Friday, May 8, 2009

Flash Gordon and My Father

My late father, God rest him, absolutely ADORED the Flash Gordon serials.

The original ones, from the 1930s. When he was a kid, even though those serials were already a good 10-15 years old, they were still playing in local cinemas as matinees and he could also hear them on radio. Being that "old" as a media product wasn't the unforgiveable sin back then that it is today.

My father's love for them encapsulated his whole red-blooded value system, which is the value system I inherited from him, as all good fathers pass to their sons.

He loved the stories, he loved the science fiction speculation, he loved the swashbuckling optimism and the heroic adventures. Although he never seemed to show it in other ways he was a great fan of pulp fiction (as long as it wasn't gratuitously obscene or too luridly violent) and his massive fancrush on science fiction led me to follow in his footsteps. One of the heartbreaks of his declining years for both of us was the death of the sort of science fiction types we'd read through our lives, to be replaced by pablum and "franchise" books, barely worthy of the name of book itself.

But in Flash Gordon, in all media, Dad found the apogee of his delight, and for many years so did I. Dan Dare had his moments, as did many other sub-Flash heroes and heroines... But Flash was truly Emperor of the Universe.

Dad loved the women in Flash Gordon too- and he was quite correct in his judgment. There have been stunning women portraying the characters over the decades- from the original ingenues to the smoldering Ornella Muti and beyond.

I never got to find out what Dad thought of the Rocketeer, but I imagine its basic type of story would have appealed to him and I know the incredible art of Dave Stevens would have amused and captivated him too.

For my father- my somewhat respectful and hopefully humorous parody-adventure of Flash Gordon is respectfully dedicated to you, Dad. I love you. And I still miss you so much.