Saturday, March 12, 2011

FLASH GORDON (1980) Tie-In Books

Here's the striking cover of the Flash Gordon Book, a children's adaptation of the Mike Hodges-directed sci-fantasy epic, written by Lynn Haney, and illustrated with color stills from the film - at least a few of which are posed PR shots that I've never seen anywhere else. Aimed at young readers, it leaves out the kinkier story elements explored in Arthur Byron Cover's paperback "adult" novelization (although the indicia states that it's based on Cover's book!) and is fairly faithful to the final film.

I didn't own a copy of this back in 1980 because I was a little old for it at the time, but I found a copy a few years ago. Great cover, eh?

And here's the oversized hardcover edition of Gold Key/Golden Books/Whitman's comic book adaptation, written by Bruce Jones and drawn by the legendary Al Williamson.

Rumor has it that Williamson - who was both a big Buster Crabbe fan and had drawn several highly-regarded issues of Flash Gordon for King Comics in the 60s - absolutely hated drawing Sam Jones as Flash, and instead drew the character rather generically; this dissatisfaction with the art was why he subsequently refused to autograph copies of the book for fans over the years. I was also told (by one of Williamson's assistants) that that's why the Flash figure on the cover is a photo, while all the rest of the characters are Williamson's drawings. The licensors were unhappy with his rendition of their star.

I love this comic and own several different editions of it - the hardcover pictured above (which my wonderful wife bought me as a Christmas present a few years ago), the three-issue Gold Key comic book version, and the B&W reprint (from Williamson's original art) that appeared in the Al Williamson's Flash Gordon collection, which included every Flash story and piece of art Williamson ever did.


  1. Here's a b/w version with Sam Jones...

  2. Yeah I wasn't clear - it wasn't that Williamson refused to draw Jones on the cover - simply that the licensors didn't like his version of Jones.

    I'm a huge fan of Williamson and this comic, but even I have to admit that his drawings of Jones only vaguely resemble the actor and are the worst actor likenesses in the book.

  3. That is cool. Too bad that did do more novels with all new adventures.

  4. The cover at the top of the post is just that Struzan?

  5. The great art on the FLASH GORDON book was probably unused poster concept art. It looks like the kind of work Drew Struzan or Chantrell might do..

  6. There's no credit for the cover artist in the book, but the cover art itself has the word "Noble" on it - presumably the artist's name.