Friday, September 23, 2011

Frazetta And Conan The Destroyer

One of the constant discussions I would have with Frank concerned the subject of his repainting canvases instead of starting a new oil. Frank would say that if he was dissatisfied with an image, then why not replace it with an image which most clearly reflects his intention. Indeed, it is tough to argue with that. He is the artist and the creator of the image. The fact is that some of repaints worked and some did not. I loved the original versions of Conan The Buccaneer and I was very distressed when Frank changed the basic concept. I have grown to really like the current version and I realize why Frank wanted the changes. First of all, it was too derivative of the scene of Tarzan battling the natives in the Canaveral plate. Also, Frank said that he wanted to give Conan a fighting chance in battle. An axe is more firepower than bare hands, especially when all the other warriors are heavily armed. A little known fact is that the original idea for Conan the Buccaneer was for a wraparound paperback cover. The idea of Conan as a buccaneer steered Frank to consider ideas with a nautical theme. Frank drew several watercolors depicting Conan battling a sea monster in a roaring sea. It was ultimately decided that there would not be a wraparound and Conan’s face would have to be shown. The savage sea ideas had Conan looking into the sea and storm and away from the viewer. We discovered these studies in a notebook hidden in the back of an upstairs closet. Frank had completely forgotten about them.

Frank then started work on the “pile of bodies” idea. That oil went through a number of different versions. Frank was constantly fiddling with the style of Conan’s helmet and his ornamentation. Photos exist of all these stages.

This final sketch sheet depicts the decision Frank made in changing the overall thrust of Conan's character in the design. This made the transition complete from Conan the Buccaneer to CONAN THE DESTROYER! The wash drawings are gorgeous little studies. It shows that Frank had a pretty clear conception of the visual direction he wanted to achieve. He talks about these studies in a section of the Frazetta documentary PAINTING WITH FIRE. The studies were previously published in the Howard volume THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH as well.

The other image depicts an idea for a bed headboard that Frank was thinking about. The reverse of the sheet contains more very explicit studies for this erotic headboard.
Instead of mounting this large dildo-type apparatus on the bed, Frank decided to carve penis and vagina designs into the bed. Interesting that Frank’s mind would immediately turn to sexual themes after drawing those Conan studies. Obviously, Robert E Howard was able to get Frank’s blood boiling a bit!

DocDave Winiewicz ©2010


tonyartist said...

Dave--More wonderful "gems". I am always intrigued by the evolution of Frank's work: from its initial inspiration to final form. These prelims privide indispensible glimpses into Fritz's creative process, and anything Conan-related, especially so. Thanks, again! Tony A.

kev ferrara said...

Funny, I always thought one of the "lies" Frank complained about in the newsweek article in the 1970s (or was it esquire?) was the idea that he had carved naughty bits into his bedposts.

Guess the protests were all about protecting the image, eh? Silly.

Jim S. said...

I really like the final copy much better the original, though I would rather Frank have painted a new copy, rather than painting over the old. How many paintings were later "enhanced"? I am not sure how I feel about the Death Dealer changes.

Jim S. said...

I really like the final copy much better the original, though I would rather Frank have painted a new copy, rather than painting over the old. How many paintings were later "enhanced"? I am not sure how I feel about the Death Dealer changes.

Frazetta: FAMOUS FUNNIES #211

Oddly, one of Frazetta’s major FAMOUS FUNNIES covers has never been published in all its tonal glory. Russ Cochran published a colored portfolio of all the covers, but these were straight line shot copies with added color. The LIVING LEGEND volume contains several FAMOUS FUNNIES covers displaying the ink tonalities, but FAMOUS FUNNIES #211 was not included. A decent transparency of this original has never been shot since its original publication in the mid-1950’s.
In a recent deal I was fortunate to come across the original copy/stat/velox of this cover that was owned by Stephen Douglas. Stephen Douglas was the art editor at FAMOUS FUNNIES. Al Williamson was the person who first introduced Frazetta to Stephen Douglas back in the early 50’s. That introduction led to some nice jobs for Frank at a time when the money was much needed.
This copy is interesting because not only does it reveal the ink in a state of brand new freshness, but it still has some of the original underlying pencils before they were subsequently erased. In this copy the pencil adds another dimension to the original. The image, of course, is sensational, and the original cover sold for a record price. Back in 1995, Alex Acevedo of the ALEXANDER GALLERY in NYC offered Frank the ACE paperback oil of TARZAN AND THE JEWELS OF OPAR in trade for this FAMOUS FUNNIES cover. Frank asked me what I thought about the offer. I told him it was a fair offer but that there was magic in all that crosshatching. I told him I would never do that deal. Frank turned the deal down. It was a good decision.
Dr. Dave Winiewicz ©2008

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Williamson/Frazetta Space Opera

I recall buying a copy SPA FON #5 in the late 60’s. It was published by a few fans in the Chicago area. They loved comic books, comic art, and they really loved Frank Frazetta. They even had a nice watercolor printed in full color on the cover by Frazetta. Nice classy touch, especially in those days. I have added a shot of the art from that cover. I recall that the original art was purchased by Helmut Mueller at a con art auction for $65.
They included a small Frazetta index in that magical issue. The index was annotated with comments. I recall that they commented on the Williamson/Frazetta story in DANGER IS MY BUSINESS #1: “There is some special magic in this story”. The story was “Capt. Comet and the Vicious Space Pirates”. What a title! After a couple of years of searching I found the book. In those days finding a comic was not easy. One had to scour the classifieds in various fanzines or spend hours looking through boxes at local comic cons. Ebay has eliminated the charm of that type of hunt. When a comic was found in the old days, it was a moment for rejoicing and celebration. It was treasured and revered as a quasi-sacred object. Well, that story was a revelation and a sheer joy to behold. Here were the two greatest science fiction artists (with apologies to Wally Wood) working together on a space opera inspired by Flash Gordon and the great Buster Crabbe serials. This was “the good stuff”; it just did not get any better.
Al Williamson penciled the pages and laid them out. Frank came in and poured his magical ink over every square inch. This WAS something special. I always yearned for the original art to this story. I knew it would be spectacular. In the early 1970’s the complete story emerged from the Toby Art find. It was immediately purchased by Bruce Hamilton. Bruce, in turn, sold the pages to Tony Dispoto (who, along with Russ Cochran, were the two people who really gave structure and credibility to art selling in fandom). Dispoto issued a selling list in 1974 listing 3 pages from this story, priced at $1000 each, a hefty price in those days for interior pages. I wanted the splash. I contacted Tony. It was already sold! I was heartsick. Tony had just sold it to longtime collector Marty Greim. Marty kept it for many years. I was forced to buy another page. Actually, I bought two. I used my graduate school fellowship checks and sent them directly to Dispoto. I spent the next months living on rice and turkey pot pies. It was worth it. What is food compared to great art, eh?
There is a happy ending to the story. Marty Greim sold the splash to collector Dennis Beaulieu. Finally, I was able to acquire this great monument from Dennis. It has had a place of honor on my wall for many years. The page is a tremendous blend of Al and Frank’s talents. The prototypical Williamson “punch” scene counterpointed by the soft interior shot showcasing a standing and clearly heroic Capt. Comet. The Alex Raymond Flash Gordon headgear is the perfect homage. (Frank even drew a shot of Buster Crabbe in the last page of the story.) Frazetta added the signatures and Frank drew Al’s signature as well.
Space opera at its finest, the grand battle between good and evil…that’s what the golden days of childhood are all about.

Dr. Dave Winiewicz ©2008

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Frazetta On Frazetta

Frazetta and I had a discussion back in 1996 about the nature of his art. He was unhappy that people kept calling him a fantasy artist and science fiction artist and, even worse, a cult artist. Frank said: “I do everything…cowboy art, nudes, fantasy…I’m a creative artist. That’s what I consider myself.” I told Frank that he should write down that statement so that there would be a document in his own hand describing how he should be characterized as an artist. He ripped a sheet out of his sketchbook, wrote the statement, and handed it to me. “There! Are you happy now?” I was ecstatic. I knew the importance of that little bit of writing. When the documentary crew saw that statement they immediately asked if they could use it for the opening sequence. Absolutely! That was the perfect place for it. Originally, the actual image of the text was to be used. Unfortunately, a focus group said that changing the font would make it more effective. Keep the words and change the look. I thought the authenticity of Frank’s own handwriting would be more affecting and powerful. I was outvoted.

ONE FURTHER POINT: Several years ago I was talking to Frank and he was a little despondent. A bus full of art students had just left the museum. Frank generously went out to talk to them and answer a few questions. Frank said: “Dave, they wouldn’t believe me. They just wouldn’t believe that I make this stuff up. What can I do? Do I have to sit down and paint a picture right in front of them before they’ll believe me? I told them to ask you; you’ve seen me do it many times. I told them to go to Williamson. He used to come into my studio and look over my shoulder: “Made-up, Frank?” He’d always ask me that. He was constantly amazed that I kept making things up. “
The problem is that what Frank does is SO unique, that it is almost unbelievable. Yes, Frank did borrow images/poses from Foster in his early years. Yes, he did use swipes in about a dozen drawings and oils. Yes, he did glance in the mirror to grab a facial expression. Yes, he did use photo reference in his movie poster work. In those jobs everything had to be perfectly “on model” so the studios would send portrait photos of all the main stars. I knew EVERY instance where Frank borrowed an image or pose. They can be traced to Wyeth, to Pyle, to Burian, to Booth, to Foster, and a couple others. ALL THE ABOVE constitutes about 5% of Frank’s output-----THAT’S IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything else is straight from the soul, right out of his creative imagination. I have seen him draw, watercolor, and paint many images right from scratch. Nothing there…no models…no photos...nothing, just that gargantuan treasure trove of memory and magic that defines Frazetta as the creative force he is. If you don’t believe, fine, that is your prerogative. But you will be turning your back on the truth and turning your back on that one special quality that is responsible for the vivid sense of life that explodes from every image. Frazetta has a special gift that simply does not exist in most artists. I am not diminishing other artists because they use reference or rely on models. That is their method and it often leads to exceptional work. Look at the industry in the work of Rockwell. Countless photos, countless studies, an immense amount of research into every nuance of a painting produced results that speak for themselves. But that is not Frazetta’s path. His approach is intuitive, quick, a creative intuition into the essence of a scene, and a quick creation on paper or easel. Frazetta should be revered for the great American treasure that he is. Why he is not the most famous artist in the western world is beyond me. But, that is a very serious subject for another essay at another time.

Dr. Dave Winiewicz ©2008

Frazetta And Hal Foster

Visiting Frazetta is always an interesting and rewarding experience. The meticulously clean house has a magical atmosphere about it. You’re surrounded by original art, African artifacts, and all sorts of exotic furnishings. After a little lively banter I descend through the family room into Frank’s studio. Frank is usually painting, or fiddling with a camera as I enter. He greets me with a big, welcoming smile and a vigorous handshake. “Dave, are you ready for some coffee?” This is the almost ritualized pattern that starts a visit. Frank is a coffee connoisseur and easily downs a dozen cups during a typical visit. Then we sit down and Frank asks me what is new, what is everyone talking about? And so begins another wide-ranging discussion in which many points are considered. I have spent hundreds of hours with Frazetta talking about everything from Plato’s view of art to the coating on camera lenses.
On one particular visit I mentioned to Frank that several comments were going around that concerned the relation between Frazetta and Hal Foster (of Tarzan and Prince Valiant fame). It was suggested, rather boldly, that Frazetta swiped routinely from Foster and that, ultimately, Frazetta was just a Foster imitator. Frank looked at me as if I had just brought a dead rat into the studio. These were unenlightened comments to be sure and I told Frank that this kind of thinking bordered on lunacy. Frank’s response was direct and immediate. He jumped out of his chair and passionately roared: “Look at the walls! There! [Pointing to the DEATH DEALER] There! [Pointing to the GOLDEN GIRL] There! [Pointing to CONAN THE WARRIOR] Where do you see Foster? Show me just a part. Show me where you see Foster. HE IS NOT THERE! Period.” Frank’s response was perfect and final. However, this leads to a few thoughts on Frank’s early influences. Some people say that Frank is such an original that he shows no influences. That is, of course, absurd. Everyone is the result of some prior influence. These conflicting ideas need a little clarification and comment.

Like everyone else, Frazetta’s childhood was filled with direct and powerful influences of every sort. What one sees and experiences in their childhood is so important in the growth process. No one escapes their childhood. Frazetta roamed, ran, jumped, and stalked all sorts of real and imagined creatures in his tough and violent Brooklyn neighborhood. His costume was a simple sweatshirt adorned with a picture of a black panther. He identified with the big cats, with their stealth, smoothness, and quick transition to violent action. After a full day of furious activity, Frazetta would return home and immediately begin to draw. It was almost as if the world’s energy had entered his soul and lit up his imagination. That special magical energy would now appear on the page before him. Frazetta told me that often he would pray for a rainy day so he could just sit and draw without the enticement of the play world calling him. Frazetta is unique. There has never been a more physical artist; raised without the dominance of television, video games, and other imagination-killing devices. His was a world of comic books, newspaper strips, pulps, and his own incredible fantasies.
In published interviews and in countless private discussions, Frazetta has meticulously admitted and explained these early influences. Frank looked at the early Tarzan novels before he could even read; he loved the pictures by St. John. He also marveled at the newspaper strip art of Hal Foster. When he got the TARZAN SINGLE SERIES#20 comic book, he said it was like the Encyclopedia Britannica. The young Frazetta absorbed everything and was affected by everything. He loved the early Walt Disney cartoons, especially FANTASIA and SNOW WHITE. He loved early toys and their exquisite colorings. There was a time when Milton Caniff was Frazetta’s main influence. Frank has several early sketchbooks filled with thick-lined drawings heavily influenced by Caniff. Frank also thoroughly enjoyed the cartoons of Carl Anderson’s HENRY; he was impressed by their complete simplicity and economy of line. POPEYE by Segar was another top favorite; Frank loved the manic energy and loony characters. And, of course, he loved the panel-bursting art of Jack Kirby that was everywhere. If you know where to look, one can clearly see all these influences mysteriously mixed and transformed in the art of Frazetta.
Frazetta’s highest praise has always been reserved for Hal Foster. In particular, Frank absolutely loved the early Foster Tarzan strips from 1932-1935. For forty years, Frazetta had an original Foster TARZAN hanging in his living room. The page is dated 1-21-34 (“The Captive King”) and it is a rare jewel resplendent with jungle, apes, and furious action. This is where Foster was at a creative peak, bursting with originality, creativity, and nonstop vitality. Frank describes Foster’s Tarzan as “perfection”, a landmark in American twentieth-century art that will never be surpassed. Frazetta was not as impressed with the later Prince Valiant pages where Foster became very “stagey” and reserved. The art was tremendous illustration but it never went beyond mere draftsman’s facility into fine art. However, those early Tarzans had a constant explosive dynamism and fluidity that appealed to Frank greatly. The backgrounds provided a real atmosphere. There was genuine passion in those early efforts and Frazetta responded to that. Many people think that Frazetta’s comic work on WHITE INDIAN and THUNDA was strongly influenced by Foster. This is true to a limited extent. He did borrow a few images, but he always greatly improved them in the process. Frazetta never copies; he sees or remembers a visual idea and polishes it to a higher standard of perfection. Frank did not want to copy or imitate Foster; this would be an artistic dead end and completely antithetical to Frank’s artistic personality. Pointing to six or seven borrowed images from a total output of thousands of drawings is a pretty desperate and futile strategy. Frazetta wanted his own voice, his own style, his own approach. Frank wanted to make his own mark in the field. The real influence of Foster on Frazetta was one of artistic philosophy or aesthetic direction. Foster’s world was something that could be BELIEVED; it had a solid sense of reality at its core. The viewer could actually live in that world and experience vicarious thrills as Tarzan swung through the trees, discovered lost cities, and battled savage apes and ferocious animals. That was precisely the direction that Frazetta wanted to pursue in his art. St. John was too romantic, too dreamy, not hard-edged. You just could not get hurt in St. John’s world. With Foster, real death and animal attacks were right around the corner; you had to watch where you stepped.
Ultimately, Frazetta thoroughly eclipsed and transcended the work of Foster. Frazetta carried the art of drawing and painting to heights that Foster would never have dreamed possible. Frazetta produced totally original works of absolute genius time after time. Legions of artists began to imitate him. Frazetta’s world is one of supercharged reality, a world stripped of all its false facades and charades. Frazetta’s world is one of raw, elemental passions and volcanic incident. It is also a world of beauty, sublime and dangerous beauty. Frazetta continued to get better and better, more sophisticated, thoroughly creative and distinctive. Everything comes together in the magical series of drawings he did for the Canaveral Press in the early 1960’s. Nothing in art history compares to them. At the same time he explodes on the scene with paintings that would revolutionize the paperback industry. All this is subject for another essay. We leave it at that. A young boy grows up and becomes a world-shaking presence in the art world; one of the most studied and mimicked artists who ever lived. Frazetta’s pen and brush lit up the world with joy and nobility and beauty. The world owes him a debt of gratitude.

Dr. David Winiewicz
(c) 2001

Frazetta In San Diego 1995

(The following essay appeared in the Fenner/Underwood art volume TESTAMENT back in 2000. Arnie Fenner asked me to contribute a short piece on Frank's appearance at the San Diego Comic Con. At some point in the future I plan to expand the essay. So much happened.)

I have been a close friend of Frank Frazetta for over 20 years. Periodic visits and weekly phone calls have provided me with a wealth of fascinating conversations and interesting experiences. One of the most interesting was the 1995 SanDiego Comic Convention which Frank decided to attend along with his wife, Ellie. At the time, Frank was recovering from exploratory chest surgery. Luckily, it was a cancer scare that turned out to be nothing at all. Most people would take it easy for several weeks. Frazetta’s answer was to attend the biggest comic con in the world. It was the first major con that Frazetta attended in over 20 years, and it was unannounced. Frank and Ellie arrived as private attendees in order to avoid the “official” pressures of panels and autograph sessions.

The rumors of Frazetta’s presence sent shockwaves throughout the immense hall. So much for Frank’s thoughts about a quiet, leisurely stroll through the aisles! Frank was immediately accorded the status of visiting superstar celebrity. Everyone wanted to see him, be near him. His presence was electric. Curious reactions appeared. People would walk-up to Frank and start to tremble and shake; one young girl started to cry in such an extreme fashion that she almost collapsed. Many people simply wanted to shake Frank’s hand and say “thank you”. Most people did not realize how deeply Frazetta had affected their lives, how intimately they had been touched by the magic power of his art. The brutal shock of seeing Frank in person unleashed torrents of honest emotion. Frank was quite moved by all the adulation, awe, and respect.

Even the professionals got excited: Dave Stevens ran to the hallway to call his parents and let them know that he’d met Frank. Mike Kaluta made sure he showed Frank his latest watercolors. Bill Stout made sure his son met Frank and got his autograph. The Hildebrandt Brothers bowed upon meeting Frank. Other artists and pros flocked around Frank: Joe Jusko (who bought a great pencil of a cat from Ellie), Julie Bell (who spoke extensively with Frank in Dave Stevens’ booth), Danzig (who got Frank to do a spirited autograph signing at his Verotik booths), Simon Bisley (who attended a high-energy dinner with Frank and Ellie; they were fascinated by Simon’s distinctive humor and character), Clayburn Moore, Chris Achilleos (who said “such life, such life; he is the maestro”.), Mark Schultz, Sergio Aragones, and many more. Upon seeing and meeting Frazetta for the first time, Boris Vallejo said: “You are the ultimate master; there will never be another greater than you.” Kind and gracious words, indeed- a real touch of class on the part of Boris.

Frank bypassed an offer to dine “on the house” by the owners of the local PLANET HOLLYWOOD restaurant in order to spend time with more fans. Members of the creative team from JURASSIC PARK showed Frank their sketchbooks in his hotel room. Frank was constantly bombarded with sketchbooks and autograph requests. These reflections literally scratch the surface of an intense 4-day period.

One more story: Frank, Ellie, and I went to the world-famous SanDiego Zoo early one morning. It was a cold, dreary, and misty day. In almost mystical fashion, the animals awoke from their morning slumber as Frazetta walked by. The big cats roared; the monkeys screamed. The Kings of the jungle paying tribute to one of their own? The memory is vivid, unsettling, and strange. Frazetta is a most unusual man, a force of nature, a genuine living American treasure.

Dr. Dave Winiewicz (c)2000

Frazetta Memories

I have been on vacation for the past 3 weeks celebrating my 60th birthday and our 24th wedding anniversary. I returned and learned the news of Frank's final stroke. I was devastated. I began to cry. I got up and started to walk. Frank had died on my 60th birthday. Losing a dear friend is a profound wound to the soul. It requires time and thought for the healing process to prevail or have any impact at all. It will take me a long time to deal with this void in my life. Thousands of memories wash over me. What a complete honor to have known Frank and to have spent so much time with him. Everyone knows about his art achievements over the years. What is even more important is that he was a good man. He was the best father I have ever known. His loyalty defined him. He was a man of deep virtues and strong character. I used the quote from the great Russian writer, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn in my previous post: "When a man dies, a world dies." This is so appropriate for a man like Frank who had vast interests and deeper desires than most men.

I wanted to share some of my personal memories here. I am adding an assortment of photos from a friendship book I put together back in 2003 just before moving out west. Frank was extremely unhappy that I was moving away, but I just couldn't deal with the brutal, body-numbing and soul-destroying winters of Buffalo New York anymore. He understood. I gave him a book that highlighted some of the moments in our friendship.

Here are some other recollections:

My first exposure to Frank was in 1955 while looking at my uncle's comic books. There was an issue of WHITE INDIAN and a FAMOUS FUNNIES cover issue. I never forgot that signature with the distinctive flourishes.

I met Frank at a NY con in 1967 and bought a $25 JOHNNY COMET. I still have it.

Every penny I ever made went to buying art from Russ Cochran or Tony Dispoto. Eventually, I only bought Frazetta. It was a sheer delight going to the big NY cons and hear Russ talk about his trips to see Frank and pick up originals.

I attended the 1977 Frazetta Show. I walked through the door and stopped dead. Seeing all those originals overwhelmed me. It brought a tear to my eye...literally. I knew I was in the presence of something very great. I was perplexed by the power and bewitching strength of this art. I decided then and there that I had to make a conscious effort to really understand this art. I started to think deeply and kept thinking.

I wrote an essay on Frank's art in the late 1970's and sent it to him. He called me back and said that was the best thing he's ever read about his art. He invited me to come down. I did....and the rest is history.

I am making a serious effort to banish the sadness and just celebrate the man's life.

Frazetta lives!


rjpistella said...

Lovely tribute Dave, thanks for sharing these wonderful snapshots of your blessed life together with the master. I dare say you enriched his life as much as he enriched yours.

docdave said...

From Russ Cochran:

Dave, I knew you would have something eloquent to say about Frank. I have been asked for my
comments and have not responded to anyone yet.

The Frank I remember is the man I met in 1965 who became a different man in ____ when his
thyroid problems overwhelmed him, and who then became a different man after his 1995 (?) or was it 1994?...stroke.

Physically he became a caricature of himself.

My perspective is a bit different. I was good friends with Frank and Ellie from our first meeting in 1965 when Frank
lived in Merrick, before he moved to Brooklyn. I was a frequent visitor to the Frazetta household, always teeming with
the activity of the four children. I was permitted (by Frank) to sit up with him late at night when he would paint, and
I would just watch. Now I realize how special that experience was, to simply sit there and watch Frank create a
painting, or an arm, or a sword, or whatever.

Then I sold my business to Geppi in 1993 and started workiing for him. I didn't pay much attention to the Frazettas then
and their constant need for money (for the children) led them to Joe and Nadia, who pretty much handled whatever Ellie deigned to sell up until...what?, 2008? So I was out of touch...not completely, but not like I had been...for the last 15 years or so.

So when I remember Frank, I remember the years 1965 through around 1990, and those are happy memories.


Anonymous said...


I am deeply grateful for your generosity in sharing these glimpses into your friendship with Frank.
Recalling my own reaction to the 1977 show, I was just a teenager then and a struggling art student.I was overwhelmed with joy.
Franks show and meeting Ellie are two highpoints in my life. Regretfully I did not make the trip to the museum,I do still champion Frank's work in my own small way.
Long live Frazetta!

Stephen Baker

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hidden Frazetta Treasure #1

What I plan to do in this series is display and comment on some of the lesser jewels in the Frazetta body of work that I think are significant.

This sketch is the frontispiece from the ACE paperback for SAVAGE PELLUCIDAR. These little frontis drawings are uniformly excellent, beautifully designed, and intricately rendered. The nicer ones seldom appear in the original art marketplace. This one is unique because it is in this drawing that we first see the beginnings of the Canaveral rendering style. The linework is wild and exuberant. This drawing is the bridge to the later mature Canaveral style.

Dr. Dave Winiewicz

Hidden Frazetta Treasure #2

Here are two versions of the frontis drawing for THE SON OF TARZAN from ACE paperbacks. The one on the left is the published version. The original on the right is the first version. The difference is clear. The original version has more dramatic lighting. Frank uses the shadows to define the foreground and background. The published version eliminates this and relies on a very elegant and delicate line to render the scene, both foreground and background. Both versions are simply stunning.
Why did Frank not just publish the first version? Why draw another version? I strongly suspect that Donald Wollheim, then the editor of ACE books, concluded that the first version would be too muddy in print. The early ACE paperbacks were cheaply produced on the poorest quality paper. The linework would be compromised and the drawing would lose its elegance and become visually bottom heavy. Wollheim wanted something with cleaner lines that had some separation. Either way, both drawings are little masterpieces and it is quite nice that both versions exist.

Dr. Dave Winiewicz ©2008