Artists and art lovers are saddened to report the passing of artist Harry Roland on Sunday, June 21, 2009 from a heart attack. While some younger readers might not be familiar with his work, during the 1970s Roland contributed some very familiar, iconic cover paintings for Warren Publications’ Famous Monsters of Filmland.
In addition to his Famous Monsters covers, he provided cover paintings and line illustrations for Amazing Stories, Fantastic Stories and similar publications. He followed that portion of his career with corporate and agency art assignments.
In 2001, Roland joined Insight Studios Group, where he was among the artists who contributed to 9-11 Emergency Relief book. His original art for the story “Letters From a Broken Apple” is on permanent display at the Library of Congress. Also with Insight, he produced his own online comic strip, Trying Times, and a selection of Edgar Rice Burroughs-inspired illustrations for Heavy Metal.
“I was first impressed by Harry's illustrations for the Ted White version of Amazing Stories,” said Insight Studios founder Mark Wheatley. “He was illustrating a Conan story and managed to do interesting work in the shadow of Frazetta while keeping his own artistic identity intact. When I moved to Baltimore and started working with Rick Shanklin he mentioned he knew Harry, but for some reason it took nearly 20 more years before we met and became friends.”
Another friend described him, aside from being a fine artist, as “…one of the good guys. Friendly, modest, quick to smile and laugh, and a heckuva funny storyteller.”
Many of Roland’s private commissions and personal pieces were Burroughs-themed works featuring Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and other characters.
“We were fellow fans of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and we have been sharing the duties of doing covers for our Panthans Journal for several years. Harry was not only a talented illustrator, but an accomplished sculptor, inventor and musician,” Wheatley said. “I'll miss his gravely voice and his calm, steady response to just about anything.”
Harry Roland is survived by his longtime companion Didi Irving.