Tuesday, January 17, 2012

100th Post: Frazetta, Memory, And Memoirs


Well, we have reached a little milestone with the 100th posting. I thought that a few comments are in order concerning my approach and philosophy in producing this site.

I think it is very important for people to share their experiences directly in the form of memoirs. This is the way to preserve cultural traditions and important knowledge for future generations. Anything that augments understanding and adds to the appreciation of a significant creative life is important. I have been gathering these stories for years from many sources. Of course, history should never be written by just one person. I do not have absolute knowledge about Frazetta. I never claimed to know everything. I am just sharing what I do know. Frazetta, as everyone knows, often changed his mind and answered questions with different facts. I always gave more weight to what Frank told me before his strokes. His mind was clearer and his answers were more consistent. There is much more I wished I did know, questions I wished I had asked. My knowledge of Frank's early school life and art education is very weak. I am thankful for all the stories published by Russ Cochran, Nick Meglin, Roy Krenkel, Al Williamson, Neal Adams, Arnie Fenner, and others. In particular I would highly reccomend the Frazetta tribute that Arnie Fenner added to the latest SPECTRUM volume (#19). He addresses the issue of Frank's proper consideration and he shines a light into all those dark, closeted issues that need to be brought into the light. Arnie knows, as any right thinking reader knows, a good biography must be honest and look at all aspects of a life, both good and bad. Look at the current biography of Steve Jobs. It contains a blend of all the great things he accomplished, and the darker sides of his life and personality. It provides us with a complete picture without prejudice or propaganda. Other artists' biographies are equally candid in their portrayal of the artist's life. Look at the brutal elements in the life of N.C. Wyeth who allegedly had an affair with his daughter-in-law and fathered his own grandson. Anything less than total candor is a waste of time. A biography needs direct veracity, not pie-in-the-sky fairytales. My earlier web site was hacked into and shut down because I dared to post a trilogy of essays that began to deal with the raw and unvarnished truthful elements surrounding Frank's life, e.g. the truth behind the museums, the truth behind the myth of Ellie Frazetta, etc. Some people did not want to hear it. They preferred to wallow in self-serving constructed myths and carefully contrived phoniness. The internet cowards and haters will always be there. Fine...let them write their own stories. The truths will emerge; it is just a matter of time. When all is known it will only enhance Frazetta's reputation. I am certain of that.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a process that will guarantee him a place in art history's pantheon. I didn't ask for this job, but fate has a way of handing out certain responsibilities. I was placed in a unique position to share life with Frazetta at a very deep level. Our friendship transcended the realm of art and extended into many more dimensions. We incessantly talked about everything and shared experiences and thoughts continuously over the period of 25 years. I am less interested in the plain biographical facts of his life, e.g. the dates, the relatives, the timeline of his career. I leave that for others. I am interested in presenting the essence of the man himself, what makes him tick, what makes him so special and unique. Frank wanted his memory and life shared in an accurate way. He was very afraid that incorrect things would be said. He hated some of the things Ellie was saying at the museum. It bothered him deeply. If enough untruths are repeated over and over, people have a tendency to consider them as the absolute truth. Frank gave me free access to his mind and soul; he was honest with me. Loyalty was always a big thing for Frank. If Frank detected any disloyalty, then that person would be cut out of his life, period, no chance at redemption. Frank was loyal to me and I to him. That is why I am presenting these little essays...to provide a window into the authentic Frazetta and the life he lived. Frank, the man, cannot be understood without understanding the family dynamics, and the complex relationship he had with Ellie. The last 30 years of Frank's life were pivotal to his career. His life became increasingly more complex and difficult. His extreme medical problems transformed him and everyone around him.

These are my direct experiences. There is nothing to disagree with here. If someone else has a different perspective on Frank or Ellie, then by all means, write your story down and let history judge its' truth. I was there. I saw all this family joy and extreme family pain, and recorded it as best as I could. A lot of it is painful to read for many people. However, it is the truth. Great men's lives often embrace great contradictions. Frank was no different. In addition to his staggering artistic successes, his life was also full of contradiction and failure. Often, his neglect of critical family issues planted the seeds for disasters to come. I admired Frank; I loved him as a dear, dear friend; and I felt a profound pity for him. This is simply a record of my thoughts and experiences and reflections. My hope is that others will continue to build on these ideas and facts. The Frazetta story continues to evolve and grow and influence.

I added a recent portrait of myself to this essay. I'm smiling. I smile a lot. I have good reason to smile. I'm sitting on a mountain of golden memories and surrounded by fantastic examples of Frazetta's art. Life is very good, indeed!

A big "thank you" to all the readers of this site who share my passion for Frazetta. I don't know how long I can keep this going, but for now, it is a lot of fun to keep Frank's memory alive in some tangible way.

(c) 2012 DocDave Winiewicz

Posted by docdave at 3:56 PM
2 comments:
Scott Williams said...
These posting are of profound value and importance Dave. Thanks for being there amid the good times and the ruin and the pain and giving us an insight to the life of the Frazetta name.

Scott

February 21, 2011 9:54 AM
docdave said...
Thanks again Scott. I feel a duty and a responsibility to Frank's memory to get these things said. Frank wanted it that way. We all loved the guy so much!

DAVE

February 21, 2011 10:29 AM

19 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Dave, not only on your 100th post, but also for the great job you're doing!

    The Frazetta story IS complex and convoluted and multi-layered and contradictory as you point out—much more than many could imagine. But the only way to fully appreciate what Frank accomplished is to truthfully examine and report and talk about his (and Ellie's) life, warts and all. Thankfully, you're doing precisely that. The "bad" does not wipe out the "good," the positives don't excuse the negatives. Frazetta's importance is a direct result of both his virtues and his failings.

    I was sitting with Frank one night in his studio and he said something—I don't recall what—and I laughed and said, "I've got your number, Frank, I know you." And Frank's mood shifted quickly—for just a moment—and he leaned forwarded, pointing a finger in my face, and growled, "YOU don;t know ME." He was right, really. I assumed I did, based upon what I'd read growing up and on the time we'd spent together...but those were only glimpses. I didn't "know" Frank, not really, not like you did.

    You were—and are—his friend. And we all sincerely appreciate what you're doing with the blog. Thanks, Dave.

    --Arnie

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  2. although it can be a bit difficult, and disappointing, to discover that one's heroes are actually composed of flesh and blood, and, therefore, subject to the same human foibles we all suffer from, i must admit that my discovery of the real frazetta (as seen thru your eyes) has been a most enjoyable roller-coaster ride. and, i must confess, i slavishly check this site every day to see what new frazetta gems you have for us to view and marvel at.

    although, at times, in reading this blog, i am only too painfully reminded that frazetta has left us, such brief moments of sadness are easily outweighed by the chance to walk down the lanes of your memories and share your friendship with frank.

    thank you.

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  3. Thanks Arnie! I deeply appreciate the comment. What a movie this will make someday!!

    DAVE

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  4. Doc Dave,
    As a longtime Frazetta Art fan I have to say I find the accounts that you have presented to be revealing in so many various ways. Personally, critically and even apologetically. This gives more credence to your memoirs than any glad handed fan. I revel in reading these small windows into your relationship with the Frazetta's.

    I find solace to know there is one individual who regardless of apperance has the stones to reveal ALL he witnessed. Keep up the good work. Frank Frazetta the artist does not need another fan-boy site. The man himself needs to be honestly portrayed for those who wish to know what made him tick.

    I never met Frank, I did meet Ellie once. She was a wonderful individual when I met her. If I have one regret it is that I never took the time to go to Marshall's Creek and see the museum. With the slim hope to meet the man himself. That would have been very fulfilling for me.

    Keep doing what you do. It is important for those left behind to share the memories they have. Good or bad it makes us all the more human.

    Steve Baker

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  5. Yes, Roddy, the memory of Frank's passing is still painfully fresh, but this site certainly helps to rediscover so many good memories.

    Thanks.

    DAVE

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  6. Thanks Steve. I'm glad to know that most of my audience is in sympathy with what I'm trying to do here. Frank was an extraordinarily interesting and complex man. His life and art can't be treated in a superficial way. He's too important and influential for that type of consideration.

    DAVE

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  7. Arnie:

    I've been pondering your little story. Very very interesting. I have to give it more thought. I can see Frank saying it and changing his expression when saying it. Frank could change his mood on a dime.

    Fascinating.

    DAVE

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  8. I've been an avid fan of Mr. Frazetta ever since a family friend handed me a copy of 'Fanatastic Art of.. #1' back in 1992, when I was about 14. Since then, I've gone on to collect as much as I have been able to, from the trading cards, the Verotik stuff, the comic reprints, to the bigger things like the Alexander Gallery book and the Limited Ed. of Legacy. I read all of the interviews I could find, in Heavy Metal, Comics Journal, even Wizard magazine. But nowhere competes for pure, honest, unabashed, stripped down information and insights into the Frazetta world more than this blog.
    I'm quite new to this site, but have since gone back and read all of the posts on here, and come away with a more rounded impression of the man, his family and his art.
    You really must draw all of these posts together into a book!

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  9. Thank you, Jay. I appreciate the compliment. Yes, I do want to gather all these thoughts, ideas, and descriptions into some kind of volume. I've never done this to make money. It's always been a labor of love for me. Hopefully, the family will appreciate the importance of all this and give me permission to use the imagery.

    We will see.

    DAVE

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  10. Dave, I wish you'd been friends with Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi. Among others.

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  11. Wonderful blog. Thank you for your comments and shedding a bit of light on Frazetta's life.

    Rory

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  12. I always thought it would have been nice to read a book by Michelangelo's best friend. Understanding the behind-the-scenes "nuts and bolts" of life is supremely fascinating.

    Thanks!

    DAVE

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  13. DocDave take your time post when ever you feel like, Frazetta is arguably one of best natural draftsman ever. Any info you have, will be greatly appreciated not just now, but for years to come from many old and new artist that just begin to discover the amazing art and talent he was.

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  14. Congratulations on your 100th post. And most of all thank you for sharing what you know about Frazetta.

    Frankly I missed that "trilogy" of essays you were referring to. Is there ANY way we can get a chance to read them again?

    I agree a good biography should cover the good sides as well as the not so good sides. It does "humanize" a lot of our heroes whether they be a Michelangelo, a Rockwell or even a Frazetta. In a way it reminds some of us who have big aspirations that our heroes were human and had "obstacles", but it didn't stop them from creating great art.

    Thank you for your generosity sharing.

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  15. Those essays will appear in the expanded book version of this site. I have to hold something back.

    DAVE

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  16. Gil Kane said Frank attended figure drawing sessions with him at the Art Students League in Manhattan (probably in the late '40s/early '50s). Have you ever heard this before?

    Alec

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  17. No, Frank never mentioned that to me. It certainly could be true. Frank attended a lot of life classes over the years.

    DAVE

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  18. Dave, just found this blog. Cant wait to start reading the posts. I wound up here looking for one of the last photos of Frank. I think it was taken in florida just before he passed away. He was sitting in the sand, with his camera, watching the sunset. I thought I saved it but now I can't find it anywhere. You wouldn't happen to have a digital copy, would you?

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  19. I don't have it, sorry. I'm sure a GOOGLE search will turn it up. I know it is on facebook somewhere.

    Good luck!

    DAVE

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