Friday, August 5, 2016

Henry del Campo (1899-1961)

Artist, Illustrator
Born March 10, 1899, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Catalonia, Spain
Died November 20, 1961, Brookview or Albany, New York?

Henry Valentine del Campo was a Spanish artist born on March 10, 1899, in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, a city on the Mediterranean coast near the border with France. His parents were Purdence or Petro del Campo and Sara or Sarah del Campo. Both were native Spaniards, and both came to the United States in 1912. They had two sons, Emil, born on August 12, 1895 or 1896, in Sant Feliu de Guíxols or nearby Girona, Spain, and Henry del Campo, younger by three or four years. The boys came to the United States with their parents and were supposedly naturalized in 1919. If that's the case, they both earned it, for both served with the U.S. Army in Europe during the Great War.

Henry del Campo, though younger, was first to enlist. He was inducted into the New York National Guard on May 8, 1917, a month after the Unites States declared war on Germany. Del Campo first served in the infantry, then was transferred to a machine gun unit. He served overseas from July 9, 1918, to May 8, 1919, when he deserted "while in confinement awaiting trial" in Miramas, France (this according to his military record). I don't know why del Campo was in confinement, and I can't say how he escaped, but for the next twenty years, he hid from view.

Miramas, France, the place of Henry del Campo's confinement, is on the Mediterranean coast, not far from the port of Marseilles and by my guess about 200 miles from his birthplace in Spain. There are implications in all that, but probably no one now can say how the fugitive from American military authority made his way back to the United States. In any event, by January 4, 1920, the day they were counted in the U.S. census, del Campo was with his family in Brooklyn. I think it likely that they were hiding him, and because they were hiding him, they had to hide themselves by claiming a different surname. They were the del Gambos instead of the del Campos: Petro, who worked in a cork factory, Sarah, Emil, a stenographer, and Henry, without an occupation.

Henry del Campo was married by then. He had in fact married before shipping out to France. His bride was Marguerite Helen Casey, an Irish-American girl whom he wed on June 20, 1918, in Brooklyn, the day before her twentieth birthday. I don't know where she was in 1920 when Henry del Campo was counted with his family in New York, but in July 1922, Marguerite del Campo petitioned for naturalization in that same city. She claimed Spanish citizenship and arrived in New York from Havana, Cuba, by way of Key West, Florida. I wonder if the couple had lived in Cuba while things cooled off for Henry del Campo in his home city of New York.

In contrast to his brother, Emil del Campo served honorably in the U.S. military. He was inducted on May 29, 1918, in New York, and on July 31, 1918, he was transferred from an infantry unit to a machine gun unit. He was promoted to corporal the next day. The older del Campo brother served overseas from July 6, 1918, to August 23, 1919. He was honorably discharged on August 28, 1919, but served in the New York militia until August 12, 1959. He died in September 1964 in Spain, possibly in Barcelona (or his death was reported by the consulate in Barcelona). Emil del Campo showed up in the 1930 census with his widowed mother in Brooklyn. He was a widower, too. His brother, however, was still missing, at least from my search. Finally, on March 17, 1939, Henry del Campo reappeared, surrendering himself at Fort Totten, located in Queens, New York. "[R]eturned to military control" he was discharged on April 13, 1939, "under other than honorable conditions, by reason of desertion admitted and physical unfitness." Trial was "deemed inadvisable." (All from his military record.) Five months later, in November 1939, his first drawings in Weird Tales were published.

Henry and Marguerite del Campo were enumerated in the U.S. census on April 16, 1940, in Brooklyn. Next door were Emil del Campo, a foreman for a WPA project, and his mother Sara [sic]. Henry was, at the time, an illustrator working on his own account, while Marguerite was an office worker at a kennel club. According to what they told the enumerator, they had lived in the same place in 1935. All that leads me to believe that del Campo didn't just start working as an artist or illustrator in the five months between his military discharge and his first drawings in Weird Tales. It seems more likely that he had been working in his chosen field for some time and that only in 1939 was he finally free to use his own name again. Maybe there are drawings by del Campo hiding, just as their creator was at the time, in the magazines and newspapers of the 1920s and '30s.

Weird Tales moved to New York City in 1938 and came to an end in 1954. In the intervening years, Henry del Campo contributed twenty illustrations to the magazine, mostly in the years 1939-1942. (There is a gap from 1942 to 1947, roughly the war years. Could del Campo have been involved in the war effort?) Other than a reprint in the Fall 1984 issue, del Campo's illustrations for Weird Tales from November 1939 to January 1954 are his only known credits in the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

I have a newspaper item from the Troy, New York, Times Record for August 8, 1956, page 2:
Henry del Campo and Ruth E. Trainor, both of Brookview Road, Schodack, state in another certificate that they are conducting business there under the name of Art Associates.
So, by 1956, Henry del Campo had relocated to upstate New York from Brooklyn or New York City. He was still, evidently, working as an artist. By this item, he lived in Schodack, south of Albany. He may also have lived in Halfmoon, north of that city. In any case, del Campo's time in the Albany area was cut short with his death at age sixty-two on November 20, 1961. His widow, Marguerite Helen Casey del Campo, passed away in October 1988 in Brooklyn. As mentioned, del Campo's brother, Emil del Campo, died in September 1964 in Spain. Both del Campo brothers appear to have been childless. Henry del Campo's art may be all that anyone has left of the family here in America.

Henry del Campo's Illustrations in Weird Tales
"The Withered Heart" by G.G. Pendarves (Nov. 1939)
"Towers of Death" by Henry Kuttner (Nov. 1939)
"Black Was the Night" by Laurence Bour, Jr. (May 1940)
"Golden Chalice" by Frank Gruber (July 1940)
"The Artificial Honeymoon" by H. Bedford-Jones (July 1940)
"The Fiddler's Fee" by Robert Bloch (July 1940)
"The Gentle Werewolf" by Seabury Quinn (July 1940)
"The Blind Farmer and the Strip Dancer" by H. Bedford-Jones (Sept. 1940)
"The Reward" by Robert Clancy (Sept. 1940)
"The Unusual Romance of Ferdinand Pratt" by Nelson S. Bond (Sept. 1940)
"The Last Waltz" by Seabury Quinn (Nov. 1940)
"The Wife of the Humorous Gangster" by H. Bedford-Jones (Nov. 1940)
"Turn Over" by Dorothy Quick (Nov. 1940)
"Honeymoon in Bedlam" by Nelson S. Bond (Jan. 1941)
"The Downfall of Lancelot Biggs" by Nelson S. Bond (Mar. 1941)
"The Affair of the Shuteye Medium" by H. Bedford-Jones (Mar. 1941)
"Death of the Kraken" by David H. Keller (Mar. 1942)
"The Churchyard Yew" by J. Sheridan le Fanu (July 1947)
"Green Brothers Take Over" by Maria Moravsky (Jan. 1948)
"The Calamander Chest" by Joseph Payne Brennan (Jan. 1954)
Heading for Book Reviews page (Fall 1984; originally in a previous issue of Weird Tales)

Further Reading
None known.

An illustration by Henry del Campo from the story "The Wife of the Humorous Gangster" by H. Bedford-Jones, reprinted in The Adventures of a Professional Corpse by H. Bedford-Jones (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2009).

Revised on August 12, 2016. Thanks to Steven Rowe for providing Henry del Campo's death date.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


  1. The death notice of Henry Del Campo appears in the 21 November 1961 Knickerbocker News (Albany, NY). It reads "Del Campo - Henry of Route 150, Brookview, N.Y. on November 20, husband of Marguerite Casey, brother of Emil Del Campo of Spain". Funeral arrangements given

    1. Dear Steven,

      Thanks for that much needed information. I will update my article.

      For you and other readers: I welcome contributions of information on the writers and artists of Weird Tales. There are still lots of unanswered questions and still plenty of opportunity for researchers to contribute to our accumulated knowledge about those people.