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Robert E. Howard's - Desert Adventures

Tim Bradstreet

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Sometimes dreams come true. I've been lucky. Dreams come true for me periodically.

From getting my first job in the industry, to working with my idols, working in film, or doing a fucking Iron Maiden cover . . .

It satisfies me that I chose well when it came to my career ;)


The latest dream to come true?

I have LONG been a fan of Robert E. Howard whom I first discovered through my love of Frank Frazetta's artwork back in the late 70's when I was just a wee lad.

Frazetta introduced me to Conan, and to a certain extent, Bran Mak Morn (Though I wasn't able to read those stories until much later). I read the Marvel Comics Conan voraciously as a kid and then discovered the books. WOW. The books are amazing, the very best of Pulp Adventure. Since those early days I've been able to seek out the other wonderful characters created by the mind of Robert E. Howard - Solomon Kane, Kull, Kirby O'Donnell, and my favorite of them all, Francis Xavier Gordon, also known as, El Borak.


But let me back-peddle, back in the late 90's I was over the moon when I found out that one of my favorite artists, Gary Gianni was in the process of illustrating Howard's Solomon Kane. I saw some of the illustrations and was absolutely blown away. And the package that publisher Wandering Star released was nothing short of perfection. Hardcover, slip case, richly illustrated by Gianni with color plates and his glorious old world stylistic black and white renderings.

I have to tell you I was both incredibly impressed and also a bit jealous. Gianni was invited to do something I always wanted to do, illustrate a great book of stories. And he got to do Solomon Kane! You could see Gianni's love and admiration for the material in every stroke, and I believe that the Howard material inspired Frazetta to raise his game as well. OK, jealousy is a strong word, but let's at least say that I would have loved to have been in Gianni's shoes for a while.


Next came the Conan collection by Wandering Star. This time the publisher used illustrations and thumbnails by Frazetta to illustrate the book. Again, hardcover, slipcase, gorgeous package. Then Gianni came back with Bran Mak Morn, Wandering Star's 3rd installment of illustrated books by Howard. Simply delightful, and I devoured the stories and art. Next thing I know, another good friend Mark Schultz is tapped to do a new collection of Conan stories. THAT was amazing. Then we got the illustrated Kull: The Conquerer, illustrated by the amazing Justin Sweet.

I was now a fully fledged, eye-goggling fan of the Wandering Star projects.


So imagine my fucking shock, surprise, and infinite delight, when Paradox Entertainment (the Howard rights holders), contacted me to illustrate the next book in the Howard series. And not just any book in the series, they've tapped me to illustrate The Desert Adventures of El Borak!! Now we're full circle.

Good fortune has not made me rich but it HAS been my longtime companion.


So now the journey has begun. As I sit here writing this all out I'm sifting though those wonderful stories I've known so well, preparing my roughs and listening to Miklos Rozsa's score to El Cid, the perfect soundtrack to Desert Adventure.


Friends, I'm about ready to kick some serious ass.

More soon.


- TB


PS - Some of what is in store - This is an unpublished illustration of Lawrence Of Arabia.




There won't be any Peter O'Toole, Anthony Quinn, or Omar Sharif, but this is the flavor.

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Yeah man, I'm chomping at the bit.

I've been hoping for an excuse to return to my strictly black and white illustration roots.

I've been forced to compromise my natural style with my cover work so I can make room for the color.

This will be an opportunity to see where I've evolved since the last time I did a large body of black and white work.

I'm thrilled to see where it goes.


- TB

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Here is a painting of El Borak, done by Jim and Ruth Keegan who will be providing the color plates for our project.




For more information on El Borak, check this out - Robert E. Howard's - El Borak - Wikipedia


- TB

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Wow, congratulations Tim. I am also a Howard fan and I discovered him exactly the same way you did, through the Frazetta art work...it's just incredible.


This is damned cool. I can't wait to see your work on this project. That Lawrence of Arabia pic is just freaking awesome and it may darn well be my new favorite piece of your work, I just love it. It is pretty easy to see your love for the subject it just jumps of the picture man. Fantastic, and thanks for sharing it.



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Guest AdminGuyX

Wow. Here I was expecting to log on to the boards and read about a movie or two when Tim decides to post some NEWS. Really amazing news!!! I'm so damn happy for you.


Hell, I'm a fan of all of this. I can't fucking wait.


Shock Festival, Archetype, Age of Desire, Bad Planet . . . now this.


We're getting more Bradstreet than we can handle. It's overdue.


I must admit I am not familiar with any of these illustrated books, but I love all the artists mentioned, so, time to hit amazon, or ebay and track them down . . .



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Here's some of Gianni's stuff from Solomon Kane. Shame there aren't any decent sized scans out there, but this will give you the gist.




The illo with the horse above is from Bran Mak Morn.


This is one of the color plates from The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane. Gary really out did himself with the paintings.





- TB




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What truly incredible news! I have the Conan book (Conan: The Ultimate Triumph) you speak of in hardcover. I also have one of the signed slip case editions of Solomon Kane. Bran Mak Morn has been on my wish list for some time. Looking at the Lawrence Of Arabia pic above I am seriously freaking out to see what you will do with El Borak. I read those stories years ago and remember them fondly. Really Tim, this is something special, just to be the company of the other artists who've worked on this series must be quite an honor.

When is the book supposed to be released?

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Before you order, make sure Wandering Star is still in business. They aren't publishing the books anymore.

Paradox, the REH rights holders, have taken over publishing in partnership with Del Rey.

Wandering Star may still have stock of the books to sell, but who knows? I'd just be sure first ;)


- TB

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That's great news, congrats Tim!


Also, being a huge REH fan, I cannot wait to see the finished result. I like REH almost as much as I do Barker and Clarke.


Incidentally, Malmberg and Sederowsky of Paradox are in the process of bringing several charathers to the big screen, I think the first one out will be "Solomon Kane", starring Jane's doppelganger from Rome...

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Hey Tim and the rest of the RAW forum fan-atics - I finally made a log in - woot


Just wanted to say congrats again Tim on the gig...cant wait to see the images...I will be taking notes on your Movie list this week and filling up my netflix with old school goodness :blink:





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Hey, WELCOME Billy!.

Nice to see you made it.

Start enjoying those films.


I'm out of town doing some work up north a tad, doing shoots for El Borak.

Having a great time and cannot wait to announce who my model for the character is.


Hitting the forum boards of late is a rarity, just no time.


The photo sessions have been amazing and I can't wait to start illustrating.


Paradox officially announced my participation with this project over on the REH boards.

So far the response from the hardcore fans has been pretty favorable.

I'm aiming to insure they are not disappointed ;)


Keegans And Bradstreet To Tackle El Borak/O'Donnell


More soon - TB

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Guest AdminGuyX
I'm aiming to insure they are not disappointed


That's because you're one of them.




I would be uttery surprised if you let anybody down with this work Tim.


I know you're probably working on it right now instead of reading this . . .

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  • 2 months later...

I just bought the Kindle version of El Borak from Amazon. Not ONE bloody piece of art is included! Well, what can I expect for $.80?


I'm so incredibly spoiled by the MAX Punisher compilations. I want quality, satiney paper that my fingers glide over sensously, not too many panels per page so I can thoroughly enjoy the artistic detail of each one, and the glorious colors! Oof!



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  • 3 months later...

Well here's the first illustration that Paradox/Del Rey has released. Hard to believe this book doesn't come out for a whole year.

Especially hard to swallow because I know I only have 6 weeks to get finished with 11 full page illustrations and 11 header illustrations.

22 more very time consuming pieces to get done. I've been working on the layouts since I finished the 29 vignettes a few weeks back.


Anyway, here is a small glimpse of what's been keeping me busy lately -


My editor just posted this over at the Robert E. Howard boards but he mistakenly described this piece as featuring Kirby O'Donnell, one of the book's main protagonists. However, this is just a supporting character . . . A supporting character brandishing a 3 foot Khyber Knife.





How about a real look at Kirby O'Donnell, also known as Ali el Ghazi -




I get to show this one off since it will not be in the book.

What!? Yep, it's true. I illustrated this thinking it would go in a story called The Trail Of The Blood-Stained God but neglected to consult back to the text.

O'Donnell isn't carrying a pistol in the story. I assumed I'd be given a little license to deviate but apparently these guys (the art directors) are sticklers for complete accuracy. Oh well, at least I have a bitchin' original to put on the wall ;)


hope you enjoy the taste.


- TB

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Tim, those 2 pieces are so freaking sweet...I can feel a diabetic coma coming on...SWEEEEEEEET!

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Ah, you are too kind!

I am rather sullen that the big O'Donnell full page illustration won't see print in the book.

Still, perhaps I'll do a portfolio of the images when the book is released.

I actually have ANOTHER full page O'Donnell piece that won't go in the book either.




- TB

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Guest AdminGuyX

Damn. Gritty stuff. I fuckin' love it Tim. This subject matter suits you so well.


I can't believe they wouldn't find a way to use that second image some where, some how.



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  • 4 months later...

I could probably get in a lot of trouble for this but I can't stop myself.

I just had to show a preview of the Desert Adventures artwork.


This is one of the 11 'header' illustrations in the illustrated book coming from Paradox/Del Rey next year.

I have pretty near always been in love with the worlds of Robert E. Howard, the desert adventures are some of my absolute favorite stories.

It's the romance I have with the desert and those breath-taking locations such as Wadi Rum, the rugged terrain of Afghanistan and Persia.

The period (early 19th Century), the old weapons, swords, British Lee-Enfield and German Mauser bolt action rifles, Webley top-break revolvers, civilian khakis, cool boots . . . Wrap it all up in pulp tales of high adventure and I'm hopelessly lost.


Anyway, here's a peek. This is the header illustration from Sons Of The Hawk.




More to come as I get permission to release.

And at some point next year I plan to do a portfolio of some of the best of the bunch.


- TB

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I'm loving the pics you've shown so far, but at the same time, it's a little depressing. It's almost as if we are getting glimps of a kick ass film that will never be. The backgroud detail, as well as the smaller stuff in the costumes and choice of weapons are just mind boggeling. Still, B&W printed work is alway cool too. I don't suppose you have any idea of the size of the book? I'm hoping it will be an oversized edition like Bad Planet and Archtype.

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