Sunday, April 1, 2007

Third Rail Magazine: Al Williamson Sketches

I found a small stash of fanzines in the junkyard a few weeks ago. I have no idea where or when I picked them up. There’s some interesting stuff in there which I’ll rummage through for your amusement and benefit in due course, including some interesting comments in a few issues of The Australian Comic Collector.

I just wanted to mention this issue of Third Rail Magazine as a follow-up to my Al Williamson comments yesterday. The only background information I have is based on Steve Bissette’s post which I’ll quote in a slab here:

This handsome black-and-white fanzine dates from June, 1981, and is chock-full of fantastic art and stories. Lovingly designed, packaged, and printed by my old Kubert School classmate Ken Feduniewicz …Third Rail was Ken's answer to (and entry in) the cream-of-the-crop fanzine circle personified by Spa-Fon, Squa Tront, Graphic Showcase, and others.
This sturdy zine showcases a fine illustrated interview with artist extraordinaire Al Williamson, featuring never-printed-before or since sketches by the master himself... I'm proud to be in here, too, with the first printing of my first dinosaur story, "Scraps." Sure, it's been reprinted since (in Bedlam! and SpiderBaby Comix #1), but this remains its finest presentation ever -- beautifully reproduced on heavy-stock white paper when the original art was brand-new (i.e., before the Duo-Shade toning faded -- and before Eclipse Comics man-handled the double-page spread, necessitating considerable repair and redrawing work).
The dramatic two-color (blue and sepia ink on a heavy cream-color stock) front cover is a 1950s jam piece by Al Williamson and Wally Wood, pitting one of Wood's trademark saurian monsters against one of Al's trademark Buster Crabbe-inspired space hero.

Well, now you know what I know about the background to this fanzine!

I just found it interesting that even when it comes to 'The Fanzine Treatment' or 'secondary' sketch work Williamson’s art still warrants the high production values. Williamson’s sketches in this mag are wonderful, vibrant and alive to the artist's hand. And contrary to the dropouts mentioned yesterday in relation to the printing, in these sketches it's a privilege to see lines suggested but not necessarily fulfilled, to allow one's eye to be directed and carried along a line and left to complete the journey with its own momentum. Deft beautiful stuff.

And Bissette’s own work comes up a treat, rich and rugged, presented as originally drawn and intended to be seen. But I like Bissette on newsprint just fine. And he's the only reason I've read a dinosaur comic in the last 10 years!

I’ll just mention that by following the link above to Bissette’s web page you'll find he is offering signed copies of Third Rail. No idea if the offer is still current, but I feel it’s only fair I direct you to him given I’ve leaned heavily on his efforts for today’s blog.

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