Bleeding Cool has been following Dave Sim's The Strange Death of Alex Raymond since he first began serialising it in glamorpuss over a decade ago. It was the most interesting project Sim had worked on since Cerebus. Alex Raymond was the creator of Flash Gordon and the comic book investigates both the history of photorealism in comics, specifically the work of Raymond, and the circumstances of his death at the age of 46, in 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette. Which Dave Sim seemed to indicate was not, as the official report would call it, an accident. And that, as a result of his research, he was going to claim that Raymond was murdered.
It was announced in 2013, that IDW Entertainment was to publish the collected The Strange Death of Alex Raymond comic book, annually from June 2016, to be drawn by a new artist Carson Grubaugh, after Sim suffered the loss of control of his hands. A series of Kickstarters, IndieGoGos and Patreons were set up, but Dave Sim was showing extreme doubts as to whether anyone would want to read it. But then, the news came out that the project is being abandoned – with those who donated to the crowdfunded asked if they would mind not asking for a refund, as all the money had been spent. At the time, Dave Sim wrote;
I'm afraid I've had enough. THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND can't be made to happen with 123 people. All the money you paid in is gone, as is the $9K I made selling SDOAR artwork through HA.com, the $16K that came in on CAN8 (I'm still paying off the $4.7K shipping bill) and what was left of the JAKA'S STORY REMASTERED money. I'm back to borrowing against my life insurance to pay bills. And, personally, making about $350 US a month.
But it has refused to die. And now, new comics publisher Living The Line is to publish The Strange Death of Alex Raymond as a graphic novel, coming to comic stores in July and bookstores in August.
Dave Sim completed 180 pages of this 320-page volume by himself, between 2012 and 2015, with Carson Grubaugh continuing afterward. Last year, Sim gave Grubaugh permission to publish the entirety of the work, with a newly-created conclusion by Grubaugh. "SDOAR is the work of an apex-level-creator doing the best work he has ever done, an absolute master-class in the potential of the medium," says Grubaugh. "The thought that it might never see the light of day tortured me. That I somehow get to be the guy to wrap it up and bring it to the market is totally baffling. "
The Strange Death of Alex Raymond will be available as a deluxe oversized hardback in July.