Twenty four hours ago, I gave a lecture at Amherst College during the Illustration Master Class. While showing images from famous and favorite artists who have influenced my paintings since childhood, one black and white panel glowed in the darkened auditorium from a favorite comic series of Flash Gordon.
This single isolated figure of Flash, about to throw a spear at an attacking pterosaur, has inspired my sense of action, drama, and point of view from my small beginnings. It floated in an unframed white corner of a page of magnificent wild creatures and damsels, yet drawn with the perfect amount of realism to send my mind out into space, and into the future. This is where I wanted to live. And Al Williamson took me there.
For every action piece I have ever endeavored to bring that kind of life to, I owe him the gratitude and respect for setting me straight on how to capture the viewer and hold them in my imaginative grasp. That single panel alone has driven much of my interest in depicting humans in jeopardy.
Soon after the lecture, a student-friend told me Al had passed away that day. I mourn the loss of yet another of my distant, but familiar heroes.
Thanks, Al, for all the adventures.
Gregory Manchess is an artist and writer living in Portland and New York, and occasionally Mongo.