cover image Al Williamson Adventures

Al Williamson Adventures

Bruce Jones, Mark Schultz, Harlan Ellison, et al. . Insight Studio Group, $34.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-889317-17-5

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? (July)