Tuesday, March 2, 2010

El Borak: The Director's Cut

The gunman on our blog header is Francis Xavier Gordon (better known as El Borak, The Swift). He's Robert E. Howard's fictional amalgam of such real life adventurers as Lawrence of Arabia, Richard Francis Burton, and "Chinese" Gordon, mixed with touches of Rudyard Kipling, Talbot Mundy, and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

The latest volume in Del Rey's ongoing REH Library is the just released, EL BORAK AND OTHER DESERT ADVENTURES — a fantastic book that collects the stories of Howard's Texans-gone-East — El Borak, Kirby O'Donnell and Steve Clarney. The book features over 50 illustrations by artist Tim Bradstreet, who delivered the goods in his signature high-octane, black & white style (To learn more about Tim's illos, go to this LINK). We contributed 5 paintings, but somehow only 4 of them appear in the published book.

Although the plate listing in the front of the book is correct, apparently Murphy's Law kicked in on page 399, which instead sports an illustration that Tim Bradstreet intended to replace the illo now seen on page 413.

Our plate that was intended for page 399 — "... Afzal Khan came and stood over them, combing his crimson beard..." is seen below:


  1. Uh, WOW! That is absolutely gorgeous. Such a pleasure to see in color.
    That goes doubly for your El Borak masthead, which reveals a wonderful dynamic with such subtle shades of the desert hues. Grayscaling this work seems almost a crime. In grayscale it's nice to be sure but robbing these pieces of their color seems a true injustice. Really wish Del Rey would go the extra mile and offer hardcover versions of all the Howard library with COLOR plates. If there somewhere exists a petition of Howard fans carving such delicious volumes then just tell me where I can sign!

    It's also unfortunate that the Keegan work in El Borak was "washed out" to the degree it was. As we all are fully aware, publishing/reproduction of artwork can be dicey at best even in the most ideal of circumstances. Del Rey has always done such a wonderful job with all of that. Hopefully this can be corrected with future editions.

    Yes, and I'm so sorry the confusion of my 'replaced' full page plate resulted in the loss of this glorious painting of Afzal Khan! It is truly delicious, and the inclusion of my rejected image stings all the worse because it was not a 'complete' version. I'll post that complete version on my blog and link to you all here.

    Viva Jim and Ruth!
    The Two-Gun Blog is here!
    Congratulations on creating your new home!
    Congratulations on your spectacular El Borak work!

    No more exclamation points, I promise ;)
    xo - TB

  2. Very nice. I really like how the fire we don't see reflects up on the characters.

  3. Wish I could see this but sadly I only recently found this blog, oh well