Roy G. Krenkel would have turned one hundred on July 11. I was quite busy with real world issues at that point, but I figured that someone out there somewhere would do a substantial centennial write-up. The other day I performed a fairly rigorous internet search and found nothing, more or less. I resolved to do my own write-up on Sunday, only to face internet/computer malfunctions that were finally cleared up mere hours ago. Lo, though the Weavers of Fate themselves stand against me, I will speak of RGK and why he should be remembered.
I first encountered Roy's work at the age of eight on the shelves of my local public library. From the start of the Burroughs Boom, my librarian had diligently purchased ERB volumes (thanks, Mrs. Carpenter!). Among those was the classic Canaveral edition of The Cave Girl. Fresh from reading Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar and Tarzan and the Lost Empire, this looked like something cool and a little different. Subhumans, monsters and hot chicks on a lost island! The cover really grabbed me, as did the interior illos. I looked for the name of the artist: Roy G. Krenkel.
Not long after, I bought a copy of The Eternal Savage, another Burroughs novel with monsters and cave girls. Upon looking for the name of the cover artist, I discovered that Roy had struck again.
I was quite the ERB freak in my preteen years, so when I found out that DAW Books had published a novel by Philip Jose Farmer set in ancient Opar, I had to track down a used copy. Wollheim was the guy who gave Krenkel his first job illustrating ERB paperbacks, and he obviously thought Roy was the natural choice for Hadon of Ancient Opar. As usual, the cover and illos were legit.
While I was a fan of both ERB and Robert E. Howard in my preteen years, my interest in REH became more dominant when I started junior high. As a freshman in high school, I bought the Zebra edition of The Sowers of the Thunder. The gorgeous cover was by Jeff Jones, but the Krenkel intro and illustrations had been carried over from the original DMG edition. Roy's introduction is still beloved in hard-core REH fandom and his illos capture the frenetic intensity of Howard's stories.
Roy died in 1983. I thought he was still alive until I found out differently at a comics conference in 1990. I've continued to collect his work here and there in the decades since, including his masterful illustrations presented in Great Cities of the Ancient World and in sundry issues of Amra.
Well, I've told my story of why I, personally, remember Roy Krenkel. Part Two will explain why all of us ought to remember RGK for his influence on--and numerous contributions to--comics, SFF art and film animation.