Thursday, May 13, 2010

Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010

I only became really aware of Frank Frazetta recently... in fact I just did this post about him about a month ago. While he is most famous for his fantasy paintings like Conan the Barbarian, I was more struck by a painting of a cowboy falling off his horse... the composition and technique just inspired me.

To be honest, the fantasy-style stuff was never my favorite, in any context. But Frazetta was someone I could admire: a true craftsman, with a defined style and mastery of his craft.

Frank wasn't just skilled at his one area of specialization, either. He used to draw Li'l Abner comics for Al Capp, and worked with Ralph Bakshi on his film "Fire and Ice". Even if is style is nothing like mine there is still a lot I could take away form his compositions, harsh shadows and highlights and just the understanding of the human form in both realistic (above) and caricatured ways.

This gorilla is awesome.

The above painting of Ringo is from a MAD Magazine in the 60's, and was an early break in his career. He also did a number of album covers in the 70s and 80s, mostly by heavy metal acts (another genre I am largely uninterested in). But that's another thing I liked about Frazetta- his work was exciting and unique and people liked looking at it. This is just something that is much rarer in popular culture these days, this appreciation for imagination and craftsmanship.

Read his obituatry here. It says he was so popular, publishers would buy one of his paintings to use as a cover, then commission some writer to bang out a story to publish it with. Now that's talent.

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