It's almost unimaginable to me that the work of Russ Manning, an artist who I regard as among the most amazing in comics could be topped on a project. On Tarzan when Joe Kubert came along he made the character his own and his version didn't seem to compete with Manning's more modernized sleeker Ape Man. But on Star Wars one has only to glance at the work Al Williamson using the characters and settings of the George Lucas classic movie and you know instantly that it's the ideal pairing of an artist and a project.
Apparently Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson tried out for the strip in the very beginning and seeing the samples reproduced in this collection it's hard to imagine how they were immediately hogtied and forced to take it on. But it didn't happen and Russ Manning ain't no one to sneeze at. But Williamson's adulation of Alex Raymond and the way he took that and other influences to make his own idealized artwork made him the perfect match for the Lucas film, because he and Lucas were coming from the same source though by two different tributaries. Williamson used the original Flash Gordon comic as inspiration for much of his work and Lucas tapped into the zeitgeist of the serials that used Flash as its subject matter. Two craftsmen who looked to the past to make the future.