Monday, February 6, 2012

Frazetta: Death Dealer Study

Here is a previously unseen Death Dealer study. Alex Acevedo bought most of the Death Dealer Studies from Frank in 1994, but he missed buying two of them. The other one is entitled "The Snow Queen" and it, also, has never been seen. Hopefully I can post an image of it in the near future.

I love the action of this study. It would have made an incredible finished oil. Unfortunately, the TOR Death Dealer novels came to their end and the money was no longer there, so Frank never finished those last two concepts. Frank did paint another unused concept in his final years depicting Death Dealer and a swarm of greenish vampiric witches/demons. He did it all left-handed. It was showcased in the museum for a very short while. The family still has it but it's never been seen and, alas, I don't have an image of the final oil.

DocDave Winiewicz

26 comments:

  1. An exceptional study - and one that illustrates Franks skill and "taste" in capturing the power and mystery from massing and connecting shadows .

    It amazes me that 99.999 percent of artists in the fantasy/fantastic realm never learned or tried to employ this quality , and instead use multi colored bounce light to fill in every shadow ala Boris , killing whatever potential mood their work might have had .

    Al McLuckie

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  2. So true, Al, and well said!

    DAVE

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  3. I LOVE this! I wonder who has it now? Thanks, Dave!

    Best--Arnie

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  4. I feel the same way, Al. Why is the mystery of shadow such a mystery to so many artists? Your example of Vallejo is spot on, as he represents to me the antithesis of Frazetta. Frank seems to have worked from the darkness of the mind, starting with shadow and pulling his figures and worlds from it, just enough to leave an impression on the mind of the viewer and without being too explicit.

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  5. I have never understood how people can place Frazetta and Vallejo in the same
    aesthetic realm. Their approaches were so completely different.

    DAVE

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  6. I think many people are unable to tell brass from gold or corn in the mud from pearls . Like a kid raised on sugar and processed food, whose pallet has been ruined , and wouldn't appreciate well prepared organic healthy food , Boris Frazetta or Bisley are all the same . Years ago I sat a friend down who equated Boris with Frazetta and laid out examples of their work side by side . "Ok , see this woman on a tree with the cats that Boris did --- now look at F.F.'s Catgirl - see? look at the faces back and forth . Now here are 2 versions of a barbarian facing a demon . Look at the face of the Boris Bodybuilder Barbarian - his expression is as if he were instructed to glare at "something" with a mindless scowl -- look at the face F.F. painted with the fires of hell radiating from his eyes - SEE!!!???"

    It took about a half hour but he finally got it , and it was a true revelation to him .

    In general the direction of cultural aesthetics , whether in movies or fantastic art , seem to be governed by the misguided concept of "more is better" as opposed to Better is Better , and "more" has little to do with better .

    Al McLuckie

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  7. My thoughts are that both artists render the human form well, only one is a painter. The other is an illustrator. Frank used chiaroscuro as well as Titian and Rembrandt. He forces the eye to look, Boris just gives up a snapshot. Frazetta pulls you into the painting capturing the exact moment of action he want the viewer to see. He leaves room for interpretation instead of just story telling. The only other fantastic artist who did what Frazetta did was Jeff (Catherine) Jones. Painting is VERY different from illustration.

    Boris is a talented artist no question , but really I feel his work is static not dynamic. Frazetta's work is dynamic even when he is just goofing around. The energy is there.

    Steve Baker

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    1. Frazetta and Jones are both in the Brandywine tradition of illustration. And the best Brandywine illustrators are PAINTERS (Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, William J. Aylward, Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell, Walter Everett, Harold Von Schmidt, Saul Tepper, Mead Schaeffer, Walt Louderback, etc.). We have the notes of Pyle and Harvey Dunn teaching about simplifying and massing shadows. All the guys at EC back in the day were into the brandywine illustrators.

      Boris is more out of the Frank Reilly method of painting, which was a method for painting which, regardless of your imaginative abilities, could result in a professionally painted image. This is not to say that Boris studied with Reilly of course.

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    2. With all due respect, I would disagree that boris' lackluster painting comes from using"the Reilly method". To be honest, I'm not even sure if he does, in fact, use that method of painting.

      Frank Reilly taught many famous illustrators, most notable James Bama of Doc Savage paperback covers fame, and his teachings were close to the academic traditions of the painting that Frazetta was exposed as a youth. Further, Reilly's illustrations are far more lively than boris' best painting.

      Lets not forget that a lot of really bad painters came out of most paintings traditions and methods because it's the artist, not the method that makes the painting. I'll wager that Frazetta would have still created a masterpiece if all he had to paint with were mud and a popsicle stick.

      no, as with all other boring painters, boris' paintings are dull because he's a dull painter, not because he uses a specific method of painting...

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  8. The "life" that Frank infuses in his work is, indeed, a gift from the gods!

    Excellents comments from everyone and so correct.

    DAVE

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  9. I think there are many differences between Frazetta and Boris, starting with the core reason for placing a pencil, a pen, or a brush on to a surface. Both seem to have had very differenct reasons for doing this.
    Many will say that Boris' work shows a more detailed reality than Frazetta, but I think that is incorrect. Frazetta is well known for blurring and loosely roughing in areas, with the precise focus being left for the most important parts. This, essentially, is how the human eye sees things. Take the original DD painting as an example, there are some huge strokes in the foreground and even on the horse, but DD himself is crystal clear. It's a masterful effect. It pulls you into the detail in a way that Boris' work simply cannot.
    I just got my hands on the first DD novel (who knows what happened to my original copy...), I'm looking forwrd to entering that world again.

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  10. This would have made a magnificent cover illustration. I was very unhappy about the falling out between Frank and Jim Silke over a piece of artwork that Ellie alleged Jim stole from the Frazetta's when Frank was having his health issues. Frank and Jim put together some of the best sword and sorcery books to hit the stands in decades with the Death Dealer series. The details are a bit hazy regarding the falling out but Jim is a class act and I find it hard to believe he took advantage of his collaborator and partner by acquiring a piece of art under dubious circumstances. Jim's solid prose -filtered through Frank's imagination- is the first and only time that prose captured the essence of Frank's art. When the books stopped being released I was very disappointed. Having read the weak story and banal art that was the Death Dealer comics released through Image comics a few years ago (as well as the visceral but overtly dark Verotik comic back in the 90's) just made me yearn all the for more of the magic woven by Jim and Frank.

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    1. Great piece, Doc! Dynamic composition and design: Frazetta had the goods in that department, too! I once read a quote where he said the fun of creating a painting was in that initial process of composing and designing the image, and found the act of finishing the piece (details etc), which he did with so much sensitivity and restraint, laborious! Ha! Could have fooled me!

      Just to add to the Frazetta/Boris comparison which, I think, only exists because they both worked within the same genre: With Frazetta I always feel that I can tell what his characters ate that day & how they small (sometimes nice, sometimes not so nice). Frazetta could convey particles in the air without actually painting it (I swear there is subtle particles of dust floating around in the Egyptian Queen!). The energy of the world he depicts covers every square inch of canvas or paper, pressing up against the four sides that contain it! You just can't teach that stuff!

      Boris, although he has good design skills and is highly accomplished technically, presents characters that are posing in a staged environment. Also, I get the sense that Boris, unlike Frazetta, really gets off on doing the "finish" work on a painting. To him, the piece is not really complete until that last sheen is on the surface! With Frazetta's work, as exemplified by your most excellent DD prelim post, the piece is already alive and bursting with energy in the concept stage!

      Frazetta works from the inside out: It's guttural, sensitive and poetically finished. Boris works from the stand point of an observer: His emotions are not involved, he just wants to make a 'beautiful' piece. And, for me, THAT'S the problem! There is not an unaesthetic, pre-conceived touch in his painting! In contrast, sometimes when I look at a Frazetta I think he is wipping his brush on the canvas!- The ground of the first Death Dealer painting comes to mind. There is a healthy degree of irreverence, in Frazetta's technical approach, which does not suffocate his spirit!

      Bahh! You see what this blog does to me?! I got a bathroom to demo! See ya &...thank you!!

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  11. Great comments, Jayr! You are so right in all your observations. I could not agree more.

    And you're right about Frank whipping the canvas. I've see him stand up and make painterly slashes across the surface. Violent and controlled. The transfer of LIFE!!!

    DAVE

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  12. One thing I'd like to point out in this FF / Boris discussion is their respective backgrounds. We need to keep in mind that Frank came from comics and Boris came from illustration.

    One small example: if you look at this DD rough in particular, you can see the crazy amount of motion... the frog guy is literally flying head over heels backwards, like you'd see in comic book (or even a Chuck Jones cartoon!). Whereas Boris is more about bringing reality and texture and surface into imaginary worlds. For example, no one can deny that Boris' flesh tones are masterful. Period. And believe me, that's not a simple task either.

    Any artist worth their salt can recognize the exceptional talents of both these guys... they just bring different asthetics to the table.

    Dave, one question: I know I've at least seen this DD POSE before, if not this actual rough. When you say this is "unseen", are you saying this was unpublished? If so, then I'm guessing I've seen either a different sketch/doodle, or possibly on Ebay or something...?

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  13. Yes, this was unpublished and previously unseen. The rough you're thinking of is probably the rough for the Conan of Aquilonia oil. It has a slightly similar motif.

    Thanks for the Boris comments. They are apples and oranges, for sure.

    Best!

    DAVE

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  14. Hi Dave,

    For what it's worth, I ran across the rough I was thinking of: It is this same piece, but before Frank added color.. in the Ballentine Book 5 with all the other photos of DD roughs.

    Glad I found it.. it was driving me nuts!

    take care!
    Daren

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  15. Excellent sleuthing Daren! I haven't looked at Book 5 in a long time. I did not realize it was there.

    Thanks!

    DAVE

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  16. Hey, I know that painting you describe (DD with the green creatures)..I saw a random guy on FB who'd apparently visited Frank and that painting is right next to him. I save that photo, I have it somewhere, if you want me to send it to you, let me know. I can find the guy who posted the pic too, he told me he's got a story from that day.
    Alex
    alex@alexmcvey.com

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  17. Thanks Alex. Someone sent me that photo earlier. Interesting left-handed piece.

    All the best,

    Dave

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  18. He just told me the most awesome story about the day he went up there (I made him tell me today, lol). He went up there with his wife, and showed up the day after Ellie died. I'm gonna find it and come back. Please write a book, Dave.

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  19. I think I just lost everything I'd typed, and that's a darn shame.
    Here's the story my friend told me.
    "It was in 2009, I had a nostalgic thought of when I was younger and into fantasy art. I had not been "into" it for probably 20 years. Maybe I was going through a mid life crisis or something. I had looked up Frazettas website after going through some old FF art books I had since the 80s. Before you know it my fiancé and I were on a plane making a pilgrimage to the poconos. After the fly into Allentown, the next morning, we ate breakfast and I checked the website one more time to be sure it was open... Unfortunately the site was down.. We drove our rental our to the museum and there was a note on the door that his wife had passed away the day before. Taken aback, we just stood there for a minutes when another couple with their mother had drove up from California. We talked for a few minutes about everything when out of nowhere Frazetta was standing on the porch of his house. He asked us all where we were from and asked us to wait a minute. He went inside then came back out a few minutes later. He said the museum was closed but he wanted us to see his studio at least. Apparently he was not allowed to have the museum keys, at least that's our thoughts. We all talked and Frank showed us what art he had laying around and hung up. He must of liked Sinefeld because he had a collection of the series. He also had big jars of candy. The pallet that I assume he painted from was stacked with 60 years of dried paint. Not sure how anyone could have used that for mixing. One of the unfinished paintings I held. It was on Masonite board, of a lady dancing. After 20 minutes or so he got a call from his son Frank Jr, I assume. You could hear him loudly through the phone that one of his sisters was drawing money out of an account. We pretended not to hear it. Jr. showed up and Frank asked him to find the keys to the museum. By this time another couple had drove up from NY. Jr, looking for the keys went on for several minutes but he couldn't find them either. The couple from NY wanted pictures so we all took pics. I had my DSLR and Frank pulled out his camera collection, even took a picture of Tracee. He joked about some of my artwork I had showed him on my phone. I had a lot of blonds in those works and Tracee's a brunette. Jr finally found a set that opened the chains for the iron gate but couldn't get inside the main door. The museum keys were never found. We never got to see his works... We helped him lock up the iron gate and shook hands. He didn't seam melancholy over his wife dying the day before. None of us brought it up in conversation. Tracee being the RN thought he had some mild dementia signs. In hindsight we thought that he wanted company. Some people to talk too. The whole experience was surreal. We never had the chance to see the museum again. Reading back, online, of the history of the museum it was once located in Boca Grande just a couple of hours away and I never knew about it! One day I hope to see a large collection of his work before its scattered across the globe. If that day comes I'll be a happy camper."

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  20. You got any plans in the works, Dave? Write a book! Please!!

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  21. Yes, it will happen. Several publishers have contacted me.

    Dave

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  22. I'm SO glad to hear that, Dave. I will purchase that the very day it goes up for pre-order (if it has a pre-order period, heh).
    As a side note - and I may be completely nuts...why is it that all those Dracula studies Frank did (for the film, I think), look so much like his father to me. A lot of Frank's characters looked kind of Frank-ish to me, but those older gentleman Dracula studies remind me a lot of his dad. You think there's something to that, or is it just me? :)

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  23. I think we can all agree that Frank was "touched by the Gods" and God created Boris (and the like) so we could compare and contrast and appreciate him all the more!!

    :)

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