Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I like Frank Frazetta



Frazetta's art has had a huge influence on myself and many others. His paintings have a classic look as if done by Leonardo Da Vinci, but with a cartoony aspect. His mastery of anatomy is unmatched. The skin colors, and textures are natural and Frank always created a strong, eye-catching composition. There are bluish-green accents in the skin colors which do appear in real skin, and the figures always look as if they had been in the sun. Also note the subtle bit of cottage cheese on the hindquarters of the girl riding the centaur. Very convincing, and erotic. After first becoming aware of Frazetta's cover art for the Conan paperback books around 1973-74, (they originally appeared in the mid-sixties), I spent countless hours slavishly copying and studying every fold of skin, even trying to duplicate the colors with prismacolor pencils. I never aspired to paint but the drawing skill in Frank's work gave me a foundation for life-drawing, which brings up a related point: when drawing a live model, concentrate on drawing exactly what you see and resist the urge to get creative and caricature. The time you have with the model is limited so use it to study and draw what you see - later when there is no model, you can go hog wild, taking whatever liberties using the information implanted during the drawing of the real thing.
Recommended reading: Frank's work on Lil' Abner during the 1950s. They are available in hardcover compilations from Kitchen Sink. Frank was Al Capp's assistant for about nine years, and though Capp would redraw some of the faces to conform to his own style, the rest of the work was pure Frazetta.

9 comments:

Rooniman said...

Whoa, I never knew Frank assisted for Al Capp. Almost as surprising as to see his funny animal cartoon work.

Jim Smith said...

Yes RM, his funny animal stuff looks freaky, but still compelling.

David Gale said...

I remember reading somewhere that Frazetta never used models or references to draw this stuff. Blows my mind!

Eric Noble said...

Frank Frazetta is a god to me. Very nice tip.

Jim Smith said...

David, Frank did use photo reference, usually of himself and his wife Ellie, but he also could do it from memory as the years went by. Many of the early paintings with a half naked man were based on him. Check out the hardcover books on razetta from Vanguard.
He had supernatural ability and also had Major League baseball skill being drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, I think it was.

Eric Noble said...

Was there anything Frank Frazetta couldn't do?

Rich Dannys said...

Apparently the only authentically "pure Frazetta" found in the LIL ABNER work were the strips that featured Marilyn Monroe as a character. These are the only examples that Frazetta claims were both pencilled and inked solely by him alone..
There are many examples of work where Frazetta fans can find "pure Frazetta".. But the Kitchen Sink volumes that Frazetta ghosted aren't where it can be found..
As Frazetta describes his own work under Capp during that period: "Nine Years shot to Hell!!"
http://tinyurl.com/24t8aem

Jim Smith said...

Rich, I have not seen the Marilyn Monroe sequence yet, these are from 1954 and though he was drawing in the style of Capp, you can see Frank's superb brush and ink work. The strip without him never had this degree of quality, and while he may have hated it Frazetta always gave it his all as is clear in these samples. Thanks for the info.

Eric Noble said...

I love how Frazetta could mix the cartoony with life drawing, as evidenced by the Marlon Brando parody he did. I think he did fine work with Al Capp.