What sounds like a great law firm name – Acker, Blacker & Brewer – is actually our latest interview for Dynamite's King Features crossover. Byron Brewer chatted with the writers of the upcoming Flash Gordon series Ben Acker and Ben Blacker about taking on a character that inspired so much of the science fiction that followed.
BYRON BREWER: Halfway through a miniseries celebrating the 100th anniversary of King Feature Syndicate. Could you see the story you are telling now as a series of comic strips in the newspapers of the early 20th century? How many weeks would this mini take to play out in the paper?
BEN ACKER: Yes and no. I mean, it's easy enough to visualize comic book panels as newspaper panels, especially when newspaper comics from history times were big and beautiful things.
BEN BLACKER: I'm visualizing it right now.
ACKER: He is visualizing it.
BLACKER: Now I'm done.
ACKER: He is done.
BLACKER: The no part of the answer is that despite being rooted in the character and the spirit of the history times origins of Flash and the gang, we've made great strides in terms of the roles of, say, alien species not standing in so much for the mysterious other.
ACKER: And lady characters not serving as just a character for the title character to save.
BLACKER: Don't tell anyone, but Dale Arden is the secret hero of our Flash Gordon run.
ACKER: Seriously, do not tell anyone. Flash is the non-secret hero of the run.
BB: Do you see any great difference between Flash as portrayed by you and as portrayed by Jeff Parker, or have you taken steps to see the two are similar?
ACKER: We have taken steps to cut our Flash from the cloth Jeff Parker used because it's a great cloth.
BLACKER: We might be more dialogue-heavy than Jeff Parker, as we come from pretend radio. (Please check out The Thrilling Adventure Hour wherever fine podcasts are podcasted.)
ACKER: Jeff Parker did a lot of universe-building so now we get to play in it. And build worlds within those universes.
BB: The Flash Gordon/Dale Arden chemistry is so different from other heroes and their love interests, often with Dale in the catbird seat, so to speak. How do you perceive this important character/story device?
ACKER: It would be too spoilery to say anything about that.
BLACKER: Or to have said it earlier in this interview.
BB: Did I hear something about Flash & Co. … under water??
ACKER: If you did, it could have been at any point in the 100 years of Flash Gordon. You can see King Kala's shark men in Alex Raymond's comic or in a movie serial or in the Flash Gordon Annual for which we wrote a story of Kala an his shark princess daughter, drawn so beautifully by our Flash Gordon artist, Lee Ferguson.
BLACKER: If you think we're not going back there in our Flash Gordon run, you're wrong. We're going back there. You'll see.
BB: Will Flash's saga be a key element when (as has been rumored) the KING characters come together in one major opus at the conclusion of the current minis? Any hints? (smiles)
ACKER: I don't want to spoil anything, but yes, absolutely.
BLACKER: I want to spoil everything, so yes, absolutely.
BB: Would you like to write a Flash Gordon comic if there is life after this 4-issue LS?
BLACKER: Or read one. We loved reading Jeff Parker's Flash Gordon– which, can we talk about how great Evan Shaner's art was there?
BLACKER: Absolutely beautiful. We love writing our Flash Gordon. Our editor Nate Cosby who oversaw the Parker/Shaner run as well puts together great creative teams. We are interested in whatever he's doing next.
For more on the King: Flash Gordon, click here.