May 10, 2010

From the Frankensteinia Archives:
Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010

A giant has passed away. Frank Frazetta died today, May 10, 2010.
I don't think I can improve on this post I made about two and half years ago. Please accept this as my tribute to the great Frank Frazetta...

A brutal, battling Frankenstein’s Monster straddles a tumbling tombstone on a cemetery knoll, rats and bats in attendance, and torch bearing villagers converging under a bloody orange sky.

When he delivered this dramatic, atmospheric oil painting for the cover of Creepy no. 10 (August, 1966), Frank Frazetta was at his creative peak. Over the next incredibly prolific seven years, Frazetta would produce most of the cover images that would cement his reputation as an artist’s artist. His paperback covers for Lancer Books’ Conan reprints not only fixed the image of the muscle-bound barbarian in the public consciousness, they fueled sales for the series in the millions of copies.

Publisher Jim Warren, an unabashed fan of Frazetta’s work, offered him total creative freedom. “Just do it,” Warren said. “Just bring it in!”. Frazetta would produce stunning covers for Warren’s horror comic magazines Eerie and Creepy, and sensuous masterpieces for Vampirella. Free to experiment, the artist explored unusual compositions and startling color combinations.

The outstanding Frankenstein cover for Creepy number 10 is three-dimensional, its main elements popping off the page, the graveyard in deep focus receding to a far horizon. The dynamic characters, anchored by heavily textured soil, are framed and focused by the dead tree and its clawing branches. If you are familiar with the work of Jeff Jones and Bernie Wrightson, you can actually see elements in this painting that influenced and informed their styles.

Though Frank Frazetta’s distinctive brushstroke signature would become instantly recognizable to fans, it is nowhere to be seen on this cover. The artist playfully engraved his name on the overturned tombstone.

Frank Frazetta Wikipedia page, and an “unofficial” Frazetta gallery site.

There are four Frazetta books edited by Arnie and Cathy Fenner of Spectrum fame: Legacy: Selected Paintings and Drawings by the Grand Master of Fantastic Art, Frank Frazetta; Frank Frazetta: Icon; Testament: The Life and Art of Frank Frazetta, and the newly published Spectrum Presents Frank Frazetta: Rough Work.

On DVD: Fire and Ice, Ralph Bakshi’s sword and sorcery epic designed by Frazetta is available in a two-disc limited edition that includes Painting With Fire, a documentary directed by Lance Laspina. Frazetta - Painting With Fire is also available as a standalone DVD.


Guy Budziak said...

Frazetta's work left a huge impression on me as a boy growing up in the Sixties, the Ace paperbacks he did for their Edgar Rice Burroughs series, the Lancer Conan paperbacks, and of course those delicious covers he did for Warren's Creepy and Eerie magazines. Lush, sensual, dynamic, he handled the rendering of the human figure in a way that was, and is, unparalleled. His use of color and form was intoxicating to my pre-adolescent eyes and mind. Frazetta's work reflected the time in which he first flourished, when stars like Brando and Monroe possessed an outsized vitality and appeal. He himself had the looks of an actor, handsome, athletic (he was in his youth a baseball player of pro caliber). As I got older my fondness for his work seemed more of a guilty pleasure, but to hell with that. There are those who might equate his work with the lowbrow, but for what he did he was the absolute pinnacle, no one then or since can match the unique and vivid vision he created in his paintings and illustrations. I seriously doubt that he will ever be forgotten.

Guillaume said...

That's the monster as he should look like: deformed and utterly repulsive, yet the expression of his face is a sad one, as he seems completely aware of his tragic destiny. Thanks for posting this.