Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Breaking News: Al Williamson Dead at 79

There's an old saying that no news is good news, and nowhere does this seem to be more true than when it comes to comic book legends. It seems like barely a week passes these days without the industry losing another one of its greats. And unfortunately, the inexorable loss of the men and women who invented comics and made the Golden Age so golden is continuing, as Al Williamson has died. He was 79.

The timing of Williamson's death is particularly ironic (if that's the word for it) considering his close friend and collaborator Frank Frazetta also passed away just a month ago. The two artists were among the "second wave" of creators that entered the industry following the initial Golden Age surge that created the comics medium. But while Williamson might have been in the second wave, there was nothing second rate about his fantastic -- and fantastically detailed -- artwork. Like Frazetta, Williamson rose to prominence thanks to his early work at EC Comics, where he became renowned for his work in science fiction. And though he was proficient in any number of other genres as well, Williamson remained associated with science fiction for the remainder of his career, thanks to high-profile and critically acclaimed projects like Flash Gordon and his adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back.

Williamson also holds a unique place among the pantheon of comics creators in that he was apparently universally beloved. Though I never had the chance to meet him myself, since his death over the weekend. Joe Quesada, Jimmy Palmiotti and Jeff Parker, for instance, have all written memorials to Williamson -- and that's just the J section. By all accounts, Williamson was a kind and generous man, traits that aren't often ascribed to artists as popular and successful as Williamson.

For another look at some of Williamson's more obscure work, you can check out Scott's Classic Comics Corner. In the mean time, here are a couple other classic Al Williamson covers.

They just don't make them like this any more.

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