Owning my own comic shop hasn’t changed one thing: whatever town I’m visiting, I make a point of checking out the local comic shop. Not only is it always a good idea to support local retailers, you just never know what you might find. Which is why last weekend, while back in my old stomping grounds of Santa Barbara, I had occasion to stop into the mighty Metro Entertainment (my ancestral home of comics shops, having shopped there all through my college years), where I discovered this little beauty:
The comics adaptation of the 1980 cheese classic FLASH GORDON, which I didn’t even know existed! This movie is a guilty, guilty pleasure of mine, so there was no way I could resist, and I snatched it up immediately. Imagine my surprise to discover that the book was illustrated by comics legend Al Williamson! Williamson gives the movie a gravitas and depth it didn’t never had on screen:
And look at these amazing pages of Flash, Dale and Zarkov once they’ve landed on Mongo:
Williamson does a very nice job with the likenesses, as you can see here:
And his rendition of Sam Jones as Flash gives the character a tougher, flintier look than we ever saw in the movies (although I’m not sure that orange turtleneck sweater is an improvement, even over Flash’s goofy tank top with his name across the front).
You can tell Williamson really relished the moments when he got to dispense with the scenes from the movie and just focus on some real Flash Gordon-style scenery:
Unfortunately, this was only the first of three issues devoted to adapting the film, so I’m left hanging to see how Williamson handled the rest of the movie. But the other thing about the issue that was a pleasant surprise was how much of the issue was devoted to “house ads” for other Whitman comics — like Popeye, for example:
I always thought the Pink Panther worked surprisingly well as a comic…
Woody and his niece and nephew get some promotion:
This is a weird ad for BATTLE OF THE PLANETS. Why are we only seeing the stars from behind?
But by far, the two best ads in the issue? One for “Snippys,” because what better target audience to sell scissors to than children:
And one for “Flipits.” Because I’m still not sure what the hell a Flipit was.
Not to mention who “Super-Chick” was…