Meet Errol McCarthy

Errol McCarthy

Errol McCarthy in his studio

He is perhaps the most prolific Masters of the Universe artist of all time. His artwork is featured on more licensed products than any other artist. He created much of the vintage cardback artwork that we all know and love. For 30 years, his name remained unknown to all He-Man fans around the world. Meet Errol McCarthy, one of the visionaries that shaped the world of Eternia!

Not only did Errol illustrate the mood-setting and often action packed illustrations found on the cardbacks, but he also illustrated the original licensing art style guides. In short, Errol created hundreds upon hundreds of pieces, and his artwork was licensed onto hundreds upon hundreds more. If you own any original piece of MOTU vintage merchandising, there are good chances one of Errol’s illustrations is featured on the product or the packaging.

As a teenager Errol developed an interest in anything with an engine. His high school buddies had real hot rods and many, many evenings were spent cruising, and occasionally actually picking up girls. He soon realized that his plans that involved placing V8 engines into certain vehicles were (most of the time) limited to just being plans, whereas his ability to illustrate with great proficiency meant that he could create anything that his mind could visualize![singlepic id=1 w=320 h=240 float=right]

A short stint in the Air Force as an Aviation Cadet convinced Errol that he was not the military type, and so in the late sixties he attended the Art Center College of Design in California, where he met future Mattel employee Mark Taylor. Their friendship was born out of their love for comic books, something that was frowned upon at art school. The two men had initially met when Errol approached Mark upon seeing him reading a comic book. When Errol made a comment, Mark instantly assumed this was a sarcastic attack and took offense. However, it soon became apparent that the two men had a great deal in common (both men met their wives at the college, too).

Errol’s artistic journey led he and his wife, Mitzi, to become freelance artists that have worked on such historic toylines as Big Jim, Hot Wheels, Barbie, Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and many more! Although he was officially used as a Boys Toys artist by Mattel, he would often go to any meetings that he thought might be interesting, such was his passion for illustration and design.

In 1981 Errol was brought onto the Masters of the Universe brand as a freelance artist by his friend Mark Taylor. His ability to produce a great deal of work in a short space of time resulted in him working at Mattel for many years. One of Errol’s most iconic illustrations was that of Castle Grayskull. The image was reused time and time again, and can be seen incorporated on numerous other MOTU illustrations, where Errol simply photocopied and pasted the castle in the backgrounds. In order to maintain the house style that Mattel were often aiming for Errol would utilize Fred Carrillo’s drawings of He-Man’s head on his own submissions. This way he knew that he would not be asked to redraw the face of the most powerful man in the universe!

During his time at Mattel he was also contracted by the Bates company to illustrate a plethora of artwork for a variety of products. However, for some reason, a great deal of these products were never produced, leaving us with a great deal of unseen artwork!

Errol was asked to join Mattel by Mark Taylor in 1989 where he immediately contributed to The New Adventures of He-Man toyline. Working side by side with Mark, his concept artwork revealed that Taylor was thinking of going into a darker, more hand-to-hand battle concept for the line. He left Mattel in 1995.

The Power and The Honor Foundation is proud to house high quality scans featuring all of Errol’s artwork. Within Errol’s portfolio are the original cardback illustrations for the Powers of Grayskull line. Not only are He-Ro and Eldor included, but also a plethora of unnamed figures  which took the parts reuse concept to an entirely different level!. At some point the Foundation will share all of these wonderful pieces with you!

Errol is still an incredibly active artist. As a matter of fact, when sending us sample scans of his art, he even digitally corrected the artwork from the original Evil-Lyn cardback because he thought that He-Man’s neck was too stumpy!

The Power and The Honor Foundation is grateful to Errol and Mitzi for allowing us to visit them in their home, and spend the day reminiscing about He-Man, their time at Mattel, and most importantly of all, the friendships they built.

The Foundation is also proud to present a small gallery of samples of his Masters of the Universe work:

 

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