gordon strip when he could have simply reprinted the art - it saw print in the comics fanzine Alter Ego in 2005 or 2006. In a book chock full of Raymond rarities, that strip would have been a natural to include. There are tons of great photos of Alex, but I also would have liked to have seen more photos of Raymond's wife and children. In some ways I think that the material in the book could have been arranged a bit differently so as to give it a more natural "flow," but I can fully understand the challenge of trying to organize and juggle such a huge amount of stuff. All in all, this book is the sort of work that I have been wanting to get my hands on for 30+ years. Thanks to Tom Roberts, thanks to Adventure House, and thanks to everyone involved in making this possible.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Raymond book you're waiting for 26 Mar. 2008
By iorek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book has a lot of little known, eccentric material about Raymond-- his Christmas card drawings and his design for his country club menu that you would never see any other way, but it does not begin to cover his major achievements such as Flash Gordon adequately (very little reproduced from original art). The author clearly adores Raymond, which is to his credit, but he sometimes loses perspective. For example, I could do without the author's two page discussion of the unresolved authenticity of a drawing done for a movie ad by either Raymond or Austin Briggs, recounting the details of the author's phone calls with an auction house . I wish he had replaced it with more of what makes Raymond great. This, combined with the thin, inferior quality paper and cheap binding, and the odd design (what's with the unnecessary blue stripes on each page?) suggests that the definitive Raymond book is still to be written.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Artist - A Complete History - One Complete Book 4 Mar. 2008
By John P. Gunnison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Alex Raymond: His Life and Art by Tom Roberts. See what the professionals say about the book:

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.

Geofrey Darrow
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.

Mark Schultz
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.

Gary Gianni
Eisner Award-winning artist, Prince Valiant, Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alex Raymond, His life & Art 29 Feb. 2008
By Harry F. Christen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just received the book and in the process of going through it I was very impressed with its content. It was more than I had anticipated. It has been a long wait in having it published. In my youth I followed most of his comic strips and served aboard the USS GILBERT ISLANDS during WWII. Mr. Raymond was a Marine Corp. Captain and I had the privledge of meeting him casually in the Executive Officer's Office of the ship. I had always admired his art work and now I know the rest of the story of his life.
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