Roy G. Krenkel: Father of Heroic Fantasy – A Centennial Celebration

Roy G. Krenkel illustrated numerous works by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Lin Carter, and more. But many of Krenkles works-what he calls his “Doodles,” in a characteristically self-effacing manner-were rarely seen by even his biggest fans. And while many of Roy’s doodles were simple drawings, many were finished illustrations done for the pure pleasure of creating art. Most of the images in this book are published here for the very first time (courtesy of and with the full cooperation of the Krenkel Estate), and nearly all have been painstakingly scanned from the original art (in a manner akin to IDW’s Eisner Award-winning Artist’s Edition series) with the goal being to showcase Krenkel’s gorgeous original art in a way it has never been seen before. While the realms of science fiction, heroic fantasy, paleontology, and historical reconstruction were particular specialties of Roy’s, his pen, brush, and palette knew no boundaries.

This is a departure here for reviews on the Artist’s Edition Index as this is not a book of scanned comic art. But it includes comic art and it’s a book of scanned art so it should fit right in.

In case you skipped over it, go back and read the publisher’s blurb at the top of the page. This book is a collection of unpublished works, ranging from quick sketches to mostly completed paintings. The bulk of the material has never been seen by the public. Go through the photos here and decide if you’re happy with some rough and unfinished work.

We’re presented with two introductions, a foreword and an afterword. I’m not sure any of them enlightened me about Krenkel, and a biography of a few pages would have helped immensely. But this statement in the foreword sets the stage.

We are now prepared to step aside and let the pictures speak for themselves.

A page before that they said this about the shoulder notes, which is a term I hadn’t heard but appreciate learning notes accompanying images have a name.

A word on the shoulder notes accompanying the pictures – the editors compiling this volume have for the most part largely allowed the pictures to go unaccompanied by text as we feel the drawings can stand on their own.

A rough estimate on my part is 60% of the images in the book have shoulder notes. And that’s a good thing since these pieces are mostly unpublished and as readers, we can use the context and background information to put them into some context.

The material is organized into eleven chapters covering a wide variety of topics. It covers almost every conceivable medium, from pastels to ballpoint pens. The images vary in size, but almost all have a large white border. Unfortunately, we don’t know what size the originals are, but it all presents very well. A few scans were not quite clear but they were few and far between.

Mentions of illustrators that influenced Krenkel flow through the shoulder notes, but it was the images and how Krenkel influenced a generation of illustrators that struck me. A few pages could be Kaluta, others Jones, and so on. A rich heritage indeed.

Dahlk’s design harkens us back to the early days of magazines and pulps. Strong colour choices of browns, and more specific, sepias. I enjoyed the illustrated borders of the front matter, the way it appears laid over the piece of art. The interior pages are simple and unadorned with only the art, shoulder notes, and page numbers. The endpapers work beautifully as the images chosen enlarge well. And while I appreciate the look of the cover I wish it was leather and the corners were real brass!

Production is excellent. Heavy paper stock in a sewn binding. The matte paper stock plays well with the overall concept of the volume and its contents. The paper could have been heavier as we get bleedthrough when the previous page had an image larger than the current page, or if the opposite page’s image is darker.

I was wholely unfamiliar with Krenkel and this was my first exposure to his work. I bought this volume on the strength of Scott Dunbier’s commitment to original art, and I wasn’t disappointed. There are many pieces in here I don’t care for, but some that simply blow me away; I’ve included those in the images above. I haven’t become a fan after going through this volume several times, but I have formed an appreciation for the skill and craftsmanship displayed.