This first compendium in a new series is the perfect introduction to Al Williamson’s work. You will find samples that span his fifty-year career along with anecdotes and historical details salted throughout. Cover art, interior pages, drawings and sketches—plus photographs of Al and his friends posing as reference for his sequential art—are included. This volume contains a mixture of both his most obscure and best-known works, all meticulously reproduced from the original art.
Until now, this captivating original artwork has only been seen by those fortunate enough to visit the Williamson studio in person. For the first time, readers will be able to view the artist’s most cherished works. Williamson’s love of 1920s and 1930s adventure, fantasy and science-fiction pop culture—and his admiration of artists such as Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond—grounded his drawing technique and storytelling, which evolved throughout his life. He was able to take these inspirations and carry on the legacy of the past masters while becoming a unique icon in the industry. In this collection, readers will be able to witness Williamson’s development as an artist.
- Flesk Publications, May 26 2021
- ISBN 978-1-64041-040-4
- 9.75″ x 13″, 128 pages, hardcover
- $49.95 USD HC
- Order online: Flesk, eBay
As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc.), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.
John Fleskes states in the afterword “Al Williamson Strange World Adventures is the first in a series of collections that will form a comprehensive look at Al’s life and work. This first volume gives you an introductory glimpse that spans the late 1940s to the early 2000s“. And that is accomplished with aplomb, with sections dedicated to different periods of his career. There’s a foreword by William Stout, an introduction by Rick Veitch, and an afterword by John Fleskes.
The sections of the book covering Williamson’s career are early work, EC Comics, Savage World, Atlas Comics, Flash Gordon, Warren Publishing, Secret Agent X-9, Star Wars, later work. Early work and later work don’t have introductions or headers; they just flow from the previous sections.
This book is all scans of original art, presented in the AE format at the reduced dimensions of this volume. All scans are clear and without visual issues. It’s a remarkable period of time and the art ranges from light tanning to brown. Margin notes, correction fluid, red pen, and paste-ups throughout. Blacks show gradients.
I’m reviewing the hardcover version, which is still available directly from the publisher. There was a softcover version offered through Diamond but that is sold out; you may still find it at your local comic shop.
The design is straightforward and focused on presenting the original art. Most pieces have from a sentence to a paragraph providing the comic, issue, date, and pages, plus some keen insights. There are page numbers along on the bottom outside edge unless the artwork is full page, but there is no table of contents. Some excellent panel enlargements showing off exceptional artwork.
The production is superb: a sewn binding of very heavy matter paper, practically cardstock. The book lies open after smoothing the center unless it’s where the signatures meet and are glued.
As always I use the book’s colophon for the proper title. There is no colon between Williamson and Strange but there is on the book’s webpage from the publisher.
There are some amazing pieces of art in this volume, but the standout for me is the X-9 story from Flash Gordon issue 4: Williamson channelling his best Alex Raymond. And that taste of Blade Runner art makes me hope for more. I’m hoping future volumes will focus on each specific period of Williamson’s career with a volume for each.