The Complete Drawings of REH?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
posted by Rob Roehm
Everyone’s seen Robert E. Howard’s hand-drawn maps of the Hyborian Age, but what about all the other doodles, comics, and pictures he drew? In the spring 1971 issue of The Howard Collector (#14) fans were treated to a postcard that Howard sent to Harold Preece. Other than Preece’s Fort Worth address and Howard’s signature X-triple-bar, there’s no writing, only a hand-drawn picture of what appears to be a grinning sailor.
Glenn Lord again presented a piece of Howard’s art in The Last Celt. In the back, with all the other rare oddities, is a profile view of a bearded gentleman labeled “REH as mythical Dane dream character Hrobjart Havard’s sen.” The drawing apparently comes from a letter written sometime in 1931, recipient unknown.
Other interesting drawings from Howard’s correspondence appeared in Joe Marek’s “New” Howard Reader series. The first number has the cowboy duo of “Relentless” Reginald and “Chorus-girl” Percival Vanderbilt; #4 has the drawings imbedded in Howard’s June 8, 1923 letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, a caveman comic strip and “The Flapper.” #5 includes the illustrated poem (“Palm-trees are waving in the gulf-breeze” that served as another letter to TCS, dated Sept. 7, 1924; finally, #7 includes the sombrero-wearing, mustached REH caricature that was sent to Novalyne Price on Valentine’s Day 1936. This drawing also appears in One Who Walked Alone.
All of the above drawings are included in The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, of course, but Volume 2 has the first appearance of a stick-figure chase scene involving “Mikey de Gold” and his club-wielding pursuer.
Until very recently, The Dark Man #5 included the only published drawing of Howard’s not taken from a letter: “Where the East and the West Shall Meet,” a depiction of a turbaned “Oriental” with a Germanic attired westerner at sword point, drawn circa 1921-22. That changed with the publication of the REH Foundation Newsletter #2. The latest newsletter contains a page of Howard’s doodles including a couple of heads, a few guns, several knives of various style (the one shown at the top of this post, for example), not to mention a few other odd scribblings.
While Howard won’t be listed on anyone’s list of great visual artists any time soon, his style is clean, his perspective accurate, and his attention to detail surprisingly good. All of the items mentioned here wouldn’t even fill up a thin chapbook, but who knows what other items remain buried in the Howard archives?