Thursday, October 23, 2014

Frank Frazetta

It has been a while since my last post, real life work has taken hold of me, and between travelling to Notre Dame for a work conference and just being completely busy I feel bad that I have not posted at least something. 

I thought I would take this blog and talk about one of my favorite artists of all time. 

Frank Frazetta. 

(Self portrait of Frank by Frank)

No other fantasy artist in the genre has shaped the american fantasy art scene, in my opinion than Frank Frazetta. It is not just his finished pieces either. His sketches, and his pen & ink are equally magnificent. 

I read about him in many places, and his background in renaissance era art instruction shows through in every piece. His realistically human figures with all their flaws personify his artwork.His men were men for sure, but their rippling muscles and savagery are made more realistic by the love handles of their midsection. The fat, if you will, of a man who eats like a man and fights like one too. I can imagine many of his masculine heroes with a leg of meat in his hands with greasy juices dripping from his lips, as much as a bloody sword.  

His work on Conan can only be described as miraculous.  


While working on many of the dinosaurs for +Jeff Talanian's  AS&SH RPG game I constantly scoured the inter-webs for images that I could learn from, and I always came across Frank Frazetta's  artwork. Like the illustration above his realism is not just in his men-folk, but also in his creatures. 

They have a life that is brought to the viewer through the pen, and try as many have (including me) to replicate the vision and technique of Frazetta we have all failed. The weight of the creatures, their presence in the scene, can only be described as perfect. 

The combination of lights and darks, the contrast of creature against background, and sheer movement of all images in the drawing are a joy to look at. 


Am I wrong when I say that Frank's women were, real women! They had shape and form. They are not some slim waif of a girl, they had meat. I mean this in the best of ways too, they were a realistic replication of real women, not some modern idealistic image of girls to thin, weak and fragile. These women would either knock your socks off, or your head! 

There were not many "chainmail bikinis" either, they were either clothed in furs or nothing at all. Savage, feral, they were products of their environment. they could equally have risen from the ground they walked on, or drifted down to it from the clouds. 

Frank made them sexy, powerful and provocative. 


His beasts were great! Man things of the imagination, ripped between the forms of man and something altogether not man. You can see the beast, feel its hot breath on your face, smell the musky, earthy odor of it's fur-flesh, and damn near feel its claws sink into your chest.

They could be equally savage and bestial as they could be human. Looking into their eyes they somehow had the feel that there was some humanity in them that existed, but was suppressed by the beast on the outside. 

His technique is amazing. Subtle lines on paper indicating such movement, ferocity, and anger. The contract of blacks to whites, compliments the areas of heavy detail. 

Frank knew anatomy. He was an expert at drawing the human and not human form. He went beyond just drawing arms and legs, chests and abdomens with a head stuck on top. He understood the way a person moves, which muscles contracted when other relaxed. How skin creased, folded and spilled across a human form. 

He seemed to breath life onto paper. 

More of my original artwork to come in the next post. 

Thanks for looking, and comments always welcome. 

All images on this blog post are copyright Frank Frazetta, and used to honor the artist.