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Secret Agent X-9 was a comic strip begun by writer Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and artist Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon). Syndicated by King Features, it ran from January 22, 1934 until February 10, 1996.

X-9 was a nameless agent who worked for a nameless agency. X-9 used the name “Dexter” in the first story (“It’s not my name, but it’ll do.”) and kept using it or being called by it in later stories, but acquired the name “Phil Corrigan” in the 1940s and decades later the strip was renamed Secret Agent Corrigan. The nameless agency was also briefly the FBI when the FBI was in vogue, but when the FBI became less popular, references to it were dropped and the agency was nameless again.

The strip was something of a combination of a secret agent and private eye adventure, and it went back and forth between the two. Despite the initial combination of talents, the strip was never a success; perhaps the confusion about what kind of strip it actually was contributed to this. By the next year, Hammett and Raymond had both left the strip.

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After four stories by Hammett, Alex Raymond illustrated two stories written by Don Moore and one written by Leslie Charteris. Charteris continued to write three more stories, illustrated by Charles Flanders. After Charteris left the strip in 1936, scripts were credited to a King Features house name, “Robert Storm”. Who did the actual writing is unknown. Nicholas Afonsky drew the strip for most of 1938, followed by Austin Briggs until 1940. Mel Graff took over the art in 1940 and began writing the strip as well in 1942. Graff is the one who gave X-9 his name, Phil Corrigan. Graff thought it didn’t make sense for a secret agent to be addressed by his secret moniker, X-9. The name Phil Corrigan was inspired by Phil Cardigan, a character in one of Graff’s earlier comic strips, The Adventures of Patsy. Graff also gave X-9 a more personal life with romantic interests Linda and Wilda. Both these characters inspired popular songs: “Linda” written by Jack Lawrence and “Wilda” written by Graff himself. Wilda became Phil Corrigan’s wife.

Graff was followed by artist Bob Lubbers, who used the pseudonym “Bob Lewis” and drew the strip from 1960 through 1966. From 1967 to 1980, the strip was written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Al Williamson, who together also collaborated on the Star Wars comic strip. The last artist on the strip was veteran George Evans, who wrote and drew the strip from 1980 to his retirement in 1996.

In 2000-01, X-9 made a guest appearance in the Flash Gordon Sunday strip. One page was drawn by Evans, and that was X-9’s last appearance in newspaper comics.

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UPDATE 08-12-2016

65 pages/strips Secret Agent X-9 1957
28 pages/strips Secret Agent X-9 1960

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79 strips 1945
312 strips 1946
100 strips 1947
37 strips unsorted

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