We’ve lost yet another legendary cartoonist, underground pioneers Skip Williamson, 73, whose Snappy Sammy Smoot was the best known of his creations. Patrick Rozenkrantz, the Boswell of the underground movement has the detailed obituary and appreciation::
Williamson’s underground style, steeped in Art Deco flatness and crammed with calculatedly unhip scatology (“Holy cow! Some elephant doody!”), carried the same joyful resonance―the love of doing comix that nobody would’ve dared to do 10 years earlier―that sparks Crumb’s early work. But where Crumb’s primary comics aim was introspective, concerned with the character of those living through the ’60s (himself included, of course), Williamson took a broader look, skewering both left-wing trendiness and rightwing overreaction to a time of much-publicized leftwing trendiness. Crumb’s approach may have been more personal, more artistically “legitimate,” but to those of us struggling to make sense of the sociopolitical chaos, Williamson was frequently the funnier.
Williamson’s death was the subject of some confusion on social media and while I don’t usually make a note of the complications of death, Williamson’s seems to have been sufficiently odd:
The official cause of death was renal failure and complications from heart disease and diabetes, but it was an antibiotic that killed him, according to Adrienne, who declared, “He was in perfect health before he went into the hospital.” She described how Skip recently cut a toe while trimming his nails with his antique Confederate-era jackknife. It became infected and swollen and a local doctor prescribed Bactrin, which damaged his liver and kidneys. The doctors in Albany were trying to counter the effects of the medication when he died.
The moral of this may be don’t cut your toenails with an antique jackknife.
The cartoonist Seth once put on a particularly lugubrious and haunting slideshow that contrasted great cartoonists with their sad, impoverished passings, all narrated in Seth’s unforgettably grim drone. I think he has a few to update.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.