Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Illustrators of Robert E. Howard: Weird Tales

I've dug out an old project from a few years back tentatively titled The Illustrators of Robert E. Howard and have decided to finish it up in time for Howard Days 2010, where the focus is on Howard illustrators.

I haven't decided whether this will be a color or black and white book, but while I work on it, I'll be posting some rough samples here.

I'll begin by covering the artists who illustrated Howard's work for Weird Tales.

Installment One - E. M. Stevenson, Wolfshead, Weird Tales April 1926

The first time a Howard yarn was illustrated was in his third appearance in Weird Tales, "Wolfshead."

Howard had his first cover for "Wolfshead," done by E. M. Stevenson, a forgotten artist who failed to make a mark in the weird genre.

Howard had to rewrite “Wolfshead.”

In January of 1926, he got a desperate letter from Wright:

“...I hope you have a carbon copy of "Wolfshead." If so, will you please forward it to me at once by special delivery?

“The reason for this request is this: — Every bit of copy for the April issue is set except The Eyrie (which I hold off until the last minute) and "Wolfshead"; and so far the artist has not sent me the manuscript of "Wolfshead." He sent me the black and white art heading last week, and today I wired him to rush the manuscript to me, as the cover (I enclose an engraver’s proof) is on the press and I cannot possibly substitute another story for it now. I do not know that he has lost it, but it should have been in my hands last week, and I haven’t got the ms. to give to the printer. If it should turn out to be lost, and you haven’t a carbon copy, then Lord help us! The artist (E. M. Stevenson, of New York) has done so good a job on the "Wolfshead" cover that I have commissioned him to do the June and July covers for us.

If you receive a sudden wire from me, you will know that I have heard from the artist and that he has mislaid or lost the ms. (something that has never occurred on W. T. so far); but to hasten matters, I will be grateful if you will rush the carbon copy to me any Way, at once. Will you do this?”

Howard didn’t have a carbon for the story. He had to rewrite the story from memory. The original turned up a few days later. Howard got an extra ten dollars for doing the rewrite, and Wright also informed him that he was doubling his word rate.

Stevenson only did four other covers for Weird Tales, and he was gone, as the magazine started to develop a visual identity and found artists who were both more talented and more suited to the needs of the magazine.

1 comment: