I learned this morning that James Cawthorn passed away on Tuesday of this week. He was 78. Cawthorn is an important figure in the history of sword & sorcery, but many of you may never have heard of him. Cawthorn was a close friend of Michael Moorcock and Mike says that Cawthorn was very influential in the development of his signature character, Elric of Melnibone. Cawthorn did the earliest drawings of Elric and Mike still considers those to be the closest anyone has come to portraying the albino the way that Mike envisioned him. The two met when Moorcock was still a teenager and editing the Tarzan Adventures Magazine in London. Cawthorn provided covers and illustrations for Tarzan Adventures and illustrated the adventures of Mike's first S&S hero, Sojan the Swordsman. Cawthorn went on to do some of the first comic book adaptations of Moorcock's better known heroes, not only Elric, but also Dorian Hawkmoon.
In addition to being a talented artist, Cawthorn was a writer as well. He worked with Moorcock on the script for the 1974 movie adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel The Land That Time Forgot and more importantly, for fans of sword & sorcery, Cawthorn collaborated with Mike on the plot outline for the Elric/Conan team-up in Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian issues 14 and 15. Writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Smith turned this outline into two of the best remembered issues of the Marvel Conan. He also contributed to the plot for at least one of Moorcock's Elric novellas.
Cawthorn passed away only a few days short of his 79th Birthday on December 21. He left behind an impressive body of work.
For an interview with Cawthorn and examples of his art, check out this link to Savoy books: