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Volume 6425

The Edgar Rice Burroughs Artistry of
Howard David Johnson

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Born at Bitburg Air Base Germany in 1954, Howard David Johnson studied Art, History and the Natural Sciences at UT Austin. Exhibitions include the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

His clients include the Universities of Texas at Austin, and Oxford and Cambridge in England, the National Geographic Society, Paramount, Universal, MGM, Warner Bros, ABC/Disney, CBS, PBS, The History Channel, Adobe Photoshop, Verizon wireless, The Australian Mint, Apple IPOD, Penguin, Doubleday Harlequin, Book of the Month Club, and in periodicals like Popular Photography and the Wall Street Journal.

With a background in the Natural Sciences Howard David Johnson uses traditional media including oils, pastels and colored pencils and also embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his realistic depictions of fantasy, folklore, mythology, legend, religion, and heroic history. He works in and mixes a wide variety of media * Oil paintings * Acrylic Paintings * Prismacolor Paintings * Drawings * Chalk & Oil Pastel Paintings * Photography * 2D & 3D Digital Artistry* and Mixed Media including any and all of the above*

Since 1974 when David began his art career doing dinosaur reconstructions and artifact records as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas David has earned his living in a variety of ways including illustrating all kinds of books, magazines, CD covers, and all sorts of games, greeting cards, calendars, portraits, murals and the like with his contemporary realistic art.

David's Realistic Art has appeared in every major bookstore chain and fantasy gaming shop in The United States and has been used in educational texts and magazines all over the world.

~ From The Directory of Illustration
The influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs has always been a part of my life.

My earliest memories are of sitting in my father's lap and watching Tarzan movies on TV Sunday mornings in the late fifties and as a kindergartner playing Tarzan and Jane in the lush vine filled trees of Bermuda with my little girlfriend. My dad built us a tree house... Good times. I loved the books in elementary school but the re-releases of the Barsoom novels with the Frazetta covers in the 1970's inspired me like nothing else and shaped my vision as an artist.


Tarzan the Fearless
If I were going into a gang fight I would want Tantor backing me up... In Burroughs's works several elephants are called Tantor, the word for elephant in Mangini, the language of the great apes, but the Tantor I thought was most notable was one particular bull elephant the jungle lord befriends in his youth in ERB's first Tarzan novel, Tarzan of the Apes.

When I sat down to illustrate Tarzan, I didn't want him to look like a steroid freak that spent all day every day at the gum on a weight machine.
Certain illustrators give ERB's characters that look and it seems terribly out of place to me -- Tarzan was big and strong -- yes -- but more like a Greek statue of Hercules.

My favorite Tarzan movie was always "Tarzan and his Mate" with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'sullivan. Its just adorable.  I have the pre-code uncut version on blu-ray.

First Feelings of Love

Tarzan and His Mate

Tarzan and the Lizard Men

Tackling a Pterodactyl

The Savage Land

The Fight For Survival

Xochi the Beautiful

Savage Pellucidar
The Lost World genre arose during the era when Archaeological expeditions were big news, discovering amazing remnants of lost civilizations around the world like the tombs of Egypt's Valley of the Kings, the stronghold of Troy, jungle-shrouded pyramids of the Maya, or the cities and palaces of the Assyrian Empire. Thus, real stories of archaeological finds by imperial adventurers succeeded in setting imaginations on fire. Between 1871 and the First World War, the number of lost-world adventures set on every continent became mainstream fiction literature.

The lush panoramas of Pellucidar excited my imagination with their pre-historic creatures under the influence of beautiful women surveying a sky full of strange balloons and pterodactyls. Because Pellucidar rests on the inner side of the Earth’s crust, there is no horizon. The land curves “upwards”, as if you were standing on the inside of a gigantic bowl with the luminescent molten core floating above to give perpetual daylight. The covers by Roy G. Krenkel and Frank Frazetta set my imagination onfire.

A beautiful girl riding a flying dinosaur or an adventure hero like David Inness jumping up and snatching one out of the air seemed a must for a portfolio of ERB inspired works... the fantastic things Burroughs characters did in his stories were so exciting to imagine and with his vivid descriptions, easy to visualize. No wonder he was the top selling author of the first half of the 20th century in North America!

I had to illustrate the Iron Mole and David Innes, discoverer of the Inner World of Pellucidar. David Inness meeting the cavewomen queen, Dian the beautiful. The story of David and Dian’s struggles among unknown peoples and incredible beasts is another thrill ride in Edgar Rice Burrough's collection of  novels of high adventure and romance and one of my personal favorites.

It was ERB that got me drawing dinosaurs... When I went to the University of Texas at Austin School of Fine Arts they gave me a squirt gun and told me to squirt the canvas with paint. I wanted to study the masters but they wanted me to imitate monkeys. Threatened with failing the art class for drawing, I brought a fish skeleton and slapped it into the canvas with its thick oil paints. They declared me the next Jackson Pollack with my organic textures and I thought, ..."Oh, Brother..." and went to my Science class where the prof did not mind my doodling. He walked around and said; " The head is too big and the horn is too short". When he came back around I had modified it and he said, "OK! Now the Cycadeoides {fern-like plants} are too close to the water. The next trip around the classroom he said: "Do you want a job? Our so called illustrator cries like a baby and throws a temper tantrum every time I point out his mistakes." He took me under his wing and taught me things no art class ever could and the travel was wonderful.

Return to Pellucidar

Lost City

High Priestess of the Lizardmen

Temple Guard of the Lizard Men

Queen of the Jungle

Run Down by Raptors


A Princess of Mars

Some of Frazetta's little scribble sketches of The John Carter of Mars saga are SO wonderful... His action poses are just excellent -- they are like the fountainhead at the well of his magic. I thought it would be fun to take them and finish them out as realistic illustrations. I asked: "Can the human body REALLY get in that pose?

I honestly think that no Hollywood movie has ever gotten even one of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels right... There have been GOOD movies with GREAT scenes, but now over a hundred years later with us living in the golden age of visual effects it is ENTIRELY possible, but the screenplay writer needs to follow the book for a change.  I loved John Carter by Disney, but the idiots in charge of marketing spent over a hundred million on TV ads during the work day targeting little old ladies waiting for Oprah who would never go see it or  unemployed people who couldn't afford it. Ouch.

When I look at the influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs on literature and popular culture it is so large its impossible to calculate, before John Carter there was no Superman or Flash Gordon, no Luke Skywalker and there would not be without ERB's pioneering work. He is incredibly underrated and his works are STILL an untapped gold mine of project ideas.

Dejah Thoris ~ Queen of Helium

A Fighting Man of Mars

Tars Tarkas of Mars
Mastermind of Mars


The Moon Maid

Pirates of Venus

Carson of Venus

Carson of Venus

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