Cathy and Arnie Fenner have announced on the Spectrum Fantastic Art website that Al Williamson is the 2010 recipient of the Spectrum Grand Master Award! A short biography and the official news release can be read here.
The Grand Master Award is presented annually to an individual whose art has been acknowledged as being superior, coupled with a career that has been influential to the fantastic genre. A full biography and appreciation will appear in Spectrum 17, available later this fall 2010.
Update: The following is the official press release.
Spectrum Press Notice 9-21-10
For immediate Release
AL WILLIAMSON: Spectrum Grand Master
Cathy Fenner, co-director of Spectrum Fantastic Art, today announced that the recipient of the 2010 Spectrum Grand Master Award is legendary artist, Al Williamson.
Born March 21, 1931 in Manhattan, Al Williamson spent much of his youth in Bogotá, Columbia; he returned to the States in 1943 and eventually resettled in New York. A deep interest in comics < and particularly the works of Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond < led him to enroll in the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (the forerunner to the School of Visual Arts) where he studied under Burne Hogarth and met and befriended Roy Krenkel and Wally Wood. He quickly began working in the comics industry and gained recognition for his science-fiction/heroic fantasy art for the EC Comics Weird Science and Weird Fantasy in the 1950s. In the 1960s he became famous for carrying on Raymond’s illustrative tradition with his work on the Flash Gordon comic-book series for King Features and was a seminal contributor to Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror comics magazines, Creepy and Eerie. Williamson spent most of the 1970s drawing his own strip (from scripts by Archie Goodwin), Secret Agent X-9 (which coincidentally was another Raymond creation); in the ’80s he became known for his work adapting the Star Wars films for newspaper strips. From the mid-1980s to 2003 he was primarily active as an inker < mainly on Marvel Comics superhero titles featuring Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Spider-Girl. Early in his career Williamson often collaborated with other artists including Frank Frazetta, Krenkel, Angelo Torres, George Woodbridge, and George Evans; after he became established he also helped fellow artists that were down on their luck by hiring them to assist on jobs or steering clients in their direction. Williamson has been cited as a stylistic influence on a number of younger artists and nurtured and encouraged many. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2000.
Long considered an “artist’s artist,” Williamson’s friend and fellow illustrator Mark Schultz says, ³What made his work unique is that he incorporated the fluid motion of cinema into his drawings. No other illustrator or cartoonist has approached his ability to create an illusion of action.² Flesk Publications has recently produced several books by Al, including Al Williamson¹s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic and Al Williamson Archives Vol. 1. Al Williamson Archives Vol. 2 will be released in 2011. An exhibit of his art will be on display October 8th – October 12th at the Mahady Gallery, Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Opening reception is Friday, October 8th 6-9 PM. Directions found at http://cwis.marywood.edu/galleries
The Grand Master Award is presented annually to a living artist whose career excellence has proven to be an influence on both readers and fellow artists; sadly, Al Williamson passed away June 12 this year. “The Advisory Board selected Al for this honor back in February,” Cathy notes. “So while this announcement is being made several months after Al’s death, he was very much with us when the decision was made that he be this year’s honoree. It’s appropriate that his award be both a recognition and a remembrance of an important artist and member of the arts community.”
Past recipients of the Spectrum Grand Master Award are Frank Frazetta, Don Ivan Punchatz, Leo and Diane Dillon, James E. Bama, John Berkey, Alan Lee, Jean Giraud, Kinuko Y. Craft, Michael William Kaluta, Michael Whelan, H.R. Giger, Jeffrey Jones, Syd Mead, John Jude Palencar, and Richard V. Corben.
An Al Williamson biography and appreciation will appear in Spectrum 17.
Spectrum: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art was established in 1993 with the intent of providing creators with a regular showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and imaginative artwork created each year.
A “Call For Entries” was mailed to the arts community and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A blue-ribbon jury convened to make selections from the work submitted and the results appeared in the first full color book, Spectrum 1, published by Underwood Books in 1994. Quickly becoming a visual who’s-who for the fantastic art field, a new installment in the Spectrum series has appeared every year since. Spectrum 17 will be available in bookstores in November, 2010.
For additional information about Spectrum, please visit the official website: http://www.spectrumfantasticart.com/