Al Williamson. American cartoonist, comic book artist and illustrator specializing in adventure, Western and science-fiction/fantasy passed away yesterday at the age of 79. Born in New York City in 1931 before moving to his father's home in Bogotá, Colombia for most of his youth, Williamson is a member in what might be called comics second great generation who came into the industry at the latter end of the medium's Golden Age – a group that included Williamson's friend and collaborator Frank Frazetta.
His career began in his teens after the reestablished New Yorker began taking classes from "Tarzan" artist Burne Hogarth as part of what would become the School of Visual Arts.
Throughout the late 1940s, Williamson earned early penciling and inking gigs on various science fiction and western comics for smaller publishers like the American Comics Group and Fawcett Comics.
Williamson's star-making break came in the 1950s after his peers and future comics legends Wally Wood and Joe Orlando helped the artist become established at EC Comics. There, he drew many of the iconic publisher's sci-fi themed magazines including "Weird Science."
Science fiction would remain the artist's calling card over the rest of his career with the most striking examples of his illustrative prowess coming in the '60s when Williamson drew acclaimed issues of the "Flash Gordon" comic book – later editing the first book on "Flash Gordon" creator and boyhood favorite Alex Raymond – and eventually drawing the adaptation of "The Empire Strikes Back" for Marvel in the early '80s. Williamson also contributed to the comic strip medium with a run on Raymond's spy serial "Secret Agent X-9" along with writer and editor Archie Goodwin, whom he also worked with on Warren's classic horror titles "Creepy" and "Eerie." IDW will publish a collection of the pair's "X-9" work in July.
The artist continued to work in comics through the '90s as an inker for Marvel Comics with notable runs on "Daredevil" and "Spider-Man 2099." His final published work was a 2009 "Sub-Mariner 70th Anniversary Special" story, though that penciling effort had been completed ten years earlier.As of this writing, the cause of Mr. Williamson's death has not yet been disclosed.