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Exclusive: Jeff Parker celebrates 80 years of Flash Gordon in new book

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Contributing Editor
created 01/21/2014 - 7:58am, updated 01/23/2014 - 8:42pm

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On the advent of his 80th birthday, pulp science fiction hero Flash Gordon will be zooming from the pages of Kings Watch to his own ongoing comic.

To discover the details behind this move by comic book publisher Dynamite Entertainment, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively caught the first spaceship to Mongo to talk with the writer of the new book, coming in April, Jeff Parker.

Cosmic Book News: Jeff, how exciting does it feel to be putting out a book on sci-fi hero Flash Gordon on the advent of his 80th birthday -- AND Dynamite’s 10th anniversary?

Jeff Parker: It’s pretty great, what a perfect confluence of landmarks. It’s all really coming together.

CBN: Jeff, as a writer, where do you begin to search for your inspiration for such a story as Flash Gordon #1? Old comics, the early movie serials, the lampoon movie or elsewhere?

Jeff Parker: I’m not even sure, I feel like I’m synthesizing all of it then picking my favorite bits and filling in with whatever my subconscious gives up. Except for the SyFy series, that didn’t look so good to me. 

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CBN: And Jeff Parker got attached to this august project in what way?

Jeff Parker: Nate Cosby asked me once he joined Dynamite, without knowing that I’ve had an idea for how to handle Flash lodged in the back of my head for years. 

CBN: What can you tell us about the awesome story that will return the Man from Earth to comics?

Jeff Parker: It picks up right out of Kings Watch, which will make sense at the end of KW #5. But if you begin only with Flash Gordon #1, you won’t be lost, his time on Mongo begins right then.

CBN: Who of Flash's old cast will we see? Any new supporting characters or droids?

Jeff Parker: Well of course he pulled Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov along. At first we’re going to see Prince Barin, of Arboria. And a lion fellow.

CBN: I know it might seem incredible, but for those who are unfamiliar with this hero tell us a little bit about your interpretation of Flash Gordon. How is Jeff Parker's Flash unique?

Jeff Parker: Going back to the idea lodged in my head -- my take is essentially that Flash is a jack of all-trades rich boy adventurer who almost doesn’t fit in on Earth. He’s a champ at archaic sports like polo and fencing, and excels at mountain climbing, swimming …anything that you can’t make much of a career at, Flash is the master of. It drives his father nuts, because he wanted Flash to take over his role in Gordon Enterprises. 

But once Flash gets to Mongo, suddenly he is THE MAN. Every territory is made for him, riding monster steeds with an energy-charged sword, that is what he was born to do! And his reputation precedes him fast -- and enrages Ming. 

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CBN: When readers get through with this first issue of Flash Gordon, they should feel ... what? 

Jeff Parker: Tired and exhilarated. 

CBN: How long into the arc will it take for Ming to rear his ugly head?

Jeff Parker: About five pages!

CBN: What does artist Evan Shaner bring to the table?

Jeff Parker: EVERYTHING! Everything about Evan’s art and what he likes to draw fits and drives this story. It is going to be one of the purest embraces of the comics medium you’ll see this year. With Evan’s first sketch of Flash, he absolutely nailed him. You love the character immediately. His sense of design is perfect for it. 

Our Flash is a really positive guy, he loves these wild experiences. To show a character that way and be convincing is harder than it looks, and Evan does it very naturally. Typically the approach is to go darker and more serious when doing a new version, but I feel it’s done to death, and it doesn’t work for every book. The danger in this book is serious enough, and our hero stands out because of it. 

CBN: Jeff, any other projects present or future would you like to discuss?

Jeff Parker: Well, when you order this, you should probably also have it put in a file with Aquaman and Batman ’66, just saying.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jeff Parker for answering our questions during his busy schedule. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s Nick Barrucci who helped make this interview possible.

“Flash Gordon” #1 hits stores in April!

 

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