Al Williamson 1931-2010
Al Williamson, the youngest artist in the acclaimed EC stable of artists, died yesterday after a long illness. Born in 1931, he was raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Williamson was attracted to American comic strips, notably Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, before relocating to the United States at age 12. As a teen, he attended Burne Hogarth’s Cartoonists and Illustrators School, meeting several future colleagues, notably Wally Wood and Roy Krenkel.
After assisting Hogarth on the Tarzan Sunday pages, he made his first professional sale in 1951, selling a story to Adventures into the Unknown #27, cover dated January 1952. Just a few months later he arrived at EC, contributing to Tales from the Crypt #31. His photorealistic style and strong brush line led him to contribute primarily to the science fiction titles including Weird Science and Weird Fantasy. His other clients included Avon Publications, Fawcett Comics, and Standard Comics. When EC folded, he went to work for Atlas (before it became Marvel) and then reteamed with many of his EC pals at Harvey Comics, where he did noteworthy inks over Jack Kirby features.
Williamson achieved a dream when he took over writing and drawing Flash Gordon comic books in the 1960s, which were collected only last year. These stories earned him the first of many awards, the 1966 National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book. Throughout the 1960s, Williamson produced stories for the Warren black and white magazines in addition to advertising work.
In 1970, he and writer Archie Goodwin, who became one of his closest friends, took over Raymond’s Secret Agent X-9 which was eventually renamed Secret Agent Corrigan. The duo reteamed to produce the early years of the Star Wars comic strip in addition to producing adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Blade Runner. On his own, Williamson adapted the Dino DeLaurentiis Flash Gordon movie and completed his work on the space hero with the 1995 Marvel miniseries (written by Mark Schultz).
By the 1980s, Al was having doubts about his ability and sought the less stressful demands as an inker, notably over Curt Swan’s Superman for DC and later over John Romita, Jr. on Daredevil work which won the team the Harvey Award multiple times.
By the 2000s, Williamson was already ill and slowed his output until he was inking just Spider-Girl and completed an illustrious professional art career around 2005. He was voted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2000.
The subjective of at least six retrospective books, Williamson’s influence as an artist and a professional continues to be influential on the current generation of creators. He made his home in Pennsylvania with his wife Corina, until his death.