Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bill Williams – Comic Artist



by John Adcock

Bill Williams was an exceptional cartoonist, and an ink-slinger about whom remarkably little is known. Searches on the internet give his birth-date as November 30, 1917, but nowhere is the source provided.
[1] GI Jane advertisement, Bill Williams, 1955
I did find a reference to an interview in a paragraph in the SC Bulletin, Wilton, Conn., dated July 3, 2002, which sheds some light on his early years
People in the news. 
In an interview, cartoonist Alfred O. Williams of Wilton spoke about his days working for Walt Disney when he did the penciling part of animation productions. His subjects were Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and others. Among the animated feature films he worked on were Fantasia and Dumbo. He also did layouts for MGM for the Tom and Jerry series and Hanna and Barbera.
[2] Henry Aldrich No. 22, Sept/Oct 1954
Bill Williams drew a lot of comic books, specializing in teenagers and sexy women. His earliest work was reportedly on Phantom Lady drawn for Jerry Iger’s studio. In 1950 he began drawing Henry Aldrich, his work appearing from the first issue in 1950 to the 22 issue of Sept/Oct 1954. John Stanley wrote the scripts.

[3] Farmer's Daughter Feb/Mar 1954
Williams contributed to Millie the Model comics for Timely, and GI Jane, The Farmer’s Daughter and Broadway/Hollywood Blackouts for Stanhall (1953-1955). Hal Seeger was Stanhall’s editor, Adolphe Barreaux (Sally the Sleuth) executive editor. The Farmer’s Daughter seems the likely progenitor of the sixties Dell beatnik comic book Kookie.
[4] G.I. Jane, Hal Seeger and Bill Williams, 1954
Frank M. Young believes Williams may have drawn the occasional Little Lulu. Bill Williams is probably best remembered by writers and readers of my age for eight issues of Around the Block with Dunc & Loo (Oct/Dec 1961, simplified to Dunc & Loo for issue no. 4) with writer John Stanley (Little Lulu) for Dell/Western publishing. 

[5] First issue of Kookie, Bill Williams
Dunc & Loo was followed by Stanley/Williams Kookie, a short-lived beatnik comic begun Feb/April 1962. He also drew Bullwinkle comic book advertisements for Cheerios.

[6] Advertisement. Bill Williams
Johnstone and Cushing created the first Boy’s Life comic features in 1950, scattered throughout the pages of BL. They were a mixture of comic strip ads and comic strips, among them Kit Carson by Ames, and Scouts in Action by Stan Pashko and John Sink. The first real Boy’s Life comic section, concentrated in one sector, began in 1952 and featured humorous, serious, Christian and educational comics. These inserts were created by the art director of Johnstone and Cushing, Alfred B. Stenzel (1897-1979), a talented artist, designer and writer. Al Stenzel took over the Boy’s Life contract from the Boy Scouts in 1962 - soon after Johnstone and Cushing closed shop.

[7] Pee Wee Harris, Bill Williams, March 1959
Pee Wee Harris, based on Percy K. Fitzhugh’s popular series of children’s books, made his first appearance in comic strip form in the September 1, 1952 issue. Fitzhugh was credited with the comic, but he had died in 1950. For many years Pee Wee Harris and virtually every Boy’s Life comic feature was written by Al Stenzel. Usually anonymous; sometimes credited as “Alsten.”

[8] Boy's Life, Bill Williams, March 1959
Almost from the beginning the art was by Alfred O. Williams, familiarly known as “Bill” Williams. His name first appeared attached to the fifth episode in January 1953.

[9] Farmer's Daughter Feb/Mar 1954
Frank Bolle, a regular artist for the Catholic comic Treasure Chest took over Pee Wee Harris and the Tracy Twins (originally by Dik Browne) when Al Stenzel passed on in 1979. Mike Adair drew Pee Wee Harris from November 1997 on.

[10] Dunc & Loo, Oct/Dec 1961
Cartoonist Frank Hill (Short Ribs) recalled Bill Williams as one of the artists on Dennis the Menace comic books, including the series Dennis and the Bible Kids, from 1977 to 1980, before Marvel took on production.
[11] PX Pete, Bill Williams, GI Jane 1954

[12] Boy's Life illustration, July 1957



2 comments:

  1. Great research, interesting reading. Bill Williams was a good friend of mine in Connecticut. I don't know many facts I can add, but I will think, and come up with some artwork too. Good job, John!

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  2. Bill Williams also drew the daily panel "Dolly" from April 19, 1965 to 1971 for Hall Syndicate. (Dates from Holtz.)

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