Flash Gordon #5, May 1967

Sadly, this was the end of the line for Al Williamson on King Features’ Flash Gordon title. Shortly after this he became the full time artist on the Secret Agent x-9 daily newspaper strip, which took him away from comic books for over a decade. When he finally reappeared in the funny books, it was on the Empire Strikes Back adaptation for Marvel, and, naturally enough, an adaptation of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. You know: that one with Sam Jones, Melody Anderson, Timothy Dalton, and BRIAN BLESSED. “Gordon’s Alive!!”

Anyway, Secret Agent x-9 was itself inextricably connected to Flash, having also been created by Alex Raymond (with Dashiel Hammett). Several issues of this King Comics run featured Secret Agent x-9 back-up strips, the first of which was by Williamson with writer Archie Goodwin. It’s been suggested that it was that strip that got the pair the job on the daily strip — a position they held for more than twelve years.

These are great comics. And, though Williamson was gone, he was replaced by someone almost as good…

©2009 King Features Syndicate