Thursday, June 24, 2010

Intergalactic Romance: The Lost Worlds of Al Williamson, 1931-2010

Flash Gordon 1, page 12, panels 1 and 2

I just came across the sad news that comic book artist extraordinaire, Al Williamson, passed away recently, on June 12. Al Williamson has been one of my favorite artists ever since I read Flash Gordon 5 (King, 1967). So in memory of one of the greatest of the greats, here's the cover and one of the stories from that book:

Al Williamson must have really enjoyed drawing Flash Gordon and by the effort put into it, seems to have treated it as a privilege and an honor. It's done with such care and attention to detail, almost as if in tribute to Alex Raymond, who was clearly a major influence on his style. While he worked in various genres, to me his forte and perhaps his greatest achievement was science fiction/fantasy.

Above: Flash Gordon 1 page 4 panel 1 and Flash Gordon 5 page 25 panel 3

His passing reminded me of the last page in Barry Smith's Conan the Barbarian 3, so this post will finish with that, as a kind of epitaph to the man, the artist, one of the stalwart warriors who helped establish the greatness of the sequential art medium through the beauty and grace of his own work, Al Williamson:


  1. KB: Oh, my God, what beauty! Williamson, hard as it may seem to believe, may have been under-appreciated while alive. I suspect his passing will be like a well going dry - you don't miss the cool, fresh, clean water until it's gone. Look at those backgrounds! Great post!

  2. Mykal: Definitely under-appreciated. The great thing for me about discovering Williamson has been finding his work popping up in unexpected places, and especially if it is from the 50s or 60s it can be a gem. One of my favorite books, and one of the books left in my condensed collection built for traveling, is a 1957 Charlton giant issue of Wyatt Earp that is almost all Williamson. He turns up in Atlas and Harvey sci-fi/science fantasy books from the late 50s and early 60s. It's always a pleasure to rediscover Al Williamson every time I find a new story of his that I haven't seen before, or when I revisit one like this Flash Gordon. Actually, I think I'll scan the first story from issue 1 as that is even better than this one (if that's possible!).