Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Williamson, Al

(1931-2010) US fantasy/sf Comic-book illustrator with a fertile imagination and a firm, decorative line style. AW studied under Burne Hogarth at the School of Visual Arts; his first published work appeared in Heroic #51 (1948). He worked for several publishers including ACG and Eastern before joining EC Comics in 1952, often working with Frank Frazetta and Roy Krenkel. His strong, slick, naturalistic draughtsmanship quickly matured and he continued with EC until the company failed in 1955, when he moved to Atlas to work on war, romance, adventure and horror tales. His association with characters created by Alex Raymond began when he was taken on as an assistant by John Prentice (1920-    ) to work on the daily newspaper strip Rip Kirby. He drew several stories for Warren Publishing's new horror titles Eerie and Creepy, and then drew three books of another Raymond creation, Flash Gordon (#1, #4, #5 1966-1967). In #4 he drew a 5-page backup story featuring a third Raymond character, Secret Agent X9, as a result of which he was offered the opportunity to take over the syndicated newspaper strip of the same character (subsequently retitled Secret Agent Corrigan): he drew it for 13 years.

AW then began drawing comic-book adaptations of movies, starting with George Lucas's The Empire Strikes Back (1980) which led to his taking on the Star Wars newspaper strip, where his flair for creating imaginative Planetary-Romance scenarios was fully exploited: he continued drawing this until 1986. He also adapted Dino De Laurentis's Flash Gordon (1980) (> Flash Gordon Movies), Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and Lucas's Return of the Jedi (1983). His Star Wars newspaper strips are presently (1996) being published in collected editions as Classic Star Wars. In the 1990s he is returning once again to Flash Gordon. [RT]

further reading: Al Williamson (graph 1983) by James Van Hise.

Al Williamson

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.