I was born in 1954 and grew up in LA's San Fernando Valley,
not far from the E.R.B. Business offices. I started drawing when I was
about 10, and began painting very soon after that. It was around this same
time that I discovered the Ace paperback editions of Tarzan, Pellucidar,
John Carter, and all the other Burroughs novels that Ace had published,
as well as those amazing covers by Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta.
Those covers served as Style Guides and visual reference
for the movies my mind created as I read the pages that followed.
It was during a visit to the E.R.B. offices in 1975 that
I first met Danton Burroughs. I showed him some of my Burroughs based artwork
I'd brought with me, and he gave me a tour of the place. Once, during another
visit, Danton ducked out of his office briefly and returned with a stack
of original Frazetta paintings from the Ace Editions. Poring over those
was a genuine thrill!
Over the next two years we would occasionally get together
(usually to go to parties). I would always come up with a house address
and Danton would always drive us. Back then he owned this humungous maroon
colored convertible Panzer Tank from Detroit that he'd named "The Barsoom."
Tars Tarkas would've loved it. It was ugly and it was beautiful. In 1977
I moved to San Francisco and didn't run into Danton for another 12 years.
I moved back to L.A. for a short time, then back to S.F
in 1987 when I went to work for Bill Graham at his Rock and Roll merchandising
company, Winterland Productions. The salary was nothing spectacular, but
some of the fringe benefits (an evening at Frank Zappa's home, a backstage
photo-op with Peter Gabriel) were priceless. I was there for 14 years,
10 in house as a contract artist. Through the years I've produced concept
art and storyboards for CGI Animation projects, texture mapping and matte
painting on game projects, promotional art for MCA Universal Studios, and
countless other projects I can't even being to recall.
Back when I was 10 and started painting and drawing, I
knew I wanted to become an illustrator, but I couldn't imagine the amazing
places that path would take me to.
Danton then suggested that I go visit his father John
Coleman Burroughs who lived nearby. After calling his dad he told me to
go on over and the front door would be open. The door was open when I arrived
and I took a step in and said "hello" a couple of times. Getting no reply,
I went down the hall into the living room where JCB sat, surrounded by
Burroughs based paintings done by him and many others. He was shaking from
Parkinson's Disease and could no long speak.
I sat and introduced myself and showed him a couple of
my Burroughs pieces. He smiled and then waved his arm around the room,
bidding me to give myself a tour. I confined myself to the living room
and hallway, where there was still plenty to look at. Before leaving I
thanked him for his hospitality and noticed he had been crying slightly
(I think he was when I first arrived). By the time I left, I think I was
Moving back to LA in 1981, I soon found work doing pre-production
art and storyboarding for an independent action film project. the project
never took off, but it DID lead to a meeting with someone with a very interesting
past that I've only recently become fully aware of. His name was Barry
Mahon, and at that time all I knew about him was that he'd been Errol Flynn's
agent late in Flynn's career.
Barry had produced some cold war quickies such as "Rocket
Attack, USA" and "Cuban Rebel Girls" (with Flynn). I worked for Barry off
and on for the next two years doing pre-production art and storyboarding
for low-budget Bible films made for European Distribution. After a time
I moved on and Mr. Mahan faded into memory. A couple of years ago his name
came up in conversation and I mentioned that I had once worked for him,
which was met with an astonished, "You did"?
That made me curious so I looked Barry up on the Internet
Movie Data Base, where I discovered that not only had Barry been Flynn's
agent but his personal pilot as well. He had been a pilot in WWII and had
been shot down over Germany where he was sent to Stalag 18. Barry became
a tunnel rat (digger) for what would become known as "The Great Escape,"
and apparently Steve McQueen's character in the film version was based
on Barry Mahon! . . . ya never can tell about folks. . . .