Comic Strip Finales

Awhile back a question was brought up by Kevin of Pellucidar in the Classic Adventure Comic Strip group in regards to what adventure strips have done finale strips to wrap up their run. This prompted member Allen Lane to post a number of finale strips, including Brick Bradford, Buck Rogers, Buz Sawyer, Captain Easy, Terry and the Pirates, Twin Earths and my own Flash Gordon among others.

March 16, 2003

March 16, 2003

The inspiration for my sign-off was the ending of the first Flash Gordon serial starring Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon), Jean Rogers (Dale Arden) and Frank Shannon (Dr. Zarkov).

Flash Gordon serial - 1936

Flash Gordon serial – 1936

Note: For more Flash Gordon strip to serial connections, check out Michael Evans’ Outer Space Cinema.

Granted originally, in collaboration with Mutts artist Patrick McDonnell, I had planned a slightly more surreal ending.


King Features rejected it as a Flash Gordon page, but Patrick pulled some strings and it eventual saw print on March 23, 2003 as a Mutts page.

One of my favorite adventure strips during my tenure on staff at King Features was Secret Agent Corrigan by George Evans – more on that can be found on a previous post. When George ended the strip he did it on his own terms and in style.

February 10, 1996

February 10, 1996

One of the most memorable finales for a comic strip happened before the strip in question actually even ended. I’m talking of course of Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates.

Looking to have the financial stability of ownership of his strip (something he was denied at Tribune-News Syndicate with Terry), Caniff accepted an offer from the Field Newspaper Syndicate to create a new strip that he would have ownership of. That strip would be Steve Canyon. Caniff’s replacement on Terry and the Pirates would be George Wunder, who would go on to draw the strip for another 26 years.

In Caniff’s final Sunday page – romance is in the air for Terry and Jane Allen until it’s discovered that her old flame, Snake Tumblin, is still alive and in a base hospital somewhere in Australia. Sacrificing his own happiness, Terry secures Jane a flight and escorts her to the airfield…

December 29, 11946

December 29, 1946

That last panel is the killer as Caniff adds a double meaning to the writing on the wall.


As pointed out by R.C. Harvey in the foreward to the Complete Terry and the Pirates Volume 6, the Sunday page was not the last strip Caniff drew. Because the Sunday pages were due well in advance of the dailies, the following daily strip – printed the day before the momentous final Sunday page – was actually the last strip drawn.

December 28, 1946

December 28, 1946

If you haven’t picked up the Complete Terry and the Pirates, I highly recommend doing so. If they’re out of stock at IDW check out Amazon, or better yet your local comic retailer or book store.

And as always, to follow Flash Gordon online check out

About Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, he is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip - both available at A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, The University of Minnesota and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
This entry was posted in Flash Gordon, George Evans, Milton Caniff. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Comic Strip Finales

  1. Oscar Solis says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time and always enjoy the insights you bring about your craft.

    Even though it’s not an adventure strip, I’ve always felt the final Sunday strip for Peanuts has to be the most poignant farewell ever. Calvin and Hobbes farewell was very good too.

  2. Nice work on several levels, Jim!

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