Inspired by the work of Alex Raymond, Williamson took art classes with Tarzan artist Burne Hogarth, and later studied at Hogarth's Cartoonists and Illustrators school, where he met fellow future EC artists Roy Krenkle and Wally Wood. After working for publishers such as American Comics Group (ACG), Avon, Fawcett and Standard, Wiliamson started working at the renowned EC Comics. While there he often worked with Frank Frazetta, Angelo Torres and Roy Krenkel in a group affectionately known as the 'Fleagle Gang'. Willamson's talents were put to good use at EC, notably on the science fiction titles Weird Fantasy, Weird Science and Weird Science Fantasy. Working from stories by editor Al Feldstein, as well as adaptations of stories by well known writers such as Ray Bradbury, Williamson provided page after page of detailed, superblative art.
From 1955 to 1957, he also worked for Marvel Comics, then still known as Atlas. He produced many short three to five page stories, including a stint on the Jann Of The Jungle strip.
In the sixties, with work in the comic book field at a low, Al turned to the newspaper strip where he worked as an assistant to John Prentice on the Rip Kirby strip. This would last for three years and certainly proved to be a good training ground for when he himself would work on a strip of his own.
He returned to comics in 1965 doing one stories for Gold Key titles such as Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery and The Twilight Zone, and also helped launch the B&W horror magazines Creepy and Eerie for Warren Publishing.
1966 proved to be a great year for Williamson as he was asked to draw the first issue of a new Flash Gordon comic book series. He returned to aso draw issues 4 and 5 and was awarded the Best Comic Book award by the National Cartoonist Society for his work. In addition, it was on the basis of his work for Flash Gordon that he was offered the chance to work on the Secret Agent X-9 newspaper strip.
Secret Agent Corrigan, as the strip was rechristened, reunited Williamson with writer Archie Goodwin and together the two produced a more than a decade of exciting daily adventure. His art here was at it's peak (sorry EC fans) and is shortly to be collected in a series of collections by IDW publishing.
During this time Wiliamson continued to do comic book work, including more work for The Twilight Zone, Creepy and Eerie as well as tales for DC Comics mystery anthology House Of Mystery. In addition he encouraged young up and coming artists such as Mike Kaluta and Berni Wrightson and helped them break into the comic business.
Al left Secret Agent Corrigan in 1980, he and Goodwin took on the comic book adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back and then turned his hand, again with Goodwin, to the Star Wars newspaper strip until it's cancellation in 1983.
From the mid 1980s onwards Wiliamson had worked primarily as an inker, working with pencilers as diverse as Mike Mignola, John Romita Jr., and Gene Colan. As an inker he won no less than nine industry awards.
His influence on the industry cannot be measured. His artwork alone puts him among the greats, but his encouragement of other artists such as Kaluta and Wrightson, and the fact that he has been cited by many others, including Dave Gibbons, Mark Schultz, Tony Harris and Frank Cho, as an influence elevates his standing in the industry even higher.
Rest In Peace Al.