The Eternal Lover - Roy G. Krenkel - ACE Books 1963
My Favorite Artist: the Great Roy G. Krenkel
Roy Gerald Krenkel (AKA RGK) was born July 11, 1918 in the Bronx, NY. His father was Frederick Krenkel,
a second generation German immigrant, who worked as a cutter at a clothing factory. His mother was Louise
Kuppenhoffer. She was also a child of German immigrants. At the time of his birth his father was 41 and his
mother was 34. He was an only child. They lived at 4692 Park Avenue, Bronx, NY.
In 1938 he studied at the Art Students League with George Bridgman. He served as a Private in the U.S.
Army in the Philippines during WW2. His enlistment papers of January 23, 1942 record him as living in Queens,
and having graduated high school, single, without dependents, and employed as an actor.
After the war, Krenkel returned to NYC, where he attended classes with Burne Hogarth at the Cartoonists
and Illustrators School, which later became the School of Visual Arts. In the 1950s he worked in the comic book
industry for publishers, such as ACG, Atlas, Eastern, EC, and Harvey. He also worked for pulp magazines like,
Fantastic Science Fiction, Marvel Science Fiction, Space Stories, and Science Fiction Adventures.
In 1962 Donald Wolheim, the editor of ACE Books in the late '50s through the sixties, hired Krenkel to be the
lead artist for the 1962-5 revival of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ works. Wolheim had seen Krenkel's work in fanzines
such as Amra, a fan produced magazine devoted to the works of Burroughs and Conan creator Robert E. Howard.
Wolheim chose him, because to the ACE editor Krenkel's style resembled that of J. Allen St. John, the illustrator
of many Burroughs first editions and magazine covers. Roy's first Edgar Rice Burroughs covers for ACE were for
At The Earth's Core (F-156 SF 1962) and The Moon Maid (F-157 SF 1962). Both were instant successes with the
buying public, establishing a visual style for future ACE editions and for ERB paperback and hardback reprints
that publishers can't completely escape to this day. For an example, take a look at the Fall River Press editions
of Burroughs in book stores at this moment, and you will see Roy's influence guiding the art direction of those
editions. The ACE editor always tried to pressure Krenkel to imitate St. John. However, Krenkel's style simply
couldn't be sublimated. RGK's clear and fluid line drawings and paintings are distinctively original and have
become iconic in the world of Burroughs illustration, particularly to baby-boomers, like myself, discovering his
work for the first time in the early sixties.
Even though Roy was a brilliant draftsman, very often he did not do well meeting deadlines. He also
professed to having problems handling color in his work. Sometime in 1962 or '63, he asked his friend Frank
Frazetta, out of work at the time, to help him when deadlines pressed or when he felt he needed support with
color. Occasionally, the two artists would work together on ACE Books commissions. The cover of Tarzan
Triumphant is an example of this collaboration. When Roy found himself unable to meet the demands of the
ACE editor, the ever-generous Krenkel asked Wolheim to hire his friend Frank to do the cover illustration.
Against his own preferences, the desperate editor asked Frank to do the cover art for Tarzan and the Lost
Empire. And, as they say, the rest is history, because Frazetta went on to become the most popular fantasy
artist of the 20th or any other century. According to Frazetta, "Roy Krenkel has never ceased to be a constant
source of inspiration to me. . ." To the last, Frazetta, the acknowledged master of fantasy illustration, told
everyone of his appreciation for the leg-up his friend had provided at a critical juncture in his brilliant career.
Roy spent his last decades illustrating the works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs for a
variety of publishers of hardcover, paperbacks, and fanzines.
Roy Krenkel died of cancer at age 64 on February 24, 1983.
Few art critics will ever call Krenkel a great illustrator, but to the fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert
E. Howard, creator of Conan, he ranks among the highest. He was generous with his work, often giving away
drawings and paintings, knowing he would receive nothing but the accolade of fans. He will always be my
own personal favorite in the pantheon of great Burroughs artists.
The Eternal Lover - Roy G. Krenkel variant for G&D Editions $11.99
Variant created for The Eternal Lover. Roy G. Krenkel did
this cover illustration for the October 1963 ACE Books
release of this novel. However, Donald Wollheim, the
editor of ACE, did not like ERB’s original title and
changed it to The Eternal Savage. For this variant, I have
restored it to the correct title, but still using Krenkel’s
painting as the variant’s cover. To create the wrap-around
illustration above I eliminated the figures from a copy of
the original cover painting; then I attached the new copy
to the original, stretching it a bit to fit. The two pictures
together are what you see above. I’ve always thought this
to be one of Krenkel’s better efforts, and I hope you’ll also
like it and can use it in your collection.
ACE Books Edition,