There’s a certain magic in discovering the sketchbook of a master. You see his methods, the aborted attempts, the casual greatness. You can pretend even for just a minute that you can draw that well.

Al Williamson is best known for his work illustrating Flash Gordon and the Star Wars comics, as well as his early work for EC. This first themed volume of his sketches culls work mostly involving barbarians, comely cavegirls and dinosaurs, as well as a few unused Western pages.

The reproductions are incredibly faithful, right down to the yellowing paper. Included are preliminary sketches and inks, figure studies and unfinished pages. One of the most interesting pieces is a side-by-side comparison between a page from an unpublished Xenozoic Tales and the photo references for each panel.

It’s a fascinating look into the work of one of the greats.

Grade: A-

Al Williamson Archives, Vol. 1 is currently available.