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Part Two

The next major development would coincide with a new interest of Americans in the twentieth century. After the industrial age came the scientific age. In 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a science fiction novel that appeared in the All Story magazine entitled "Under the Moons of Mars". Later published as the Princess of Mars the story gave birth to scores of other stories of the fantastic and by 1927 a magazine arose to revolutionize American literature, called "Amazing Stories". Burroughs also created another character in 1912 that is another one of our mythical twentieth century figures - Tarzan.

"Amazing Stories Magazine" from it's inception proved to be a popular success. In the February 1928 issue appeared a story called "Armageddon 2419 A.D." by Phillip Nowlan. One reader, John Flint Dille, a comic strip syndicator liked the story so much he bought the rights and hired an artist named Richard Calkins to illustrate a comic strip. And so the next major development of the comic strip had taken place.

On January 7, 1929 the story was renamed to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D, and from the moment that Buck Rogers made his debut appearance as a comic strip he was an immediate hit and an unparalleled success! Buck was a war aviator trapped in a cave and overcome by a gas that puts him into suspended animation. Buck awakens 500 years in the future to a devastated America overcome by Mongolian armies, led by the morally bankrupt Killer Kane. Buck takes up with the rebels to fight the Mongols and with the beautiful Wilma and Dr.Huer begins a never ending battle to recapture the Americas.

Also appearing for the first time on January 7, 1929 was the Tarzan comic strip illustrated by the enormously talented and now legendary Harold Foster who would later create Prince Valiant. Tarzan would be immensely popular in the strips, but Foster left the strip in late 1929 to pursue a career in illustration, and Tarzan would be illustrated by Rex Maxon until Foster returned as the Sunday strip artist while Maxon drew the daily strip.

It was not long before another innovation hit the strips. It was in the guise of a trench coated, square jawed police detective that became one of the most popular characters in the history of the strips would hit the scene. His name was "Dick Tracy" and he appeared for the first time in October 1931.

The square jawed detective was the visage of the unimpeachable cop, and he always got his man. But a more interesting bent to this strip was apparent. The villains that populated Tracy's world were the largest collection of social misfits ever to appear in print. Flattop, the Brow, Mole, Pruneface, the Pouch and scores of others, they were Nazi spies, cruel sadists, mob hitmen and saboteurs. These villains were the direct ancestors of the super villain in comics.

By now the depression was in full swing, and these strips were one of the many ways that Americans made their "escape" from the drudgery of daily life. Also at this time the publishers and editors of America's newspapers could not have missed the popularity of serialized comic strips. The resulting influence of this factor was an explosion of adventure and sci-fi strips.

In 1932 Roy Crane gave Wash Tubbs main character Captain Easy his own strip appearing on Sundays, the daily was still called Wash Tubbs for a short while longer and in 1934 another legendary character would make his historic debut.

Flash Gordon was just a soccer player returning home on an airplane when the plane was knocked out of the sky by an errant fragment of a giant meteor flying through space towards the Earth. Crash landing in a field, Flash and another passenger, Dale Arden (the only survivors?) find their way to a nearby laboratory where they are forced at gunpoint by the resident scientist Dr.Zarkov to accompany him in his experimental rocket ship to save the Earth by crashing the rocket into the meteor!

When Zarkov is overpowered by Flash, the rocket continues through space landing on Planet Mongo, where it is discovered that the meteor was sent toward the Earth by the sadistic dictator Ming, ruler of Mongo and Flash becomes forever locked in battle with the villain to save Earth from the despot leader of Planet Mongo.

At the same time that Flash Gordon is fighting on Mongo, another great step in the development of the comic medium is making it's birth back on Earth. It would be an entirely new format, and it would help to revolutionize the medium. They would call it a comic book.....

A Pictorial History of Sequential Art from Cave painting to Spider-Man

The History of Comic Art

A Chronological History of Comic Art in America

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