Comic Book Artists Remember FRANK FRAZETTA - Updated
Comic Book Artists Remember FRAZETTA
The news that legendary artist Frank Frazetta died today spread through the comic book industry, and creators reacted with both sadness and admiration for one of the greats.
Newsarama contacted several artists in the comics business to find out what influence Frazetta had on not only comic book art in general, but on their careers in particular:
I still have my original, beat up Bantam Frazetta editions. I used these as my bible when learning to draw and paint as a kid.Don Kramer
He was the artist that made it cool to like comics when I was a teenager. He transcended the medium and went so far as to bring sci-fi/fantasy art into the mainstream. His images are some of my earliest memories of what gripped me as a child. I used to carry around artbooks everywhere I went when I was in high school. I don't know if any of it shows in my artwork, but he was a tremendous influence on me in my younger years. His paintings and sketches are what made me want to be better as an artist. He showed me the potential of where art can go.
Frank Frazetta was an amazing influence on comics, both directly and indirectly. His small but amazing output of comic book work was the stuff of legend, even to my generation, who were too young to see the stories when they were first published. I discovered his Shining Knight stories in a 1980's DC reprint, and his EC work in Russ Cochran's terrific hardcover reprint books. I studied his Shining Knight work very closely, especially the way he drew horses -- winged horses, actually!
Frazetta also has had a big impact by way of his inspiration to several generations of comic book artists, including me. I have several art books full of Frank's paintings, which I page through whenever my artistic muse fails me. His paintings are thrilling. He achieved a lot of energy with splashes of brushstrokes, and tons of mood. The genre of fantasy painting was elevated by the work he did, first as covers to the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and later with him basically creating a market for the "Art of..." books. I'm sure I'm not alone in having purchased each volume of art book with Frazetta's name on the cover. He was a giant in the art field, and his legacy of work lives on. My condolences to his family and friends.
Just sad...really, not much more to say than that. His work speaks for itself.
I cherish every page of comics that Frank Frazetta produced, but like most people, it was the covers that really impressed, whether the ink renditions on the EC books, like the classic "Caveman" cover on Weird Science Fantasy, or the stunning paintings, particularly the Conan series and the Warren books -- Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Blazing Combat. His painting was gorgeous, his composition immaculate and his characters intensely real. The male characters were all scarred flesh, heavy muscles honed in battle, and eyes that had stared into the pit of Hell. The women were real women. Women with bellies, buttocks, hips and breasts that responded to gravity. What made these illustrations great was that each one told a story, and often a better story than those they were actually illustrating. Take any Frazetta painting and you could build an entire series around it. His influence on comics has been immeasurable. There is no depiction of heroic fantasy in comics that doesn't start out from his vision. He set the standard so high that the only comparison that can be made with his innumerable imitators, is to judge just how far short they fall.
I know Frank more for his paintings than his comics, but his comics work seems to have influence to this day on comics I see on the shelves. I would say the most profound is with the guys who came into the biz in the 70's; so many of them seem to be building on what Frank was doing in his work. As for me, Frazetta's old Conan and John Carter book covers were one of the main reasons I was even interested in fantasy books and art in general when I was a kid. The sheer drawing ability, his sense of movement and power, and the dramatic and iconic quality of his images are something I still aspire to create in my own work. His use of light and dark and his balance of compositional elements are astounding. I take heart in his ability to straddle the worlds of fantasy art and comics, a feat I continue to attempt this very day as I work on comics and illustrate novels and games. It seemed he was an artist first and the medium (ink vs. paint, comics vs. fantasy) was secondary to his strong vision.
The passing of Frank Frazetta is like the passing of a hero, who turns to challenge you and say "Get the Hell out here onto the field! If I can do it, you can do it! Damn you!"
But none of us could "do it" like Frank Frazetta.
He'll be missed because he was unique, and no one will ever fill his shoes.
All the rest of us can do is try.
To me, Frank was not only a founding father of comic book art, but the founding father of the modern fantasy art genre. Any time I look at a Frazetta piece, I discover something new that I hadn’t seen in the prior 1000 times I had looked at it before. And he made it all seem so effortless.
We are all very lucky for his talent, not only to the artists that he influenced and inspired, but for the many fans that were appreciative and touched by his works.
Wow. Growing up in the insular unpopulated area of Northwestern Connecticut, Frank's work had a particularly potent impact on me in the era before the internet and access to so many other distractions that this generation enjoys. His artwork transports the viewer and I could stare at his paintings seemingly for hours which fed an almost obsessive desire to paint like him and draw like him. It was something that drove me every time I picked up a pencil or paintbrush. In almost every piece of fantasy and comic art today, one could probably find influence and lineage to Frazetta and like the Beatles influence on music, Frank's impact on fantasy and comic art (and art in general) will probably be the well that generations to follow will draw from. What a gift and legacy, and for that I, for one, am truly grateful.
When I was a kid ,franks work was the first art I ever saw where I wanted to know who did it. As I got older, I picked up as much of his work that I could... comics, prints, posters and even paperbacks that featured his art on the cover. Years later, I learned how to ink using Xeroxs of his pages and copying them. As I started to make some cash, I went out and bought his original art and years later was lucky enough to visit him at home and gush how much his work changed my life and what I did for a living.
Honest, I could never thank him enough or express exactly how much his work changed my life and I never will ... But each generation has it's giants and Frank Frazetta was it for me.
Rest in peace Frank... The gods have you back now.
I've had Frazetta's work close to my drawing table for many years, and I always try to soak up a small part of the power he put into every image he ever drew. He was a lightning bolt of creativity and dynamic power in a field of mostly static, posed, photo traced work. Nobody ever had to explain the appeal of Frank's work to anyone. It reaches out and grabs you the minute you lay eyes on it, and makes you want more. He transcended his medium and influenced everything from comic books to music to movies and books. In an era when fine art consisted of mindlessly splattering canvasses and proving inane intellectual points, Frank Frazetta was showing that painting had more vitality than it ever had before.
Mike Deodato Jr.
The movement and energy of his drawings are unparallel until today, and it made a big impact on comics. He was also the finest draftsman who has ever lived, and his ability to imply textures using ink is incomparable. I was heavily influenced by him as everyone else. Every time I draw something organic, like plants, dinosaurs, warriors, and so forth, I go after his work for inspiration. That was a great loss. There will never be another Frazetta.
Words like "Legend," "Great" and "Giant" are thrown around way too often in our business, but Frank Frazetta made them look inadequate. In terms of pure talent, there hasn't been anyone to touch him and I can't imagine our industry seeing his like again.
As a young artist I studied his work until my eyes hurt trying to see how he did what he did. Trying to learn how to do it. But, of course, it was a waste of time.
A lot of guys over the years have tried to reproduce his style but, more than any other artist I can think of, it wasn't about learned and developed techniques. He just had something inside him that the rest of us don't. It's like something boiled up onto the canvas or the page and it wasn't anything anyone can learn or teach. Brutally powerful and yet so elegant.
There are two profound moments in my early, creative life; the Second was being at a loss at finding any good television one Saturday night, but my 11-year-old brain let me settle on a "weird" black and white movie that turned out to be "A Touch of Evil."
The First profound moment had been about a year earlier... my family had bought a bungalow in Avalon Park. There was a major supermarket within walking distance and my pop would send me to the store for his cigarettes (it was the '60s). I would dawdle, of course, patrolling the aisles for Pop-Tarts and such. At the far side of the store, past the hardware and soap, I discovered the magazine rack. I still have vivid dreams about that very spot. On that rack was the first Warren comic I would ever see! It was probably a Blazing Combat, the one with the tank, or maybe the one with the GI bayoneting the German. Either way, Pop-Tarts went way down on the list of interests whenever I had to run an errand to that store. Glee and revelry are what I found there, and it was probably a few months before I really attached a name to the artist that painted these covers: Frank Frazetta. It wasn't long before I began copying the art, or long before I had abandoned the general comic genre for pure horror, sci-fi and warfare. I still keep a collection of Jonny Comet next to my desk. My pop, who was also an artist, swore up and down that this stuff would "warp my mind." Well, it did.
Frank Frazetta warped my mind! God Bless You, Frank! Rest in Peace.
As a kid growing up in the '70s, Frazetta's amazing work was everywhere: Magazine covers, book covers, calendars and posters. He painted several Battlestar Galactica images that blew me away. You knew even as a kid that you were looking at the work of a master.
Later, when I was first starting out in comics, I was obsessed with MIke MIgnola's art, particularly on Cosmic Odyssey. My editor on Hawk and Dove, Mike Carlin, suggested I look at all of Frazetta's work to better understand his influence on Mignola, who later confirmed how much Frazetta transformed his own approach. I was blown away at the level of influence Frazetta had on so many of the artists whose work I admired. His ink work and compositions became extremely influential to my own approach. There were so many aspects to his art that you could isolate and study. Some picked up his painting techniques, others his powerful figure work, especially his signature female stylings... there was so much to impress and marvel at. Between Frank Frazetta and Jack Kirby, you essentially cover the two biggest influences on modern comic book art and storytelling. An amazing pillar of creative artistry has passed but left so much for us to admire and remember him with.
The most fascinating quality in Frazetta's work is the way the content grabs you by the throat and pulls you in. It consumes you. You fear the monsters and you fall in love with the women. That moment is your reality. It's only later that you notice the painting itself. What power.
Like every artists out there I've studied Frazetta's work endlessly and I've done my best to crack the code of how it works. I've humbled myself many times by trying to sketch from his work and I've shamelessly stolen his color selections for my own illustrations. There's so much knowledge in every piece of art he's created you could spend a lifetime studying it.And most of us do. Arthur Baltazar
Frazetta was the father of the dynamic heroic figure. His paintings captured the imagination and transported you to another world filled with fantasy, adventure, heroism and romance. To me, Mr. Frazetta created the look of Conan. Whenever I imagine Conan, I refer to the Frazetta painting in my mind. He set the standard of what a fantasy world should be! Mr. Frazetta has inspired generations of comic book artists and showed them how the paint...The Good Guy!