Yep. I am one of the few tech-savvy digital "artists" right now who doesn't know who the f**k is Frazetta. Should I be annoyed, or happy that I am actually TOO YOUNG to know this artistic master? Nah. I'm just ignorant.

Thanks to my ignorance, I didn't know squat about this guy! All I heard is that Frazetta is quite known for his his amazing work in comics, calendars, CD covers and novel covers. What you see above is just a teeny, tiny sample of his immense body of work. A career that goes on for decades. Honestly, why haven't I heard of this guy??

Believe it or not, this was revised version of the original cover for "Conan the Avenger" (Image somewhere in the bottom). Notice that a lot of digital artists have imitated his style.

His claim to fame is this "Conan" painting he did back then. He also did a jaw-droppig set of novel covers for some well known fantasy authors back in the day. So amazing was his work that publishers were scrambling to attach a Frazetta painting to their novels.

"This accounts for the fact that there are a number of really bad books with wonderful Frazetta covers, a fact that he quickly put a stop to once he had the clout to be more selective about his work." (Carl V., 2006)

He also dabbled into Hollywood, although I don't think I'll dabble into that. He worked with Ralph Bashki in the 80's for crying out!

Food for thought:
In the old days, he took a stand for creator rights, because back then, the original paintings used for novel covers, and even comic panels were destroyed by the company that commissioned them! Frank, who grew more influential around the industry, wouldn't stand for this, and decided not to work until creators were given rights to keep their works. Thanks to this prima donna attitude, a classic Frazetta painting now fetches a pretty penny. Good for you, Frank.

Extremely talented artists like Philip Straub and thousands others cite this dude as their influence.

"To some aficionados, Frazetta is the Michelangelo of modern Fantasy Art. Frank’s romanticized versions of the human form, culled from men’s magazines and old children’s books, were lushly erotic and scantily clad. When his style coalesced a few decades ago, its highly-exploitive element was regarded as a necessary evil of the marketplace. But in these days of bulimic babes, are Frazetta’s big-bosomed broads still welcome?"

According to an old interview on HappyHomeLandStore, he described himself as a "Fine artist". Just who are this man's interest though..?

Frazetta: "Everyone. All the masters that ever lived, many illustrators, and certainly guys who did Comics. Foster would be my main influence. From the sublime to the ridiculous I go from Foster to Sega, who did design. Even though Foster did Popeye, I thought he was a brilliant artist. His ability to simplify and tell a story, that’s a great artist.

My thoughts:
Then you go to the masters who rendered and painted beautifully but told no story at all. It was contrived, it was obvious that they just posed models and weren’t very excited about it, in spite of the skillful approach. Sure it’s great but so what? It leaves me if I have to sit there and wonder about the application of paint.

Goya's "The Third of May" 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid, 1814.
*Extremely influential piece of art - yeah, I watched a feature about Goya on BBC

Frank: It means nothing. I’d rather look at Harvey Kurtzman. On the other hand, certain classical artists like Goya had magic and power. That’s my own personal judgment. Unfortunately, there’s a million people in this world that have been brainwashed and have to be told what’s good and what isn’t."

My thoughts:
You see that?? His influence are fine artists too! You know what these blokes do? They convey "messages" and other intellectual junk around their painting so it would have significance! Isn't that beautiful? Frank seems to think so too with his work - despite it being in the dragons and chicks in metal bikini variety.

"Barbarism is the natural state of mankind... Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph."

Frazetta: "The subject I do is so hokey and yet entertaining but some of my fanatical fans like Dave Winiewicz (A lifelong friend of Frank -ed) have looked beyond that. I was doing a lot of things. I tried to appeal to the masses and at the same time inject little subtleties that would appeal to the intellectuals around. They did see past the obvious. If you look at the background, that’s what makes my work go on and on."

My thoughts:
Man, this guy is amazing. Right? RIGHT? Everything he does, all comes from his mind. The human poses, the composition, all that! Of course, it came about through years of intensive practice - something I don't do that often, no thanks to my stinkin' day job (That doesn't mean I want to resign).

Catgirl. Two blogs posted this same image on Google Image Search. I think I am the 1,000th to do so.

Now Frank discusses what his favorite, and most influential work was...
Frazetta: "Catgirl is certainly high on this list. Death Dealer, some of those. I’ve never seen a whole publishing place go crazy as the day I brought in the first Conan painting.

The original gouache concept rough for the Conan the Buccanner cover

That was an interesting story. They commissioned me to do it and as usual I waited to the last minute. They called the day before it was due in and said, “Frank, how’s it coming?” At this point they had confidence in what I was doing. “By the way, what’s the concept?” I said, and I was being very facetious, “It’s a portrait.” There was silence at the other end. They had their own ideas, the obvious approach, a battle scene. They said, “A portrait?” In any event, I sat down and bashed it out in a day, brought it in, the place was in an uproar. They went crazy, they were drinking champagne. I even predicted it would turn the world of illustration upside down. Kind of arrogant, isn’t it? I knew it was a new look, nobody had ever seen something quite like it before. Maybe I just sensed the world was ready for something like that."

My thoughts:
How is this amazing? Just think about it. All this stuff was in done in a time when a lot of commercial paintings were crap. Crap with a capital K. Like all innovative artists then and now, he pushed the envelope, and elevated what was once considered a cheesy, niche medium into a fairly classy, yet still niche level. Wow. Such is the power of this man.

Frank also worked on the comic medium. He loved it in that he was able to craft his own stories - and what true artists doesn't want to do that? He lamented though at the modern comic industry, criticizing it for his overt use of special effects and lousy paneling. He described it just one "huge ego trip" - "Oooh! Look at my great coloring!" Ah, but anger has always been the source of nostalgia, hasn't it? Longing for the good ol' days. The "uncomplicated times" of our youth. Aaaah.

Well... That's all I'll say for now. Since you don't care to comment, Void, I won't say anything anymore. Just shut up and watch more Vampirella art. Sheesh.


2 comments

  1. Why haven't I heard of this blog until now? Is it because I'm too young. I'm only 52 and have just started going through all the scripture, art, history, philosophy, music, literature and science I wish to pursue.

    The only reason I found this is because I knew of Frazetta from reading Conan when I was in high school. One of his paperback covers was the basis for a humanities poster project - actually two, because I also based a wire sculpture on his work.

     
  2. ChrisK Says:
  3. First of all, welcome to the Concept Den! Probably the reason why you've never heard of this place is because I hardly advertise. I'd better work on that...

    Frank Frazetta's work and his style seems to be all the rage these days. There seems to be a renaissance going on with the amount of Conan stuff being made today. I myself haven't read the comics, or read the novels, but its nice to hear you were a fan of sorts back in the day. :)

     
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