(1909-1956) US illustrator and writer whose work spanned fantasy, sf, horror and mystery. The majority of HW's fiction was for Pulp magazines, and he was overshadowed by his brother Donald Wandrei, whose fiction appeared in some of the same publications. HW is generally better remembered for his artwork: his illustrations are notable for their intricate, layered styling, with an "ouroboros" sense of endlessly interconnecting elements. The combination of his exquisitely detailed line-work with often garish colour schemes resulted in a bizarre, arresting effect.
Under his own name and as Robert Coley, Robert A Garron, Howard W Graham, H W Guernsey and Howard Von Drey (HW wrote much fantasy for Spicy Mystery as Garron) he produced nearly 200 stories. The best of his fantasy exhibits a strong vein of humour and a tendency for romantic subplots. In "The Hexer" (1939 Unknown) a bizarre little man wields the magical power to give a literal interpretation to people's personality traits – a "nosy" reporter suddenly sports a huge nose, etc. In "The Monocle" (1939) a woman inadvertently utters a Spell that revives Ardanth, a red-skinned sorcerer from ancient "Cebes", and then spends much of the ensuing story whimsically seeking romantic involvement with him.
Although several collections of HW's fiction were announced over the years by Arkham House, none appeared. In fact HW was largely, and unjustly, forgotten until the publication of Time Burial (coll 1995), the first of at least three projected collections. [BM]