Monday, November 16, 2015

The Essence Of Frazetta

This is my last video and I ask the question what piece represents the essence of Frazetta. There are many answers to this question. People see different things in different works. I can see a very legitimate argument being made for any Canaveral plate, or Conan oil, or Death Dealer, or the Cat Girl oil. Curious what your thoughts are. You have time to deliberate as you wait for your catalogs to be delivered.

There is a very interesting Frazetta story at the end. In a few places in the video I am glancing to my right. I am actually looking at my iphone clock timer trying to keep the video under twenty minutes. I just made it by 15 seconds! My secure digital card had a twenty minute limit. Whew! I wanted to get it all in one take.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Frazetta Catalogs Almost Gone!!

If you want a catalog, you better order rather quickly. They are close to selling out. Go to the PROFILES IN HISTORY web site to order.

I just got my advance copy. The book reflects all the expectations I had for it. It is a stunning presentation, engaging, and immersive. This is as close as one can get to actually approximate seeing the original art. This catalog will instantly become a collector's item. I cannot wait for Frazetta fans and connoisseurs to get this volume in their hands. It is worth every penny.

What an incredible labor of love this represents and the very finest tribute to the legacy of Frank Frazetta!!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Frazetta Catalogs

The catalogs JUST came in from the binder. The first comment I heard was : "It's beautiful!"

I do not have a copy yet. Should be shipping very very soon.
Exciting times for Frazetta collectors!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Comments on Frazetta Erotic Images

As I promised, the images have been removed after a three day period. I had over a thousand views and countless positive comments. ONE person thought I was doing a disservice to the Frazetta family. What total nonsense. No one has done more to promote Frazetta's legacy for inclusion in art history. That takes intelligence and passion. I have been doing it for 35 years.  I have a legal right to show anything that I am selling. People must see things in order to buy them. This is only common sense.

Ellie Frazetta sold the supposedly racist cover to THUNDA 1 by giving it to an auction house. It was their cover image and made a lot of money for Ellie. Was she doing a disservice to the family? No, she was making money, doing business. Let us not be hypocrites here. The family sold the allegedly racist interior pages. Should they be blamed for tarnishing the legacy of Frank? No, of course not. Frank Frazetta loved this art. Everyone needs to understand that. Frank Jr. offers a portfolio of black natives on his web site. one is eating watermelon. Racist?  No, I think not. IT IS ART as visualized by Frank. These are beautifully drawn and beautifully colored. Is Frank Jr doing a disservice to the family? Absolutely not. He is exhibiting another facet of Frank's work.

Expand your horizons and see great art for what it is.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Frazetta Canaveral Plates

This is a two-part video covering some of the major Canaveral plates. Sorry about the confusion about the actual total number of plates.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Frazetta Forgeries and Important News

A few things:
Please do not send me any Frazetta images to authenticate. I have been swamped with people showing me forgeries and it is not my place to be the ultimate decision maker. It takes time and I am not getting paid to do it. Let the buyer beware. THERE ARE MANY MANY forgeries out there at all levels, from sketch to illustration to painting. I am done with that, sorry. I had to shut down all my comment/messages because of the influx of nonsense.

The PROFILES IN AUCTION catalog will be mailed right around November 11. A last minute decision by the PROFILES attorneys prevented the Frazetta explicit erotic artworks from being displayed in the catalog. This is, of course, very disappointing. The cultural climate is different here than in, let us say, Europe. In Europe all the auction catalogs are filled with erotic art. We still have this strong puritanical streak that essentially amounts to censorship. What I have decided to do is post all those images on this site next Thursday for a period of three days. I have to watermark the images. The internet is a vast toilet and there are people who will uprez any image and start selling prints even though they have no rights to do so. Uprez software like Genuine Fractals does wonders. Watermarking makes that a little more difficult. So please mark the time and I will get the images up.

Thank you!


Monday, October 26, 2015

PRESS photos from Frazetta Auction Catalog

Here is a little sneak peek at the printing house. The catalog is scheduled to be mailed on November 11.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


One video will be auto-loaded each week:
I will have very limited internet, if at all, for next week.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Frazetta Catalog ONLINE!!!

The digital version of the PROFILES IN HISTORY auction catalog is now online: You might have to cut and paste this into your browser.

There are no reserves. The estimates are quite reasonable. The quality of the art will determine the final value of the art in the marketplace.

Enjoy the catalog!

The hardbound catalog will be out in early November and it is selling quite well. Many collectors are buying two with the expectation that this will become a collector's item in the future. For the true Frazetta connoisseur this catalog is a necessity!!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Few Choice Frazetta Selections

A few selections from the wall. Everything is, of course, long gone. My walls are bare. My apologies for the shaky and jiggly video. It was impossible for me to hold the camera still and talk at the same time. One man operation!
Enjoy it anyway!

Frazetta Catalog Covers

These are the final version front and back covers for the forthcoming PROFILES IN HISTORY catalog. I have seen the final proofs and this catalog will simply be the finest auction catalog ever seen. Many people have poured their heart and soul into this project including Joe Maddalena, the owner and the person with the vision to initiate this project, and the other catalog specialists: Joe Moe, Lou Bustamante. Julie Gauvin, Rob Pistella, Marc, Brian....what a dedicated crew. My hat is off to all of them. This was a collective labor of love.

The catalog will establish a new standard of excellence in the field. It is currently at the printer and should be available in early November. Oversize, 200 pages, archival paper, and all imagery scanned directly from the original art. A first!  No transparencies or slides needed. An amazing direct experience of art from page to brain!! This catalog WILL become a collector's item in itself.

The collection will be online next week. I will be posting quick three part video showcasing a few more highlights. After that I will post some more individual videos about other major originals, the Canaveral covers, The Black Nazgul, The Pteradactyls, and the Lion Queen.



Thursday, October 15, 2015


A new video about the history and importance of this amazing two page comic book story. My next video will be a three part video just showing selections from my walls. Of course, all the art is long gone off my walls so please do not ask me to sell you something before the auction. I have nothing left to sell!!

Remember to adjust the screen to the highest quality or the video will be blurry.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Frazetta's WINDBLOWN pencil Masterpiece

I apologize for the lapse in production quality. The camera dropped down on the tripod while filming. Also, the white balance shifted in the early portion of the talk. I have no idea why that would happen. I will clean up my act in the remaining vids. The message is still there, however, Enjoy the video!!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Frazetta Lord of The Savage Jungle Canaveral Plate

I was able to upload an HD video this time so the quality is a bit better. I will attempt to upload a new video each week until we get to the PROFILES IN HISTORY auction on December 11. I am simply providing an unrehearsed and very spontaneous overview of some of the key pieces in this auction. I have a very large number of "foundational" pieces so I will not be able to cover everything.

Enjoy these few minutes!

Doc Dave

Monday, September 28, 2015

Frazetta Thoughts

I got out my camera and set it up on a tripod, adjusted the light and sound, then stepped in front of it to say a few words about Frazetta. Everything is spontaneous and rather heartfelt. If people like this I might do a few more on selected Frazetta topics. I hope it works properly. This is the first time I used the new uploading device on this site.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Frazetta Auction Update

Please check the PROFILES IN HISTORY web site for current details about ordering catalogs
The auction will be held on December 11. There will be exhibits in New York and Los Angeles prior to the auction.
The catalog is shaping up to be simply sensational. It will be hardbound and oversize. In over forty years of getting auction catalogs of every size, shape, and quality, this one will be the best and will showcase the extreme quality present in this collection.

Thank you!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Frazetta Auction

The time has arrived. I will be selling my collection in December through the PROFILES IN HISTORY auction house. There are many extraordinary examples that will be offered. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bid in a once-in-a-lifetime collection. I have passionately and lovingly assembled these originals over the past fifty years and have always collected with an eye to quality, not nostalgia, fad, or the moment's fashionable artist. Frazetta is and will always be a part of art history.

There will be a luxury oversized hardbound catalog for this auction. I will write the descriptions and provide background stories where appropriate. The catalog will be unique in the narrative context that is provided for the art. The collection will also include inscribed books, photographs, portfolios, paperbacks, books, and a near complete set of Frazetta fanzines from the past forty years. In short, it will be a treasure trove of Frazetta goodness.

The announcement is being made official today at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con. I will update this site with more information as I get it. This is just the start of the process. Do not ask about individual pieces just yet. Much that is in these blog pages will be for auction.

Start saving your pennies! Once these originals are sold I doubt if you will see them again for a long time. Fair warning has been given!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Frazetta and the Brooklyn Accent

I was asked the interesting question of what happened to Frazetta's Brooklyn accent. Every borough of New York City has its' own distinctive language pattern. Staten Island residents speak differently from people in Queens; the Bronx is different from Manhattan. Historically, the most extreme accent is spoken by the Brooklynites. Brooklyn was nationally famous for its' accent and distinctive linguistic patterns. Many many famous celebrities, scientists, and athletes all started in Brooklyn, e.g. Jackie Gleason, Michael Jordan, Barbra Streisand, Sandy Koufax, Jerry Seinfeld, Bobby Fischer, and thousands more.  Ellie and the kids still had their New York accents in varying degrees. Of course, it's only natural that kids would emulate their mother. Yes, I did specifically ask Frank about this. Frank spoke very clear unaffected English the whole time I knew him. Here is the short explanation:

"While I was growing up I noticed that all the people on television and in the movies spoke a certain way. They spoke differently from everyone I knew.  While I was in grade school some of the kids starting calling some of the other kids 'Brooklyn Hillbillies'. Minga. They teased them because of the way they talked. Some of the kids had heavy accents. It never used to bother me. I really didn't pay attention, but then I started to think about it. It did sound kind of ignorant and lower class. It was a harsh sound to my ear. Sinatra didn't sound like that, and he was from Jersey. We hated most people from Jersey, looked down on them. I don't know why, we just did.  I started to really get bothered. Did I sound like that? I asked my mom. She thought I was nuts. I started to listen more closely to the TV shows and movies. One of the movies had a guy saying 'get rid of that accent or you'll never be a success'. FucnnnnnnAaaaaaay! A light went on...I never thought about just changing how I talked. I wanted a taste of success. I wanted that sweet smell of success in my life. I was surrounded by losers. I didn't want that. I despised those guys. Real lowlifes. The next day I went to see the speech therapist at school. She was a nice old lady who no one really noticed. We thought anyone who saw her was a retard. She helped kids who had bad stutters or other problems. She was very kind and met me after school. I was scared that someone would see me. It would have led to a fight for sure. She gave me a sheet of words to practice with. She told me to look into the mirror and slowly pronounce the words. Speak everything clearly, dont drag out the syllables. She said people in Brooklyn are lazy speakers. I didnt know what she meant.
She said I had to build new mouth habits. Repetition. Practice it, just like someone would practice pitching or hitting. I did it. Actually, it wasn't easy. Very frustrating. I had to stay with it.  For weeks I stared into the mirror and kept saying that whole list of words over and over. I made sentences. It took me a few months, but I got rid of it. I can still talk Brooklyn if I need to. Why would I need to? Minghia!  Fuggettaboutit, eh?  [Frank laughs and blasts out a fusillade of choice Brooklynisms. Funny as hell. ]

(C) 2014 DocDave Winiewicz

World's Shortest Frazetta Discussion

I was asked whether or not there were areas that Frank would not talk about. Well, yes, there was one area. I grew up in the sixties at a time when music and politics were central to just about everyone's life. It's hard to convey just how important music was to everyone in the 1962-1973 period during the Vietnam chaos. My cultural formation was grounded in this music. I went to Woodstock in 1969,  and wrote half of my senior honor's thesis on Bob Dylan, entitled "On Xenogenesising A Generation: The Ideas Of Dylan"a 120 page epic.  With that as background I asked Frank the following question:

Dave: "Frank, what do you think about the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan? What about Elvis? You look like his brother for god's sake! Who did you listen to in the  fifties and sixties?

Frank: "Rock and Roll Sucks!"

Dave: "That's it?"

Frank: "That's it."

That's our Frank.

Now indulge me in a little before and after narcissism.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Frazetta and Photography and Life

The following discussion takes place in late summer of 2002, almost one year before I moved out west. I arrived at the Frazetta estate on Saturday at ten in the morning. Ellie greeted me at the door and said that Frank was still asleep. Ellie asked me to take her to the grocery store to buy a few things for lunch. I was not happy to hop back in the car after just driving 340 miles, but that is the way things go in Frazettaland. 

We got back and Ellie treated me by making peppers and eggs, my favorite. Frank walked into the kitchen bleary-eyed and asked for coffee. He hopped into the shower while Ellie finished cooking. Frank went into the studio, grabbed a camera, and fired off a few shots of me happily devouring my peppers and eggs. After lunch we took a ride to the local camera store. It was a beautiful day and Frank was in good spirits and very lucid. He spoke well and his mind was crisp. Later that afternoon we got back to the studio, made some coffee, and sat down to talk. I threw him a manila envelope that contained some photography magazines and a few photos. We had a discussion on the phone during the previous week about our all-time favorite photos.  I brought some copies.

"Thanks for bringing these. I'm having a hard time finding Shutterbug anywhere around here. Yes, this is the photo I mentioned. [Frank holds the famous Eddy Adams picture of the field execution of a Viet Cong soldier.] I love this picture because of the power, the intensity. It's real, it happened. That adds to the power. Life and death. It had an impact. What do you think?"

I pick up the other two photos. One is a famous landscape by Ansel Adams, the other is by William Eggleston. "I can see why you'd like that photo, Frank. It is something you could have painted or drawn. But it's a piece of reportage, a shot taken to record an event. That soldier was responsible for killing Vietnamese soldiers and American soldiers. The commander told the photographer that he was justified in killing him on the spot. Is this artful? Is it creative? No, I don't think so. Look at the Ansel Adams print. This might be his most famous image. Driving along the back roads in New Mexico he sees the light appearing and stops his van. He sets up a huge 8x10 view camera and guesses the exposure based on the dying daylight. He visualizes the scene that is appearing and then takes the shot. What he captured was the process of creation itself...emerging light bringing things into existence. It's biblical in its impact. That great expanse of black sky, the crosses in the foreground, make it even more powerful than that execution photo, in my opinion. Great art contains more than just what the surface reveals, Frank. Your art certainly does that. There is a deeper involvement."

"Yes, I see what you mean. We talked about this before, haven't we? The fan ends up knowing more than the artist!"  He laughs.

"No, no, Frank. There are depths inside you that you are not consciously aware of. The unconscious, the subconscious...that's the mystery of art, the mystery of creation. It all flows from you to me in some indescribable manner. That flow has been going on your whole life. Look at that Eggleston photo, it illustrates what I'm talking about. It is filled with symbolism of all sorts. The tricycle represents freedom to a child. It is shot from a lower perspective. He must have taken the shot while lying on the ground. The trike is bigger than life for a kid. Look's the American dream being depicted.  A house, a car...this is the future dream for that child. It won't be easy the skies aren't blue, the grass is burned out, the trike is rusty and old. Achieving the dream will take a lot of effort."

All that is in the picture? He put all that in the picture when taking it? Impossible. You're reading into it. I think your explanation is better than the photo.

Not consciously, Frank. He is a great and sensitive photographer. He is presenting a vision that has depth. We engage with it in the same way that people engage with your Conan oils. Remember that discussion we had a few years back about all the symbolism in those oils? Remember how we talked about all that vaginal and penis symbolism in the Conan Usurper oil?
It's there, very powerfully there. Can you deny it? But you weren't conscious of all that when doing it, were you? But it is there.  [To clarify what we are talking about here, I am referring to a time right after Frank moved back from Florida. The Boca Grande museum closed and all the art was now in the house. Most of it was casually stored in Frank's studio. It was late summer, brutally hot and humid, and we sat in the studio talking. No air conditioning, no fans, just raw heat. Ellie was bringing us strong Irish coffees. We had about 6 each and got progressively plastered. We took off our shirts and shoes, sat in our shorts like cavemen, and Frank placed each Conan oil on the easel. We talked about what was there. Frank spoke about his intentions; I spoke about all the implicit symbolism and metaphors he was using. We argued and fought about the tiniest details. What a night. This is one of the few times I did not take extensive notes, and I never set up a tape recorder. What a loss. We progressively got drunker and drunker. Everything became progressively blurry and unfocused. I do recall sleeping on the sofa surrounded by all the Conan oils. I looked at them, and looked at all of Frank's loaded weapons strewn about and recall thinking that I was well-protected that night...and I slept a very deep sleep. The only event that was comparable to this took place after the grand opening of the third museum. Frank invited me, Nick Meglin, and Angelo Torres back to his studio for coffee. Everyone was charged up from that perfect day at the opening. We talked and argued and debated late into the night about the nature of art, the nature of creativity, the nature of Frank's art, and the various thoughts about Wally Wood's art, among many others. Interestingly, everyone (including Frank) concluded that Wood's best art was the funny stuff he did for Mad. Frank explained that the sci-fi stuff for EC was good, but had a stiffness about it because Wally refused to animate and move the spine properly.  It was like the later Foster Prince Valiant work. Frank loved Wood and had the highest respect for him. He said that Wood was a man's man, and anything Wally said was heartfelt and authentic. No BS in Wally at all. Frank appreciated that. He said, "compared to Woody, everyone else is a hypocrite."

Yeh, yeh, I remember. I still have a hard time believing all that. You did open my mind quite a bit about those things. That's a new world for me. I never used to intellectualize about my art. I would just do it.  See it and paint it. Simple. Now I think more. It takes energy. It's like all those strange movies you wanted me to look at.  So different.  [Over the years I encouraged Frank to look at Godard, Fellini, Kurosawa, Antonioni, among others.]

Frank...when it comes to photography, you take a very literal approach. You document events; you preserve memories of family and events, but you don't approach it like you approach your art. The closest you get to that level is when you take those photographs of yourself with a self-timer. Some of them are brilliant. Why did you take so many shots of yourself in those years?"

"Hell, I was a great looking guy. Why not? It was fun. That early comic stuff was shot by Al and Angelo. They had cameras. We loved the acting. Good times."

You're a photographic gearhead , Frank. You just like the act of playing with the camera.

You're right there! Look at all the damn cameras I have. Do I need so many? Now these digital cameras are here. What's gonna happen? Will these film bodies become obsolete, a waste of money? Now, at the end of my life, they invent this. I need more time.

Forget it, Frank, you got tons of money. I think a lot of people misunderstand your love of the hobby. Dont you still get upset when people accuse you of swiping? They still talk about that box of swipes you kept in a box or cabinet. They say you burned everything to polish a myth. Deceit and lying...those bastards actually accuse you of a massive cover-up. They said you were a fraud. They want you dragged down to their level.

Boy, that BS never ends, does it. I had a group of art students here. They came in a bus from New York. I went to the museum. I tried to be nice and answer questions. You know I have my bad days and don't get across my thoughts too well. They would not believe that I made this stuff up. They told me right to my face that it was impossible. What can I do? Paint on the spot. Haven't enough people seen me do it...time and time again. Ask Al, ask Nick, ask Angelo, ask Russ, ask anyone who knows me. Wally Wood, Roy, Reed, all those guys at EC. You know better than anyone. How many times have you seen me make things up? It all goes back to that book I published. I included that photo I took of myself for that Clint Eastwood picture. [He refers to the Living Legend book and the Gauntlet photo study.]  After that everyone thought I used photos for everything. Someone showed me a photo from one of the girly things I did.  A guy showed me one of Al's photos from Squeeze Play. Remember that story? We used photos back then, yes. Not a lot. Not me. Have you ever seen Wally Wood's swipe files?  He's got everything, really, everything. What about Al and Roy. Wow! They have filled file cabinets...many file cabinets. I was always breaking Roys balls about swiping. He always responded the same: Frank, Picasso said to steal from the best if you want to get better. Thats what Im doinggetting better.  Look at me. I sit down, do a drawing, make a comp, then just do it. Yes, I had a box of photos and clippings. Doesn't everyone? Nice pictures you clip out and save. Everyone does that, don't they? Don't you? Of course, you do. I had a pile of x-rated photos in there as well. That's why I burned it. I didn't want the kids to get a hold of that stuff. What aggravating bullshit that whole thing caused me. I never denied using some photos, using some reference. I thought all those examples were well known by now. I guess not. What about the movie posters. Most of that was drawn from reference photos of the stars sent to me by the studios.  That is pretty standard. The people have to be spot on. No interpretation. You have to recognize the star in the movie poster or it's a failure.  Even with all the photos there's a hell of a lot of creativity in those posters. I worked my ass off on those things. That's a lot of work in there, a lot. And what about people getting all upset when they discover I used a couple of things in the Destroyer painting. Big deal. I took a shot of Billy's back to check some lighting. I borrowed something else that Roy showed me...some little foreground piece. It fit in. Big deal. When I changed the figure of Conan I made a couple of little've seen them. I added a little wash and, then, bang, I just painted it in. Done. Perfect. I used some Foster on Thunda and the cowboy stories...old news, isn't it? I always changed those swipes, made them better. Check them out.  I used a couple of shots for ACE covers as well. People run down my whole career because of a few images? They don't know what the hell they're talking about. I've been making things up since I was 5 years old. I did use a lot of magazine images for that girly stuff I did in the sixties. They paid me nothing and I just knocked that stuff out. I never even wanted the originals back. Why? It wasn't me. The few things I kept were 100% me. That floating girl drawing. I worked hard on that to get it right. I did tons of little comps. It was fun. It came out great and I kept it. It was special to me. I never should have sold it. The Canaverals...all made up. You saw my little comps for them. Barely nothing. Little forms, no lighting...that's all I needed. Show me someone else who could do that. Name something, anything...I can draw it and draw it well. I've always had that ability. Call it a gift. I got it...had it. None of that had anything to do with my photography, nothing. Cameras are totally separate. My art has always been based on me, not swipes. 98% vs 2%. Is that being a fraud?

Another example, I keep hearing that I based the Conan face on Charles Bronson, or Jack Palance, or a combination of any number of others. These experts think they know more about me than I do. It's not that easy. No, no, no way..
The truth is that I had no one directly in mind when I painted that face. No one at all. I wanted a look, a deep feeling, intimidation, power, menacing. I kept working it until I felt it, just to get the quality I wanted.  I wasn't looking at pictures or thinking about faces. I was way beyond that at that point, way beyond that. I was trying to capture the feeling, the mood. I wanted it to...what's the word?...radiate? I just can't express it right. Everyone tries to simplify the process. You can't do it. It's a kind of magic, a kind of gift that's personal and hidden. You understand me better than anyone. You made me aware of this mystery. How often have we talked about this over the years. I do think about it. I did things and I just dont know how I did them.

Frank, I have always defended you quite vigorously on this issue.  People just don't get how lazy you are!!  [We both have a good deep laugh]. Look at Al and Roy. They were meticulous in their swiping. They never denied it. Why should they? Im not denigrating them. Thats one approach, and a very common one.  It was part of their art process just like it was an essential part of Norman Rockwell's art approach. Countless photos of everything, then everything carefully and wonderfully assembled into an idea. Raymond, Elvgren, hundreds of illustrators...for god sake, that is not the pathway of Frank Frazetta. You would never have the patience for that approach...never...not even close. If people really knew you, or saw you work, then they wouldn't spray all that nonsense all over the place. I always tell people just to appreciate the gift and the results. I think a lot of artists are just intimidated by someone like you. They can't do what you do, so they have to deny that you can really do it. I guess it makes them feel better. Artists are famous for their insecurities. Using reference is one approach to art and it is used by most. No problem. You are completely different. That's the source of your power.

That's for sure. Look at Wally and Reed drinking themselves to death. Roy had a hard time being confident enough to finish a drawing. He couldn't do it. Swiping and stealing is the easy road. There are a lot of others. Art is not an easy field. Most that are in it probably shouldn't be. They can't draw. They fake it with machines. I was one of the lucky ones to make it the way I did. And I didn't have the easiest time either after I left Capp. Tough times. That's another thing that bothers me. They keep calling me a fantasy artist. I can't stand that. Is that all I can do? I can do anything. I've done everything. Not just fantasy. Nudes, landscapes, portraits, on and on and on. I am a creative artist. I make it up. I've been doing it all my life. Didn't I tell people in that documentary that my art and cameras are completely separate. And you tell me...why in every article do they start out by saying "Brooklyn-born" Frank Frazetta? Why? What the hell is the fascination with Brooklyn? They probably have never been there. It was great growing up...plenty of fields, open spaces. Good memories of playing ball. But, Jesus Christ, it just turned to sh*t. Thieves, scum, liars, class. There were killers walking the streets. I'm not lying. I couldn't wait to get out of there. It's no place to live. It's not safe. Everyone trying to get over on everyone else.  And I want myself to be constantly associated with THAT? That annoys the hell out of me; it really does. Tell them, will you. No more. If I loved it I would still be there. No way. They can keep it. I had nothing but problems there. Forget it. Remember that time we drove there in my Jaguar? I told you then. It hasn't got any better. Still bad. Tell them to change it to "American-born ". That's a thousand times better.

Then there are those fans who keep telling me that I use myself a lot as a model. They see it clearly. They see me painting myself into everything. Everywhere they look they also see Ellie as the model for all my women. Do they really think I'm like Boris? What are they looking at? How can they see me and Ellie in just about everything? Ellie as Cat Girl? Ellie as Golden Girl? Are they insane, blind, what?  Me as Conan? Me as John Carter? What?

Yes, I keep reading that Ellie was your muse. Many writers keep saying that.

What do they mean by that?

Well, a muse is someone who is a source of inspiration for an artist or author. It can refer to a wife, girlfriend, or mistress, or just about anything. Many artists talk about their muses who deeply influenced their work.

Well then, I must have about a hundred muses. Ellie as my muse is crazy talk, nuts. I painted her a few times. So what? I painted the kids too. I painted my mom, and I painted Christ himself. The one time I really did want to use her and she said a flat "no". I had an idea to do a follow-up book to that book of monsters I did for Danzig. It would be in different types of pencil, all nudes, all using Ellie, and using very different types of really dramatic lighting. Ellie would have been my life model. She said "no". She said she was too busy with the business and the kids. I dropped the whole thing. At that moment I was really motivated, excited about the idea. Danzig would have published it. Something totally new. What a letdown. I did have a woman in the museum a while back who came up to me and said "how does it feel to have a perfect marriage?"  Perfect marriage??? She doesn't know me at all, and she says THAT? Christ, I should have gotten a divorce years ago. I'd never be in the spot I'm in now. I hate it when strangers talk about my life. Who the hell has a perfect marriage?

People get that idea based on the pictures in the books showing you and Ellie. You appear quite happy. They draw a conclusion from that. People are always quick to jump to conclusions about just about anything.

Of course I was happy then. People don't take pictures of themselves fighting, do they?  Those were very early pictures. Things changed. I made a big mistake by not making a move. Everyone would be happier. The kids would have been better off. I see that now. I was too lazy, too weak, too comfortable. I accept blame. I did things. A lot of things. Im not proud of it. You know that.  You get used to things. You get used to anything.  Bring me that Golden Girl off the wall. Look at that picture.
Where do you see Ellie? In the straight hair? The face? The long legs? The tall body? The large breasts? There's nothing of Ellie in that figure. Nothing at all. But ...Ellie tells them in the museum that she is the golden girl, and everyone believes her. Look with your eyes for cripes sake. That stuff upsets me. What can I do? I don't have the energy. Im an old man.

Frank, I remember years ago when we talked about this. You said that if someone wants to analyze your pictures, then look at Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Victor Mature, Jack Palance, Burt Lancaster and others for your male form. Look at Marilyn Monroe, Bridget Bardot, Merle Oberon, Anna May Wong, Elizabeth Taylor , and all those pinup girls from the late 40's and 50's for your female types. Who did I forget? Betty Page? Mamie Van Doren? And that girl photographer. Who was that? I forget. Irish McCalla?

Great memory, as always. Yes, absolutely right. What a bombshell she was!  What a face! I could draw her perfectly right now. All that is what I saw, what I remember, what is mixed into my mind when I pull up something in my imagination. Look at that unfinished EC story. [Frank is referring to the Came The Dawn story]  Is that me as the main character? Hell no. It is a mix of all those guys. Everyone says it's me. The girl is purely made up. I wasn't thinking of anyone in particular. That would have been a great story. Too bad. Too late now. Hey, I'm an old man, I'm sick, I got tons of problems. I'm lucky to be alive. I really get discouraged about this stuff. I expected my fans to have more on the ball. I'm going to stop going to the museum. It gets too damn depressing.

Forget it, Frank. Dont get upset about those ignorant few. Youve got great fans out there. I talk to them all the time. Your impact is there. You are on a different level. The audience will rise to a higher level in the future. The quality of your work will keep bringing in people with some brains and clout. Your legacy is secure. You don't have a damn thing to prove to anyone. Stop fighting with Ellie over nonsense. It only stresses you out and nothing comes of it. I told you a thousand times. Get all that negativity out of your life. Watch baseball, play with the grandkids, and enjoy your cameras. Do what you enjoy. Screw everything else.

You're right. Ready for another cup of coffee?

[An aside to clarify the photography issue a bit: Frank is the most fanatical camera shutterbug I have ever met. He loves photography as much as anything on this planet. However, Frank's priority is with the physical equipment, not the photograph. Modern photography has given this a name, namely, he suffers from G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome). He loves cameras as an end in itself. For example, when Frank had his first major stroke in 1995, I went to Stroudsburg immediately. Everyone thought he was ready to die. Ellie called me in tears and said I needed to come down immediately. Well, one day after the stroke, Frank began to recover in almost miraculous fashion. His right hand and arm were numb and his speech was still garbled. He started to recover from these deficits. The first thing he asked me to do was bring him a Pentax lens from the house. He wanted a 50mm lens that had a special coating. I brought it and he fondled it like a rosary during his recovery. He wanted to look at it, feel it, and appreciate it as an aesthetic object. It gave him comfort and something to concentrate on. He cherished his camera collection and prided himself on the quality of his lenses. He loved reading about cameras, about lenses, and kept up on the values of used cameras. I taught him how to read MTF charts, so he could better evaluate lens quality. We spent countless hours talking about resolution, vignetting, and chromatic aberrations. Photography also got Frank into trouble in his early years. Ellie told a lot of fans, including me, the famous story of Frank stealing cameras from a local camera store. He then sold those cameras to a pawnshop in the same neighborhood. Not smart. He got arrested and called Harvey Kurtzman to bail him out. Harvey asked Al Williamson to help raise the bail money. Frank used the arrest, among other things, as a badge of honor. All these "events" are probably the reason Frank was never drafted for the Korean War. He was a persona non grata.
His enthusiasm for cameras was infectious. He infected everyone around him with the shutterbug disease. During my last phone call with Frank in April, 2010 he spent most of the time bemoaning the theft of his camera collection. I have never heard him so upset. He was in a black mood. I was told that he was also complaining about this during his very last dinner. There is no question in my mind that whoever stole Frank's collection hastened him to his final fatal stroke. He was angry and fixated on this during his last days. It put him in a very dark place. Such is the passion Frank had for cameras and photography. A very sad and tragic end. Anyone who ever visited Frank in his studio knew the pride he took in showing off his cameras.]

(C) 2014 DocDave Winiewicz

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Frazetta Archives: A Little Peek

This is a little peek into the Frazetta resource material I draw upon when composing an essay. The academic world would label this as "primary source material". I have always approached Frazetta with a view to preserving as much of his intellectual legacy as possible. I wanted accuracy and clarity, everything grounded in the actual words and thoughts and images of Frank himself. This is just a glimpse. Please do not ask me for further repros. I am saving it all for my book. When? Who knows? I discovered a lot of things I forgot I had while digging around. I have copies of most of the porno work, and I have countless photos from Frank's darkroom, and I have serious discussions with Frank on just about everything from art, to family, to wife, to kids, to friends. A scholar's dream!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Canaveral Pens of Frazetta

During my absence from this site I had an opportunity to look around in my files and storage boxes. I found some things I had completely forgotten about. This includes two pens that Frank used when drawing the famous Canaveral plates in 1963-1964.

The story starts in 1982 during a summer visit. Ellie was shopping and the kids were out of the house (some were still living at home during this time). Frank was looking for a sketchbook where he taught Roy Krenkel how to draw cats. He was frustrated in his efforts. This was before the new large studio was added to the rear of the house and everything was crammed into a very small studio space just off the living room. We went upstairs and Frank literally dove into the hall closet. He came out with several sketchbooks of varying sizes. We brought them downstairs and placed them on the dining room table. I always make a note of what is on the walls every time I visit. The walls were always changing. Today we were surrounded by a couple of Kubla  Khan plates, a Warren oil of the Lady with Scythe, the two page  Cindy is Saved comic book story, a Wally Wood robot illo, several Nina panels, and a large Krenkel cityscape of Old Aquilonia (which Frank received from Roy as a wedding gift). Frank quickly flipped through the books. One book contained two dipping pens/crow quills. Frank looked at them and started to ponder why they were there. He quickly remembered.  He told me that these were two of his favorite pens and that he used them to draw the Canaveral plates. He wanted to preserve them in case a special project came up. He completely forgot about them.  The sketchbook had a few pages containing very loose pencil/umber thumbnail studies for some of the later Canaveral drawings. Frank said that a lot of pens had nibs that fought him as he worked. They were scratchy and had a harsh feel in the hand. These, he said, were like oil being spread on glass.silky smooth. He used brushes as well, of course. But he said that brushes didnt give him as much trouble as long as he bought good quality. Pens were just more finicky, he said. In later years Frank would constantly complain at the deterioration of quality in art materials, especially the paper and ink.

I was in stunned silence at the table. The  Canaverals have always been my all-time favorite Frazetta pieces. They are unmatched and glorious. Each one is a little piece of perfection. I have written about them extensively over the past  twenty five  years. Most people have never seen one in person. The three Frazetta Museums never had one on display. They are rare and highly coveted. It was a joy to discover and see these pens preserved by time and hidden upstairs. A pure serendipitous discovery.

After a few moments, Frank took a sip of coffee and simply tossed them at me. "Take them", he said. "Let me clean them up a bit for you." Not a chance, Frank, I quickly said. I want that ink left on them for posterity. This is real history. The tools of the greatest draftsman who ever lived. It takes ones breath away. I love that these pens have Franks fingerprints preserved in ink on the surface. They have all those wonderful marks of use all over the surface. The nibs are encrusted with dried ink. Just glorious.

(C)2014 DocDave Winiewicz

PS: Of course, careful readers are wondering if Frank found the sketchbook he was looking for. Yes, he did. It contained pages of Frank showing Roy how to draw a cats body, then his head, then his whiskers and ears. Very detailed. Roys efforts were on the adjoining page. The book also contained some quick Krenkel cityscapes. I believe one is included in Frank Juniors book, but it is improperly credited to Frank. It is a Krenkel. Another sketchbook was loaded with pencil studies for the Lord Of The Rings plates. There was a great scene with Smaug the dragon that never made it as a finished plate, just an unused idea. Where is all this stuff now?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Frazetta!

Words simply are not adequate to describe how much I miss Frank. The world is severely diminished by his passing.

However, we can still appreciate and celebrate his art. I have chosen to present two very very minor convention sketches executed in 30 seconds, not more. To capture such distinctive character and life in a few abbreviated strokes is his genius. And, finally, look at an example of his mature signature…fascinating for its lively surface and its precision. It bristles with the life of the pen. We feel it and take joy in it. A gift from the master.

Frazetta still lives because he lives in our imaginations and our hearts!

DocDave Winiewicz

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Frazetta Mystery

In 1966 I was a high school student in Chicago. I was fanatical about comics and anything related to comics. I loved the early fanzines and all that wonderful enthusiasm that dripped from every rexographed  and mimeographed page.  In 1966 Spa Fon 2 appeared, published by a group of fanatical Chicago land collectors. That issue had an interesting essay on Frank Frazetta written by Helmet Mueller and a never before seen piece of art by Frazetta as the cover image. I was in heaven. Helmet also owned an original Ghost Rider cover and would also acquire the watercolor cover to the Secret People a bit later. He was a very passionate nut. I liked him a lot. I asked Helmet where the Spa Fon art came from and he told it was owned by a guy named Bill Zichter who worked as a freelance commercial illustrator. I tried to locate him but could not. Eventually I just gave up. He knew Frazetta back in the early 50's when Frank worked for Magazine Enterprises , M.E. Comics. He moved to Chicago a bit later. Everyone wondered what happened to that original art. This is, I believe, the first time a finished Frazetta illustration appeared as a fanzine cover. Many many bootlegs would follow.

Skip forward almost 50 years! The Spa Fon 2 cover shows up on an eBay auction run by Gary Dolgoff  Comics.  I inquired and found out that the estate was selling off an art collection owned by a deceased artist named Bill Dichtl. My God, I was given the wrong name all those years ago. Just finding out what his name really was provided real satisfaction. Dichtl also had two Johnny Comet Sundays, with one done by Wally Wood. He also had several Durango Kid pages. Everything was fresh to the marketplace and unseen for almost 50 years. Amazing that it survived. The mystery, of course, is why the art was done in the first place and why it ended up in Bill Dichtl's hands?

Here's the second part of the mystery. Dichtl had the original art published in Durango Kid #3, p. 27. It was an early page with dramatic lighting effects.  It sold during the eBay auction. However, and this is where it gets interesting, many months earlier Mike Burkey sold an almost identical page as part of a complete White Indian story. Owners and potential buyers got concerned. Many collectors were drawn into the discussion to voice their opinions: Roger Hill, Pat Kochanek, Duane Capizzi, Wally Harrington, Rob Pistella, among others. I have pictured both pages with this essay for reference. The White Indian page was published in White Indian #13, dated April/June 1954. Since Bill Dichtl owned the original page that means that someone was hired to draw a duplicate page for the much later reprint of that story. Who did it? Many thought it must be Angelo Torres. Angelo was contacted and he had no memory of doing such a page. I think the page was recreated by Frazetta himself. The argument against this is that Frazetta was assumed to be furious with Vince Sullivan, the owner of M.E, for doing a deal behind his back with Columbia pictures for a Thunda serial in 1952. Frank received nothing and didn't know about the deal. The argument is that Frazetta would not do any extra work for Vince because he was furious with him for cutting him out of the deal. However, the page exists. Someone got paid to recreate the page so a reprint of that full story could be published. Look at the cover art on the reprint. I enclosed an image of the cover.  Could that artist have recreated the page? Not even close. No way.

Longtime collector and art historian Roger Hill was able to track down Bill Dichtl and did a few interviews with him. Unfortunately, Bills memory was rather fuzzy and unclear. He didn't remember specific circumstances surrounding the Spa Fon cover art or the other Frazetta originals he owned. After prodding by Roger, he did recall some of the art he had. We will never know how he got them. I searched out a discussion I had with Frazetta about this artist. At the time I asked Frank if he remembered Bill Zichter (remember I had the wrong name for years). Frank had very fuzzy memories of people hanging around the offices and doing various jobs. When I pressed him about the Spa Fon cover image, he mistakenly told me it was probably a Johnny  Comet drawing. In reality, the cover image is a portrait of Thunda. Over the years confusion arose because the inscription looks to be a classic Johnny comet signature from the end of the strip. It's a powerful portrait with tremendous energy and intensity. It is a minor masterpiece and I was very gratified to add it to my collection after so many years of wondering about it. A gem, as Frank would say.

As for that recreated White Indian page... it sure looks like 100% Frazetta to me. It's just too damn good. Great energy and very confident brushwork. I just don't see Torres in that page or anyone else for that matter. Looking at that face in the lower left panel, it just screams Frank to me. And the bottom right panel looks like a little art challenge that Frank set for himself. Again, it's just too good for most other artists. Also, look at the thinned ink throughout that page. Who else utilized that technique? Also, the fact that both bottom panels were reconceived and other smaller changes made all over the page just reflects Franks temperament to me. Never happy, he had to change the weak points. Frank was always searching for a better mode of expression, a more powerful presentation. Isn't this a foreshadowing of what he would do later with his oils and his constant tinkering? This is, in my opinion, the earliest precursor for what would become a Frazetta trademark: Change and the relentless search for higher and higher levels of excellence. So we have a precious gift here...a comic page drawn in 1949 and the same page recreated in 1953... The difference is clear. Frazetta's powers had grown considerably during that period. 

The question remains...why would Frank do it if he was mad at Sullivan? The answer is Frank probably needed the extra cash. Sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct one.

© 2014  DocDave Winiewicz

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Frazetta Roars!

I used to own this little gem of a sketch and stupidly sold it many years ago. What a great image, isn't it? I always thought of Frank whenver I'd see it...Frazetta roaring at the universe, defiantly confronting everything and anything. It might be Tarzan, or a barbarian, or a caveman, but, for me, it's a Frazetta self-portrait. The shadows, the mood, the lines pulsing with life around him all make this drawing resonate and simply explode with the naked power of life. That's what Frank is all about, namely, life. and life lived to the fullest. It turned up at the San Diego Con last summer with a hefty price tag of $15,000.

I 'm going to leave it up here to guard my site while I take a break. I have some living to do...photographic safaris, vacations, and projects of many kinds. I'll be back with more posts after I recharge my inspiration. I still have things to say about Frank and sex and photography. I also have some video, some Lord of the Rings studies unseen, and a few other surprises. The world of Frazetta is vast. I'm trying to open a few new doors and pave some new pathways. I consider this a starting point for future Frazetta fans and scholars to move the stories forward and deepen their content. That is the only way he is going to stay relevant and known and loved. We need to provide his living art with a wide assortment of living voices. My story is a small part of a very grand mosaic. Frank needs to occupy a permanent and important place in art history.

I'll continue to monitor the site for submitted comments.

Thanks again to everyone for adding energy to this site.

(c)2012 Doc Dave Winiewicz

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Frazetta And Flash Gordon

The conventional wisdom about Frazetta and the science-fiction genre is that he had little motivation for the subject matter. Frank explained in several interviews that he had to push himself to get motivated enough to draw or paint in that genre. He much preferred the worlds of ER Burroughs and RE Howard.

There are a couple of exceptions to this. The story goes that early in their friendship he was visiting Al Williamson. Al was showing a 16mm print of an early Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serial to some friends. Al, of course, loved those early Flash Gordon episodes and never tired of viewing the adventures of Flash and Ming the Merciless. In an earlier post I showcased the original art where Frank was showing Williamson how to draw Flash and add zip-a-tone textures

While viewing the movie Frank sat down at Al's drawing board and started drawing a large version of Flash Gordon. He added a big monster and a shot of Dale in the background. Flash had his obligatory signature headpiece on, of course. Everyone thought that headpiece was extremely "cool". Frank brought the original back to his studio and did the final inking. This was in late 1950 or so. Later, Frank offered this piece to Steve Douglas, the art director at Famous Funnies that Al had introduced him to, for possible use as a Buster Crabbe Comics cover. Steve turned it down because he wanted shots of Buster Crabbe on the cover, not Flash Gordon. Frank threw the cover on top of his cabinet and there it stayed until many years later when a friend (Frank said it was Larry Ivie) grabbed a bunch of originals off the cabinet top and partially tore several pieces. Unfortunately, this FLASH cover got torn and is now missing a small portion of the monster's left wing. Frank never repaired it. He just left it. Many years after that Frank sold the original art to rock star Glenn Danzig. Glenn had it for many years before moving it to Hollywood writer and famous SEINFELD writer David Mandel. A number of years after that I was able to pry it from Dave's hands by offering a top quality Wattterson watercolor featuring Calvin and Hobbes. That watercolor originally was intended as a ROLLING STONE cover and it was traded from Watterson to comic historian Rick Marschall. I suspected that Rick traded him a Krazy Kat sunday for it. Luckily, it finally ended up in my hands.

I took the FLASH cover to Frank. He suggested that we simply cover up the torn area with a nice logo/stat. He told me what to do and I did it according to his directions. The cover is a huge 15x24 making it as large as the Weird Science Fantasy #29 cover, the largest of Frank's illustrations.

The other finished Flash Gordon illustration dates from 1976. I asked Frank its origin and he told me that it was just done for fun. I suspect that it was probably earmarked for the last Middle Earth portfolio, Woman Of The Ages, published in 1977. If anyone else has other info on this drawing I would love to hear it. I asked Frank about it several times and his answer was the same each time, namely, he did it for fun. Shortly after completing it, Frank gave it to his son, Billy. Short of cash, Billy reluctantly sold it many years later. It is a magnificent drawing with very energetic brushowork that pulses with life. The princess, of course, is sexy and sultry as only Frazetta can do it. Flash's finger touching her breast is an understated and very sensual touch to an already highly eroticized composition. I asked what the "F" stood for on the cod piece. Frank said it represented "Flash" and "Frazetta". He said that he couldn't just let Flash have all the fun with that girl! He wanted to be in on the action. That's Frank!

Frank ultimately drew precious few images of Flash Gordon. In the very early 50's he drew two pencil images of Buster Crabbe. One was partially watercolored. It was published as the back cover to one of the early WITZEND fanzines. The other was a simple head shot of Buster Crabbe. Both pieces were drawn with photo reference from well known stills from the first two FLASH GORDON serials. Later, he drew a wonderful sketch of Flash Gordon that was traded to Charlie Roberts. That sketch appeared on the cover of the infamous bootleg, Frazetta 300 Drawings, an effort of very poor quality. But, again, collectors and fans didn't care, we just wanted to see more and more Frazetta art.

(c) 2012 Doc Dave Winiewicz