Thursday, September 15, 2011

Frazetta And The Werewolves

Russ Cochran recently sold 4 pages from the classic Frazetta story "The Werewolf" from CREEPY #1 magazine. He was selling them on behalf of Frank Junior, who decided to break apart the story. I was fortunate enough to obtain page 3 from the story. I always admired that page and never thought I'd be able to own it. It also reminded me of a discussion I had with Frank way back in 1993. Here are my notes:

OCT, 1993/ CREEPY discussion

DW: Where are the originals from that CREEPY story, Frank? Were you happy with the story? I haven't seen those originals in several years. I hope you didn't sell them. Ellie had them in the closet upstairs the last time I saw them.

FF: Is that the WEREWOLF story that I did?

DW: Yes, that's the one. You did it in ink and wash tones, very moody. The style is somewhat different from the Canaveral press drawings you did at the same time. You used less line work and more wash toning. The originals were quite impressive.

FF: Yes, of course I remember it. We have it upstairs somewhere. We sold the oil for the cover a long time ago. Russ sold it. I wasn't happy with it. Jim wanted me to add a picture of uncle creepy and give it an EC feel. The cover wasn't so hot, but the story was pretty good. Frank yells: ELLIE! WHERE'S THAT WEREWOLF STORY? BRING IT DOWN!

ELLIE: Forget about it, I'm cooking. I'm not going to run upstairs and dig through the closets. Look at something else. You have art all over the place. I'm busy; I have work to do.

[Frank searches and finds an old European hardcover book that has the story reprinted. It's on the shelf in his den. He brings it in for us to look at. He starts thumbing through the story. He looks at each page carefully, with an intense concentration. The reproduction is pretty bad.]

FF: I better not find out that she sold these originals. I know we have the whole story. I want to keep it together. I haven't looked at it in years.

DW: Why didn't you add a girl to this story, Frank? You had one in UNTAMED LOVE.

FF: I'll tell you exactly why. I didn't want any distractions. I wanted this story to be all about the mood and atmosphere. The whole thing was supposed to take place at night under the moonlight. I wanted to capture that magical late twilight period where the light is strange and mysterious. I left some printing notes to make sure the white backgrounds were printed dark. They didn't do it. I was pissed when I first saw it. Can't they pay attention? Bastards.

I wanted all the emphasis to be on the wolf. I forget the story, but I remember trying to get the wolf shots just right. I wanted him dark and mysterious, a silhouette of death moving in the night. I remember drawing that big panel page. All I had in my mind was the howling and snarling and spitting of that wolf. I swear to you that I heard that howling in my ears the whole time I drew the wolf. Strange. I wanted to catch that savage intensity. I remember it now. I played out a little drama in my mind. I had music on, very soft and mysterious. It helped my mood. It was fun. I put a lot of effort into those pages. I probably should have added more background wash tones to the backgrounds. That's how I saw it, but I got a little time pressed. And I still had that damn cover to do. By the time I got to the cover I lost a lot of interest.

DW: Time pressed? You waited until the last minute again? You know what Ellie says.

FF: What? That I'm lazy? HaHa! Yeh, she tells me that every day. I'm sick of hearing it.

DW: Honestly, Frank, that statement is ridiculous. Look at all the work you've done. I have a different theory on your late starts. There's a story about the great Joseph Clement Coll. Before sitting down to actually draw, he would sit in the corner by himself with a hood over his head. He was blocking out all sights and sounds, preparing to create. You are actually doing the same thing... in your own fashion. By waiting you are subconsciously preparing to do the job. When the time is right, you sit down and knock it out. Your imagination's fires are being secretly stoked. What do you think?

FF: Hey, you might be right. When it comes time to draw or paint there is no hesitation. I just do it, no worrying, no second-guessing. Tell that to Ellie, will ya? This story didn't take me long...a few days at most. Once I got started, it went pretty fast.

DW: My favorite page is actually the third page where they are slogging through the swamp. What great animation, great action, great texture in the clothing and vegetation. That page had a wonderful flow to the action from beginning to end. The design is perfect. That opening face of the hunter is simply superb. It contains so much...strength, malice, vanity, confidence, much there. I always thought that face was one of the greatest drawn faces in the medium of comics.

FF: Yeh, it is pretty good, isn't it. I had Ernest Borgnine in the back of my mind when I drew him. He doesn't look like him. I didn't want his likeness in the story. I just wanted to capture his way of playing that role. He was very hard and gruff and confident. If I had tossed in some girl, the story would have completely changed. I wanted to do a simple horror story with creepiness in there. Hell, the magazine was called "CREEPY" wasn't it? There's a lot of good stuff in this story. I like that demon transformation on the last page. Look at it. That came out well. I liked drawing the hunter. Look at that big bulk and raised hand on page two.
[Frank is showing me the images from the book as he talks.] That's good inking. It holds up.

DW: And, Frank, if I remember correctly, none of the pages have any coffee stains on them. That proves you were working hard.

FF: Frank laughs.

© Winiewicz/2011


monsterhoodoo said...

Great story, thanks for posting this. email me when you get a moment.

docdave said...

You need to leave me an email address.



kev ferrara said...

Priceless story. I love that he was experiencing internally what he was drawing with such imaginative force. With such great work, you know it couldn't be any other way.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Joel Fletcher said...


Thanks so much for hosting this great blog and your new posts. For a while there I thought you had abandoned the blog, so please keep it up. You probably know more about Frazetta's life than about anyone, so your contributions are invaluable.

As an aside, I have to comment on the presentation of your blog. The title image at the top is way too big for the blogger theme you are using and throws it off. And your newest post on Feb. 20, which has your mission statement, has a gigantic font for some reason. Something is amiss, maybe you can switch to a different blogger theme? I hate to complain because your content is fantastic, but the presentation needs a few tweeks.

Best Regards,

docdave said...

Hi Joel:
Thanks for the comments. As for the presentation, everything looks just fine on my computer. I have a 27 inch iMac, a MacPro laptop and iPad and it looks properly proportioned on all the platforms. Sometimes, different browsers present things differently.

Again, I thank you for your kind words.