Jun 15, 2010

RIP Al Williamson

Al Williamson, one of the cornerstone artists of the New Trend movement of EC Comics, has passed away.

I only discovered his work in recent years, and I don't think he was as skilled as Wally Wood or Bill Elder, but Al Williamson was a part of that group of revolutionaries in EC Comics, the one company that said that "The house style is quality." In particular, I'll never forget his short story, "50 Girls 50," which was showcased in Weird Science #20.

His work, like that of his entire company's, was very influential, and Al Williamson's career spanned all the way to 2009. He was so good that at one point, Frank Frazetta was inking him. And when called upon to do Flash Gordon, he did one worthy of Alex Raymond:

Rest in piece, Al Williamson. Thank you for your contributions to this medium I love.

1 comment:

Dan P. said...

I don't think ANYBODY can claim to be a better comic artist than Al Williamson. Not Jack Kirby, not Neal Adams, or anybody else. Al's work was just perfect for the comics medium.

I think Al's reason for not being better appreciated is because he left comic books for comic strips all during (arguably) the best decade of comic art, the 1970s. His run on Secret Agent X-9 is pure perfection: great art, great read. And his Star Wars strip (and comic adaptation) has never been matched by anybody. But those are strips and comic book fans don't pay very much attention to strips.

A second setback is Al's lack of interest in superheroes, and that's mostly what the industry has been since 1980. If you do drama but don't do superheroes you don't get much attention.

Another problem for AW's legacy is that his return to comic books got bogged down in his pursuit of perfection. His Flash Gordon and Bladerunner movie adaptations look exactly like the movies, an effort that almost wiped him out. So he shed himself of penciling and hired himself out as an inker. AW is a fine inker, but that's not where his impression lies. He's impressive in his layouts and design. He just didn't stand out that much as an inker and so his final two decades of work just went by without fanfare.

But we can say that Al had a great career nonetheless, doing what he wanted to do and appreciated among his peers.

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