One of the best-known pulp writers of the 1930s, Hammett also wrote a comic strip. Commissioned by the King Features Syndicate as an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Chester Gould's Dick Tracy, with artwork by Flash Gordon's Alex Raymond, Secret Agent X-9 ran from January 1934 to late 1935. In an excellent introduction, comics' historian Bill Blackbeard warns that the strip is at its best for "one brilliant 3 -month stretch," when X-9 goes after "The Top." After that it sinks into tiresome formula, without any of the charm that made Hammett so popular in the first place. Blackbeard attributes this to massive creative conflicts between Hammett and the syndicate. This is worth it only if you already have a large pulp or Hammett collection, or for Blackbeard's historical documentation.
- Keith R.A. DeCandido, NYPL
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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