Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A couple of more thoughts on Al Williamson....bare with me...

I think one of the things I thought about as I heard about Al Williamson's death was the fact that the world lost a working man's artist.
Bare with me as I try to feebly try to explain my thoughts. When I discovered Al Williamson's art he was still a current comic artist. Everything I ever read or knew about the man stated he loved comics. I was lucky enough to buy the king Flash Gordon's he did right off the rack in the little west texas town I grew up in. He graced the pages of Creepy and other mags I bought. He seemed to me like he really loved doing comics. Hence, to me a working man's artist. I talked to him, or rather was a listener at a conversation he was having with some other pros at a comics convention in Dallas one year. And it seemed to me like he did really love comics, his fans, and telling stories. Not only did his linework and graceful artwork fire my imagination, but he worked where ever and when ever he could, it seemed to me.
On the other hand someone like Frazetta, who has died recently too and what got me to thinking about this point stuck in my brain, seemed to not really enjoy the work he did. Please understand me, I am not down playing Frazetta's work or anything. Just that all the stories I have read about Frazetta seem really weird to me. Times he would put off a deadline, and dry the paintings in the oven so he could ship them off at the last minute. He always seemed to want to play baseball instead of work. By the time I could read and buy comics Frazetta was done with them. Oh, I saw the odd EC title sometimes in other kids collections and would see his work, which again is great - don't get me wrong I love both artist's work.
I guess I am just weird this way....like I heard stories about Warhol or Picasso having others do the work and they signed the art that was kind of mass produced. I always kind of felt that if Frazetta could find anyone to do that he might have tried it. Again these are just my feelings welling to the surface over the world losing both of these guys in such a short period.
It is kind of the same feeling about two other icons, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. When I was a kid you rarely ever saw a Disney cartoon. Sometimes before a movie, and sometimes on the Disney show on sunday nights. But it seemed as everywhere I looked there was a Warner Bros. cartoon. Either Daffy or Bugs would be in front of every movie. So of course the point I am trying to make with this is that I ended up liking Warner Bros. cartoons better than Disney ones. Mickey actually never appealed to me, the animation was awesome, just the character didn't do too much for me. Maybe if there were more of the cartoons I might have liked them better.
I see some artists at cons with what I like to call the PrimaDonna sickness. I am sure you can tell where this is going. I think of some of these guys in a room in Oz saying 'I am the great and powerful....(insert name here)....bow before me!' I see them barely put up with fans, just so they can get money from them. I am sure you have heard stories or seen artists or celebrities like this. It happens, I understand it. I just don't like it.
I know I am rambling about this, but just something I thought about, and something that bothers me.
My point being that Al's death hit me pretty hard. I knew he had been sick from talking with Mark Schultz and Tom Yeates and even that made me really sad. But I really admired Al Williamson, he seemed to love comics, come up through the ranks, and worked really hard at his comics.
I admire people like that and tend to pass on the people that are just doing comics til something better comes along.
I apologize if no one reading this feels that way, and I don't slight any artist work based on that, just the personalities behind the work sometime creeps into my admiration of the work.
I tend to admire the working man's artist type, since I have to really work at it just to make each drawing a little bit better than the last one.
Sorry for rambling........


  1. I do believe I have some of Mr. Williamson's art floating around in my comic collection, most likely reprints though considering my budget at the time.

    I do think I know what you mean when you were talking about how you felt about their art, my analogy was more like describing watching a movie...

    How you can tell when an actor is just having a blast playing a part & doesn't want to stop and when he's just slogging through it to get it done and over with.

    The temperament shows in the work and definitely effects how the viewer interprets it.

  2. Tom, You are not rambling, you are finding it hard to find the words you want to express. I think your point is clear. Just like your work, if you enjoy the work as Al did, it shows.

    Your love and respect of Al's work, is tribute enough, but I like it that you say it. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for rambling dude, I enjoyed it and found it personal without slighting anyone. I totally understand what you are saying, and I'd agree. It seemed to me also that Frazetta just took his artistic gift as a given, but would just as soon be doing something else, though he did create some amazing art.

    I think I first ran into Williamson's artwork in some of those 80's anthologized comics like in Death Rattle or some other comics like that. I later found some of the Star Wars graphic novels he'd done, and remember him signing some stuff of mine at the Dallas Cons. He was a very approachable, friendly guy. Sorry he passed, I didn't know about it until I read your post.

  4. I feel very much the same as you do about this, pal. But, then, that's no great surprise. You stated it very well.

  5. Thanks everyone for understanding. I do tend to just get on here and ramble sometimes when I get a feeling too. I knew my loyal Legionnaires would know what I was talking about.....thanks.