Al Williamson Passes Away At 79.

Word is spreading across the comics community that the legendary artist and illustrator Al Williamson has passed away.  Born in 1931, Williamson's career spanned many decades and phases of comic book history.  He might be most well known as the artist of the Star Wars daily strips, but his career as a sci-fi and fantasy artist was much deeper than that.  His list of credits is deep and impressive, including collaborations with luminaries such as Frank Frazetta and Wally Wood, as work for almost every comic company there was.  His realistic and heavily detailed style would be a bellweather for artists that followed, including Neal Adams, and those who signalled a change in the way comic art was produced.

He switched from pencils to almost full time inking in the 80's, through his retirement in 2003, where Williamson was a regular inker at Marvel Comics, his credits showing up alongside names like John Romita Jr., Mike Mignola, Gene Colan, Rick Leonardi, and others.  According to John Romita Sr, the story goes that he couldn't make a living as a penciller, because his pages were too detailed and took too long, so he switched to inking.

The comics community is already eulogizing Williamson.

Jimmy Palmiotti writes, on his blog, "I cant tell you how much this news has upset me . Al was someone I looked up to…wanted to be like and best of all, I really, really, enjoyed his company. When I was inking full time years ago, I used to track down what conventions Al would be at and hang around him like a true fan boy. The first time I met him was up at Marvel Comics and really…I couldnt say much in his presence. At that point, he was a living legend in my eyes and it humbled me. Anyone who knows me , knows how impossible that is to do."

Jeff Parker, on his blog, shares, "Some of my all time favorite Williamson work is three issues of Flash Gordon he drew in the ’60’s. To look at his work as a young artist is an exercise in frustration; he was such a virtuoso that in trying to learn from him, you get caught up in a lot of execution beyond the part you need to be focusing on. Those brush lines are enchanting and you want to go right to them, forgetting that Al knew how to do the figure, staging and powerful composition first. I spent many hours wondering why I couldn’t make a Windsor Newton brush do these things."

We wish to express our sympathies, and thank Al Williamson for his lasting and immeasurable contributions to this artform and industry that we love so much.


  1. The greatness of Al Williamson speaks for itself. He was truly one of the greats in the comics industry. He was amazing and helped defined the look of so many comics and the way comics are drawn today.

  2. I have those Flash Gordon comics that Parker mentions. It was my first exposure to Al Williamson, and an early exposure to comic books. A true giant, he will be missed. A sad day for us all.

  3. As the penciller of the Empire Strikes Back graphic novel, Williamson was responsible for one of the first comics I ever owned. How many of us have high expectations for what art should be because his were some of the earliest comics we read?

  4. Dave Gibbon’s just tweeted:

    "Al Williamson’s inking along with Kirby’s pencils in "Race For The Moon" was THE biggest influence on me as a kid."

    The guy was a big deal. Sad to see him go!


  5. Odd timing. Last Thursday night I just recorded an interview with artist Mark Schultz, who authored last year’s incredible Al Williamson-Flash Gordon retrospective, and we spent pleny of time talk about Al’s genius, and his career.

    The episode will post here tomorrow.  



  6. God, too many legends are dying this year.

    RIP Williamson 

  7. I’m only familiar with his Star Wars stuff, but you’d have to be blind to deny Williamson’s skill. It’s always sad to see someone in the induystry pass on.

  8. Definitely check out the EC stuff he did. For a while there around 1952 or so, Williamson, Wood and Frazetta were on fire. Titles like Weird Science-Fantasy benefitted from his lush attention to detail.

    Speaking of Mark Schultz, he is probably the most prolific current proponent of the Wood/Williamson/Frazetta comics style. Xenozoic Tales is a lovely continuation of the themes, preoccupations and visual cliches of EC science fiction. His Conan work has been pretty stunning, too.

    Wiliamson’s work definitely shows the influence of Thirties action/adventure strips, fine illustration, and even the Brandywine School of painters. See also Roy Krenkel, Lou Fine, and Virgil Finlay, as well as Crane, Sickles, Robbins, Caniff, Raymond, et al.

  9. Mr. Williamson was one of those rare ink artists that made his penciler look better every single time. And when he did his own pencils? Well, Katie bar the door, they were sooooo good.

    It’s disappointing that only eight comments have been posted so far, and that three of them are from the iFanboys themselves. Wake up, people! This man was one of the greats. 

  10. Rest In Peace Al Williamson; you’ll be remembered forever in your wonderful art. 

  11. The comics they read in Heaven must rock. Vale Mr Williamson.

  12. Oh man.  Frazetta, then Williamson?  That’s tough.  I remember the first time I read his "Star Wars" comics as a kid.  I thought they were so well done they were actually an adaptation of a "Star Wars" movie I hadn’t seen.  One of the best.

  13. You only have to look at the couple of panels posted above…there’s so much gorgeous Williamson art left behind.  Sheer genius.