Amazing Stories, Blue Book, Argosy, and Weird Tales were the top pulp magazine titles of the 1920s and 1930s, and J. Allen St. John's imaginative, visual flights-of-fantasy illustrations are the era's most memorable. St. John quickly became the favorite artist of the great adventure author and creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan and the Golden Lion, Tarzan the Terrible, The Beasts of Tarzan, as well as Burroughs' sci-fi creations, At The Earth's Core, Pirates of Venus, and the many adventures of John Carter on Mars, are but a few of the classics illustrated by St. John. Grand Master of Adventure: The Drawings of J. Allen St. John collects, for the first time, the exquisite pen, ink and pencil illustrations of the grand Tarzan artist.
St. John began his career by studying the old master in the museums of Paris around 1880. Returning to America, his notoriety among Fine Art enthusiasts developed with recognition from the Society of American Artists and Metropolitan magazine in 1889. The artist went on to become a professor of drawing and painting at both The American Academy of Art and the Chicago Art Institute, but his greatest notoriety came as he ventured into the colorful world of pulp magazine and adventure book illustration. For the readers of fantasy, science fiction and adventure, St. John surpassed the work of his famous contemporaries Frank Schoonover, James Montgomery Flagg, and N. C. Wyeth, and led the way for future masters, including Roy G. Krenkel, the Brothers Hildebrandt, and Frank Frazetta.
TARZAN CREATOR's GRANDSON ON VANGUARD's ST. JOHN BOOK
My grandfather, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and my father, John Coleman Burroughs, both held the art of J. Allen St. John in high esteem. As a result, the walls of our home resembled a St. John art gallery. I grew up surrounded by scenes of noble warriors, golden lions, Martian princesses, and ferocious beasts set in milieus of savage jungles, exotic architectures and alien landscapes -- all from the brush and pen of J. Allen St. John.
It was a long time before I came to realize that having a St. John original hanging in your home wasn't commonplace. To me none of this seemed weird or threatening, and it enabled me to grow up with an even greater appreciation of my grandfather's writing and my father's artwork.
I am proud of the fact that it was my grandfather's great imagination that produced the stories that inspired St. John to create these unforgettable images that have excited people for decades. St. John moved easily between his work for the popular magazines of the day and his illustrations for my grandfather's books -- and he instilled all of his work with highly imaginative artistry. My father's first childhood sketches were St. John copies and he carried this inspiration throughout his long and successful career as an artist in his own right.
It was with great anticipation, then, that I opened Grand Master of Adventure: The Drawings of J. Allen St. John -- and I wasn't disappointed. To see so many of St. John's drawings collated into one volume, and reproduced so magnificently, is a real treat. It's been a long time since I've been so impressed with an art book and I look forward to seeing a future companion volume showcasing the color paintings of the Grand Master of Adventure art.
Danton Burroughs ~ Tarzana, California