Spotlight: Underground Comix Artist Skip Williamson
Featured in Yalla Vermont's café-gallery (80 Main St.) during July are selected works by the late Skip Williamson (1944-2017), generously on loan from his widow, Adrienne Morales. Mervyn "Skip" Williamson was an American underground cartoonist and central figure in the Underground Comix movement. His art appeared in National Lampoon, High Times, The Realist, Industrial Worker, Chicago Seed, Encyclopedia Britannica, and other publications.
Williamson moved to Chicago in 1967 and almost immediately teamed up with Jay Lynch to publish the underground newspaper The Chicago Mirror. In 1968, Williamson, Lynch, and Robert Crumb renamed it Bijou Funnies, which became one of the earliest and longest-running underground comix titles. Williamson's character Snappy Sammy Smoot became popular enough to appear (played by Carl Reiner) on the 1960s television program "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In."
During the 1970s and 1980s, Williamson art-directed and contributed work to men's magazines. In 1973 he was art director of Gallery Magazine, where he created the "Girl Next Door" concept by publishing snapshots of sweethearts and wives sent in by readers. In 1974 he became founding art director of Hustler, and in 1976 he joined the staff of Playboy. There he created the popular "Playboy Funnies" section and introduced millions of readers to his characters Neon Vincent and the "postmodern" couple Nell 'n' Void.
Williamson designed album covers for blues artists like Albert Collins (Cold Snap, 1986), Koko Taylor (An Audience with the Queen, 1987), Little Charlie and the Nightcats (All the Way Crazy, 1987) and Mudcat (You Better Mind, 2013). For the band Wilderness Road he drew a special comic book, Snuk Comics, to promote them.
In later years, Williamson concentrated on producing large canvases depicting political social abomination and political treachery.
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