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Hazard Warning

I’m currently working my way through the first four volumes of Pacific Comics’ Johnny Hazard by Frank Robbins, which reprints the daily newspaper strip from its launch on 5 June 1944 (the morning before D-Day, in case anyone needs reminding).

Robbins was originally approached by King Features to take over the Agent X-9 series created by author Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and illustrator Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon), but instead pitched an aviation-heavy adventure serial featuring ace flyer Johnny in aerial combat against the Axis Powers, with a supporting cast led by glamorous photographer Brandy and his eccentric fellow pilot ‘Admiral’ Slocum.

Johnny and Brandy’s first meeting, 7 July 1944

It’s an impressive achievement, even more so when one considers the story arc in the daily strip ran parallel but separate to the weekly Sunday colour instalment. Add to that his later commitments to the mainstream comics publishers (such as Marvel’s The Invaders, written by Roy Thomas and set in the 1940s), and I’m astonished he was able to keep all those plates spinning until King Features pulled the plug in 1977.

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