This oversized art book presents a huge dose of Al's exceptional illustrations for stories authored by Harlan Ellison, Bruce Jones, Mark Schultz, Archie Goodwin, and Mark Wheatley. It includes new and never before seen art and stories in addition to the highest art quality reproduction of the very best comic art Al Williamson has created. Look for a dramatic new cover illustration of Al's favorite comics strip character, Flash Gordon.
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Williamson, former artist of adventure comic strips like Secret Agent Corrigan and Flash Gordon, might best be described as the Roger Corman of comics art. While his own work has mostly appeared in the medium's pulpier areas, his influence on subsequent generations of comics artists is undeniable. Like Corman, Williamson has influenced filmmakers, too-George Lucas says much of the Star Wars movies' production design owes a huge debt to Williamson, and Lucas later asked Williamson to draw the Star Wars comics strip. In celebration of his long, successful career, Insight Studios Group has produced an album-sized collection of his art, both b&w and color. This is not some static pin-up book, but an anthology of various short stories by such luminaries as Harlan Ellison, Bruce Jones and Archie Goodwin. While it's an impressive roster of writers, it's clear they're completely in the service of the artist. The stories-almost all of which feature obvious plot twists and clumsy dialogue-are really no more than flimsy excuses for Williamson to draw beautiful, scantily-clad women; burly men in leather jackets; and futuristic cars with big guns. Fortunately, the art is well worth it. For all of his love of the Sunday sci-fi adventure strip tropes, Williamson is a skilled storyteller. He has a strong sense of both anatomy and physical objects, handles chases and fights with equal aplomb, and if his characters' expressions sometimes lack subtlety-well, they're not in subtle stories, now, are they?
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Williamson is best known for the gorgeous sf stories he illustrated in the 1950s for various EC Comics. His style has changed remarkably little during the intervening half-century, and this collection of recent work demonstrates there is scant reason it should have. Unlike most contemporary comics artists, who learned to draw from studying their forebears, Williamson was influenced by classic magazine illustration, which spurred him to develop a facility rivaling those of its masters. Every panel here is beautifully rendered, and the book's oversize format and sharp, mostly black-and-white reproduction show Williamson's meticulous line to full advantage. The stories are primarily sf and other genre tales like the ones he drew in his early career. Perhaps the one that is the most fun is an Indiana Jones-style adventure in six chapters spaced by other stories in the volume. Hardly in the limelight lately--as in other pop-culture fields, comics veterans are routinely sidelined in favor of hot newcomers--Williamson well deserves the tribute of this book. Gordon Flagg
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