Darn it all. I hear Al Williamson has passed away.
First impression: He was a delightful guy, full of stories, a good joke, or a quick sketch that he could pop out onto a napkin. I remember him as an authentic, likable human being, and his family was equally so.
And, that quick beautiful sketch I mentioned — it wasn’t simply good – it was phenomenal, and he did it in a minute, with a ballpoint pen, or a pentel marker (no rough work, the jerk!), and it came out of him just perfect, probably looking something like this:
That’s inspiring to see when you’re just starting out in the biz. And so, at the age of twenty –six, I decided that I wanted to be Al Williamson when I grew up.
I’m still working on it.
You need to know this about Al:
Al drew like this when he was a teenager:
And if you think that’s not fair, and you hope to God Al got these skills by having no social life, just sitting in his basement day after day, drawing all the time, an ugly, nerdy kid who never got kissed ….you need to know this:
Al Williamson looked like this when he was in his twenties.
And if you think THAT’s not fair, and you hope to God Al was addicted to heroin or Malaysian asphyxiation films or the dog track (he wasn’t) or he was one of those Golden Age artists of the fifties who never got a break, and had his creations taken away from him…you need to know this:
Al spent the lion’s share of his career as a very well compensated comic strip artist continuing the creations of his personal hero, Alex Raymond, drawing Flash Gordon, Secret Agent Corrigan, and Rip Kirby.
Well, it’s not like Lucas stole it all from Al. (He stole a bit from Buster Crabbe, and other bits from The Hidden Fortress, and some Moebius comics as well) And it’s not like Al didn’t get to see any Star Wars money. Al drew the Star Wars comic strip for years in the Eighties, and it was my favorite thing in the newspaper.
Along the way, Al won pretty well every industry award possible, gave us some of the best comics ever created, and oh, just in case you’re not already sick with envy that YOU weren’t Al Williamson, his lifetime circle of close buddies and pals included Wally Wood, Reed Crandall, Roy Krenkel, Angelo Torres, George Woodbridge, Archie Goodwin, and Frank Frazetta, most of the biggest names in the Who’s Who of comics.
Sometimes we get one of these guys that turns out perfect in every conceivable way.
Today I shall rifle-laser blast a dragon and make out with a woman/alien hybrid, clad only in shimmering gossamer in your honour, Al.