Burroughs Artist: Roy G. Krenkel


Edgar Rice Burroughs would turn one hundred and forty-three today. Since I have yet to pen "Part Two" of my centennial tribute to Roy G. Krenkel, I thought it apropos to at least look briefly at the treasure trove of ERBian art that flowed from RGK's prolific pen and brush.

As revealed in the excellent "RGK: Burroughs Artist" from 1964, Roy started reading ERB around the age of ten and always considered Burroughs his favorite author. Don Wollheim, after seeing RGK's work in Amra, gave Krenkel a chance to fulfill a life-long dream: he offered Roy a contract do covers and illustrations for Ace's new line of ERB paperbacks. RGK accepted immediately and got to work, with his first cover and illos being for The Moon Maid. From 1962 through 1964, Roy worked tirelessly, crafting one classic Burroughs cover after another, not just for Ace, but Canaveral Press as well. The "Burroughs Boom" that followed was powered to some extent by RGK's action-packed, atmospheric art. 

Roy's efforts were rewarded with a Hugo for Best Professional Artist in 1963--back when a Hugo meant something. Krenkel, who only started doing book covers in 1962, beat out veteran heavyweights like Virgil Finlay and Ed Emshwiller for the award. Roy considered his best Ace cover to be the one he painted for The Mastermind of Mars.


After 1964, Krenkel kind of drifted off to Lancer Books, following his good friend, Frank Frazetta. However, he continued producing ERBian art for fanzines such as ERB-dom, going so far as to create the logo for its publisher, Caz Cazedessus. In 1970, he returned to Ace and Carson of Venus one last time for The Wizard of Venus. After that, Roy's ERBian work consisted mainly of sketches he sold to fanzines or sold straight to collectors at conventions. However, those sketches represented a huge cache of art, since Roy was constantly drawing. It wouldn't surprise me if Roy wasn't creating Burroughs-inspired art almost until the day he died.

Bill Hillman over at ERBzine.com has done a great job of archiving Roy's Burroughs-related work. You can find some of it herehere and here.

Some of RGK's art for ERB-dom--including the logo--can be found herehere and here.

Roy G. Krenkel bestowed a priceless legacy upon the fans of ERB and all lovers of imaginative art. Not bad for a self-described "doodler."