Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Al Williamson R.I.P.

Sad news today as it has been reported that master illustrator Al Williamson has passed away at age 79.
Williamson was a brilliant artist who had a photo-realistic style that brought aliens and their worlds to life. Williamson started in the 1950's and quickly made a mark on the comic book industry. He was hired by Bill Gaines of EC Comics to work on their science fiction titles (mostly) and made a reputation for himself working in this genre. Williamson has been compared to artist Alex Raymond (creator of "Flash Gordon") one of his heroes and in the 60's he worked the Gordon comic book for King Comics.
He went on to work for other comic book publishers and in the 1960's started working on newspaper strips. He took over Secret Agent X-9 and Secret Agent Corrigan, two strips started by Raymond, once again following his heroes work.
In the 1970's Williamson adapted the first "Star Wars" sequel "The Empire Strikes Back" for Marvel Comics and because of this took over the "Star Wars" newspaper strip shortly afterward. It has been reported that "Star Wars" creator George Lucas was a big fan of Williamson's sci-fi work and wanted him to begin the strip but couldn't due to prior commitments.
It was through his work on "Star Wars" that I first encountered the art of Al Williamson. I love his illustrated style and his commitment to detail. Hearing of his death deeply saddens me. It's a dirty shame that we will never see him draw another action shot of Flash or a ship or creature that belongs in the Star Wars universe.

We lost a great one today. May he Rest in Peace.

Below are the original strips that Williamson drew as an audition for the "Star Wars" strip. As you can see it adapts the original film.

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