Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Powerful, bold, dramatic and epic all describe the work of an artist who became one of the first comic book superstars...backwards. Before organized comic book fandom or widely circulated publications about the artform, Frank Frazetta's fame had spread across America by word of mouth.
He was "that unbelievable cover artist" for Robert Howard's Conan and Burroughs' Tarzan novels.
It was first rumored and then confirmed that he'd also done work for Mad magazine and even for the legendary EC comics during the 1950s. As the first attempts at comic book history were published, the greatest thrill of all for comic book fans was discovered. Frank Frazetta had drawn comic books.
It was a thrill because comic book art was held in disdain by the same people who loved Frazetta's work. So, there!
Rooted in Naturalism (the artsy term for realistic representation), Frazetta's cover paintings of barbarians and voluptuous women are powerful in composition, bold in color, dramatic in subject and epic in scale. His exaggerated anatomy, perfect for the fantasy worlds illustrated, changed the direction of heroic art in comic books and heavily influenced SF, fantasy and adventure covers for paperback novels and magazines.
His small but important body of comic book work is no less powerful, and has been collected and reprinted in many editions.
Frazetta's comics work includes "Snowman" (Baily); Thunda, Straight Arrow, Tim Holt, "Ghost Rider" (all ME); "Golden Arrow" (Fawcett); "Shining Knight", Tamahawk (both for DC); Buster Crabbe (Eastern Color), crime, horror, fantasy, science fiction and Mad magazine (EC); Creepy (Warren) and Forbidden Worlds (ACG).
His comic strip work includes Johnny Comet and Li'l Abner (as Capp's assistant). Poster art for movies broadened his career.
Frank Frazetta's work is highly recommended.
Some older titles are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comics shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade journals are best sources. Prices vary; shop around.