Illustrator AL WILLIAMSON died this past Saturday at the age of 79. Now, I heard the news that day, but I wasn't really thinking I'd eulogize him. Don't get me wrong- I knew full well who he was- one of the greats, with a graceful style in the great newspaper strip tradition. A consummate craftsman, certainly in the discussion when it comes to the all-time greats. But at the time, I had no real emotional connection because I couldn't think of anything he'd done that particularly moved me one way or the other since I'd been reading comics. I remembered him being one of the Warren stable in their glory years under Archie Goodwin. I also recalled his work on features like Flash Gordon and even recalled reading Secret Agent X-9 in the Louisville Courier-Journal (or was it the Louisville Times? I forget), and I also remembered a ton of ink jobs on comics I didn't buy very much, if at all, like Marvel's Star Wars adaptations and other comics. His byline was always appreciated, but I never sought it out.
Ah, but I was wrong!
After reading Steve Bissette's remembrance today, it hit me- he drew one of my absolute favorite Warren stories, the wickedly funny "The Success Story", page below:
Click to read it inflated-ego size. If nothing else, when I first read it at the tender young age of six or so, it introduced me to the concept of "ruling panel borders", and that stuck with me for years. To this day I have a reluctance to rule panel borders. Go here to read it in its entirety.
And then, and then it REALLY hit me. Bissette's mention of Williamson's interaction and mentoring of the likes of Tom Yeates and Rick Veitch jogged my memory- Williamson drew a story in the multi-artist fourth issue of Timespirits, from a Steve Perry script! Below are two of his pages, click to read them dino-size.
So there you go. You never know sometimes, what kind of connection you could have with a man's work. There have many great tributes already- I linked to Bissette's above, and here's Tom Spurgeon's, as well as a roundup of most of the others.
As I so often seem to say when someone of this magnitude passes on, and it's happening more and more these days- we're running out of great ones and we won't see their like again.
Pic of Al above found here.