* When Secret Agent X-9 premiered in January 1934, King Features could proudly boast that its new adventure strip was written by the world's most famous mystery writer - Dashiell Hammett, the man who virtually invented the hard-boiled detective in such novels as The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and Red Harvest. The artist chosen was less well-known - at this point, Alex Raymond was merely an uncredited assistant on Tim Tyler's Luck and the humor strip Blondie - but 1934 was the turning point in Raymond's career. From that cold January forward, Alex Raymond would become as famous as Hammett, thanks to his Sunday comics double-header, Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim. * The Secret Agent X-9 strip was a dailies-only serial. This volume collects the complete Hammett/Raymond strips, plus the subsequent stories by Raymond and Leslie Charteris, famous himself for "The Saint" novels, as well as the Charteris stories drawn by Charles Flanders. Included are strips from January 22, 1934 through October 31, 1936.
Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, screenwriter, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, and the Continental Op as well as the novels The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Alex Raymond (1909-1956) is regarded, with Milton Caniff and Hal Foster, as one of the three giants of newspaper adventure strip artists. Raymond apprenticed with Chic Young on Blondie and Lyman Young on Tim Tyler's Luck. The year 1934 was a major turning point in his career: he illustrated Secret Agent X-9, a new detective comic strip written by Dashiell Hammett, and then created Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim. He left X-9 after a couple of years and continued drawing Flash and Jim, with a writing assist from Don Moore, until 1944, when he enlisted in the Marines. In 1946 Raymond created the ultimate post-War cool detective series, Rip Kirby, which is also available from the Library of American Comics.