Monday, June 14, 2010
R.I.P. Al Willamson
I loved his detailed, lush art style, his noble-but-human heroes, his stunning women, his imaginative and utterly convincing alien worlds. He was as much a master of real-world adventure (Secret Agent Corrigan) as he was interplanetary adventure (Flash Gordon, Star Wars), and he was equally adept at atmospheric horror (Creepy), gritty Westerns and exotic jungle thrills (Jann of the Jungle).
Right next to my desk, on a bookshelf within easy reach, are nine large volumes devoted to his work: the aforementioned Art of Al Williamson, Al Williamson Hidden Lands, Al Williamson Adventures, the lovely Al Williamson's Flash Gordon collection, the hardcover edition of his Flash Gordon movie adaptation, three volumes of Classic Star Wars strips, and a Secret Agent Corrigan album from Pioneer Books.
Following so quickly on the heels of the death of his friend Frank Frazetta, I can't help but feel that a distinct era of heroic fantasy illustration has passed, and that we'll never see its like again. Oh, there are talented artists out there working in the tradition of Frazetta and Williamson, like Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni and Mike Hoffman, but it's not the same.
Rest in Peace, Al, and thanks for sharing the adventure. I miss you already.