Skip Williamson Hears the Music

« Taste the sweetness of Destiny, racist pig!* »

The Old Underground Hall of Legends took some bad hits in 2017, with the losses, within less than a couple of weeks, of Jay Lynch (January 7, 1945 – March 5, 2017) and Mervyn “Skip” Williamson  (August 19, 1944 – March 16, 2017). Skip, in fact, would have turned seventy-four today.

Again, we’re dealing with an artist with a long and nomadic career, so it’s best to think small. There’s plenty of excellent, in-depth biographical material on the subject already out there, so I’ll scare up a few scarce items that reflect Skip’s lifelong love of (and involvement with) music.

SkipDylanA
« Right now I’d like to do an original composition which deals with the basic existentialistic thought and parallels between the works of Kafka, Tillich, and Buber in relation to the ‘I-Thou’ concept, and which has just been covered by the Rolling Stones…» Underground comix provocateur Mervyn “Skip” Williamson (born 1944 in San Antonio, TX) takes a witty jab at noted self-mythologist Robert Allen “Bob Dylan” Zimmerman. From the March, 1967 issue of Escapade (incorporating Gentleman!), likely a Charlton Publications product (“Second class postage paid at Derby, Conn.”), a factoid that may someday help you win a bet.
Snuk1A
« Snuk Comix no. 1 (Skip Williamson, 1970). Extremely rare comic book created for the band Wilderness Road, by Underground Comix artist Skip Williamson. The story is that the printer objected to drug references, and would not deliver the printed comics; Skip managed to grab a few copies before the run was destroyed. As of 2003, only two copies were known to exist; while there have been a few more found since that time, the number of existing copies is staggeringly small… » Typical boorish behaviour on the part of the printer. Most people are unaware of the power that printers held and frequently abused before the salutary advent of digital print. Guys, *first* you nail the printing job (you call that registration?), *then* you indulge in moral grandstanding.
SkipW_Billy3MileA
1979 original art for a piece Williamson produced for Playboy magazine. « Now what », you may ask « Do Billy Joel and Three Mile Island have to do with one another? » Here’s one account: « Anne had a couple of his 8-tracks, and made plans to see him live at the Hershey Arena during his 1979 tour … plans that were thwarted by a little incident at a nuclear reactor near my home, Three Mile Island. See, when the accident happened, in March of ’79, people had to be evacuated. And those people had to go somewhere. And there just weren’t a whole lot of large buildings suitable for holding thousands of radioactive refugees in the area at that time, so The Hershey Arena had to be put to use, even if it meant canceling a few Hershey Bears games and a Billy Joel concert »

I was too young and in the wrong small town for Underground Comix to reach me back in the 1970s, but when Skip put together the « Playboy Funnies » section (featuring the likes of Bobby London, Jay Lynch, Chris Browne, Art Spiegelman…) for Mr. Hefner’s magazine, I in due course discovered his work since I read Playboy for the cartoons. I immediately took to Williamson’s stylish, bouncy, clean and friendly visuals, paired with his unflagging subversiveness. Not that I got much of said subversiveness at the time… but that’s how it works.

Happy birthday, Skip!

-RG

*Class War (Bijou Funnies no. 3, 1969 The Print Mint)