The first volume of our multi-volume series reprising Al Williamson and Archie Goodwin’s X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan has officially hit the bookstores. The strips are reproduced from Al Williamson’s personal proofs. To provide context, Mark Schultz wrote a touching tribute to Al, and Bruce Canwell offers up a detailed look at the history of X-9, going back to its creation in 1934 by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond.
I’ve returned from deep cover. My trenchcoat is back on its hangar; my Sig Sauer P239 concealed carry package has been safely returned to its lock-box; my forged credentials have been burned, the ashes sifted and tossed into three separate dumpsters.
Still, all my derring-do pales before the high-octane espionage and action you’ll find this summer in our first volume of X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan. And when you see the delicious artwork and stories of tradecraft created by that comics team par excellence, Al Williamson and Archie Goodwin, you’ll likely find yourself wishing for a gadget-laden attaché case of your own.
Separately or working together as a team, Al and Archie created a high level of quality that sustained their decades-long reputation as two of the finest craftsmen in the business. Al was born in the United States, the son of a Colombian father and American mother, though at age two he moved to Colombia with his parents; he says he learned to read both Spanish and English through comics, primarily through the Mexican title, Paquin.
As a teenager, again living back in the States, Al studied under Burne Hogarth and befriended Roy Krenkel; he hit EC Comics at age twenty-one years old. He later spent three years as John Prentice’s assistant on Rip Kirby, also pulling uncredited stints on Big Ben Bolt and Dan Flagg, where he teamed with Archie. By 1967, the Williamson/Goodwin team was selected to replace Bob Lewis (the pen-name of Bob Lubbers) on Secret Agent Corrigan, an assignment which benefited from their distinctive creative stamp for the next thirteen years.
Together, Al and Archie pitted Secret Agent X-9, Phil Corrigan, against a seemingly-inexhaustible supply of threats to the free world. Archie’s imaginative plotting and rock-solid characterizations mesh perfectly with Al’s exceptional draftsmanship, detailed rendering, and sense of drama.
If, like me, you love ‘60s spies such as Kelly and Scotty of I Spy, Napoleon Solo, Nick Fury, and the British Johns (Steed and Drake), you’ll likely be glad to add Phil Corrigan to their ranks. So keep a keen eye out for X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan Volume 1!
In case anyone out there thought the 1930s and 1940s had exclusive domain over the best adventure strips of all time, we offer for your consideration one of the greatest of them all…from the 1960s to 1980s!
In 1967, famed EC artist Al Williamson teamed with Archie Goodwin, the greatly admired writer and Editor-in-Chief at Warren magazines, to take over the long-running and somewhat tired X-9 series. It was a team that was made in sequential art heaven: Archie and Al had a magnificent 13-year run on the strip, and they teamed again later for wonderful work on Star Wars.
In July, we’ll begin reprinting their entire X-9 run in five volumes under the title X9: Secret Agent Corrigan. It’s the first comprehensive collection of the strip and will be printed from Al Williamson’s personal proofs in an oversized format that matches our Rip Kirby series by Alex Raymond.
“Al Williamson’s delicate line-work, coupled with a style that’s both realistic and atmospheric, enhances the no-nonsense story of Phil Corrigan,” says IDW’s Scott Dunbier, who’s editing the series. And I would add that Archie Goodwin’s unerring sense of pacing, which he developed in comic books, is even more noticeable in the daily strip format. Man, the guy could write!
Secret Agent Corrigan updates the character created in 1934 by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond. X-9 was originally an agent known only by his code name, who worked for an unknown government agency. Over the years, the series benefited from the individual styles of many writers and artists—including Leslie Charteris (author of The Saint novels), Charles Flanders, Mel Graff, Bob Lubbers, and George Evans—but it is the Goodwin/Williamson tenure that is best-loved by today’s comics fans. It was during their run that X-9 received the name of Phil Corrigan.
The first volume also features an introduction by Mark Schultz, and a essay on X-9’s long history by Bruce Canwell.