Thursday, January 14, 2010
Where Have I Seen That Before?
When I opened the latest mailing of REHupa last month, I looked at the cover and got this really weird feeling that I'd seen it someplace before. I forgot about it, and a few days ago, while looking for something on my shelves, I realized why it looked so familiar to me. Four years earlier, I'd used the same piece of art and the same font on a book I did and quickly forgot. I printed half a dozen copies of it and handed them out for Howard Days in Cross Plains during that amazing gathering in 2006. In the fall of that year, I discovered that I'd accidentally had it up for sale for a couple of months on lulu.com, and it had sold about a dozen copies. I suppose it is certainly going to be a collectible, but it is certainly not a good reference book. The title was The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. It was an update of the bibliography that had been published in The Howard Review # 13, and like its predecessor, it was in serious need of a proper proofing.
The font type was Auriol, and I came across it while researching projects on the legendary artist J. Allen St. John. It was the creation of the artist Georges Auriol and made its first appearance in 1901. It was highly influential on St. John's now famous lettering style, so familiar on a number of books published in the early quarter of the twentieth century by the Chicago based publisher A. C. McClurg. McClurg even paid St. John to do his lettering on cover paintings by other artists.
His most recognizable work is the logo used by Weird Tales magazine from the Howard era up until just a couple of years ago. Fans of the original Weird Tales were no doubt overjoyed when the current watered down lame version of the magazine finally stopped using the classic logo.
I have used the font myself on several St. John and Robert E. Howard projects.
I love Roy G. Krenkel's art. The source for my full color cover art was a limited edition art print done in conjunction with the publication of The Road to Azrael. The REHupa cover appears to be from the 3 color endpaper for the book. As a very serious Krenkel fan, I think that cropping a great piece of art like this is much akin to doing a pan and scan version of a cinemascope movie. The original artist's vision is completely mutilated. Fortunately, few will see this, unless you count the copy that one particular REHupan will no doubt have up for sale on eBay before the toner is even dry.