Flash Gordon, exquisitely presented by Al Williamson. Gold Key Comics, 1967

I don’t know how common it is for someone to be able to point at the exact moment or incident that determined the course of their life. But for me, it pretty clearly was the day that I put my hand on “Flash Gordon #5” from Gold Key Comics. I was a young fellow at the time; had never heard of Flash Gordon or Al Williamson, let alone Flash’s legendary creator Alex Raymond. But I opened that comic and fell into a world of high adventure, idealized grace and boundless imagination and knew that I wanted to do That Exact Thing myself. It’s a quest I’ve been pursuing ever since. I’ve never gotten within shouting distance of my heroes, but the closest I have ever come was in creating the world that Trekker moves in.

Having gone through an early period in my career where I tried vainly to “be” Al Williamson, I eventually realized that between my own limitations as a draftsman and also the many influences on my own art that came from a vastly different sensibility than the purity of herioc illustration that Williamson and company represented, I would have to make my own way. Some of those other artistic guideposts will be explored later, but I could only begin one place, and that’s with the comic and the artist that first inspired the sense of Wonder in me that I think all artist spend their careers trying to recapture for themselves and then share with others. Thanks, Al, Flash and Alex!

And note: Track down a copy of Flesk Publications’ “Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon“. It’s a painstakingly glorious collection of Williamson’s complete work on Flash Gordon over the years, assembled by fellow Williamson admirer, friend and great artist in his own right Mark Schultz. So you know it was done right!