– FLASH GORDON Has Lost Two ‘Fathers’-
JUNE’s been a rough month for Flash Gordon. Two men important to his legend and legacy have passed on.
On June 12th, Alfonso “Al” Williamson , talented comic strip and book artist, passed away at 79. Williamson worked on many adventure and science fiction/fantasy features, most notably King Feature’s 1960’s FLASH GORDON comic book.
Long a fan of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon strip, Al Williamson would draw Raymond’s Secret Agent X-9 for several years, and later Flash— using a style that suggested the richly detailed and realistically rendered look of Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday strips, resulting in some outstanding comic book work.
In the ’50s Williamson worked for EC Comics on titles that included Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, sometimes collaborating with artists such as Frank Frazetta and Wally Wood. He also contributed to Warren Publishing’s Creepy and Eeerie magazines.
In the 1980’s Al Williamson become George Lucas’s favored STAR WARS artist, working on both comic books and the newspaper strip.
He also worked, mainly as an inker, for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. In 1995, he did a special two-issue Flash Gordon comic for Marvel.
Al Williamson was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2000.
Earlier this month, on June 4th, famed radio creator-director-producer Himan Brown passed away, just a few weeks short of his 100th birthday. Brown contibuted to something in the area of 30,000 radio episodes in a 70-year career.
In April of 1935, Brown launched The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon, a 26-episode weekly radio serial for the Mutal Brodcasting system. Transcribed in New York, this version of Flash Gordon stayed very close to the Sunday strip for most episodes.
The actor playing Flash was a young Gale Gordon, who later moved to California and became known as a crusty comic foil on radio and televison, familar to most as Mr. Wilson on TV’s DENNIS THE MENACE and Mr. Mooney on THE LUCY SHOW.
A longer-running Further Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon had its own independent storylines, bringing Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov into a war in Atlantis, as a syndicated series that ran through 1936.
Producing for both syndication services and major radio networks, Brown would work with talents such as Orson Welles, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and others. His comic strip and genre-related shows included Bulldog Drummond, Dick Tracy, The Gumps, and Terry and the Pirates.
Perhaps his most memorable and influential show he did was Inner Sanctum, which dealt with mysteries, horror, and science fiction themes, hosted by the sardonic narrator, Raymond (Raymond Everrett Johnson, also Radio’s Mandrake the Magician). THE TWILIGHT ZONE and similar programs owe more than a little to this series. Brown also produced the ’50s INNER SANCTUM TV show.
In later years, Himan Brown produced the CBS Radio Mystery Theater from 1974 to 1984.
FLASH GORDON remains in active delevopement as a feature film from Sony/Columbia Pictures, to be directed by Breck Eisner (THE CRAZIES).