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A Look at the Work of Frank Frazetta

While many comic book artists have achieved certain levels of fame, few have developed the notoriety of the legendary Frank Frazetta. This is because Frazetta’s immortal covers and his gallery paintings were among the most brilliantly crafted in the history of the industry. This is why it is important to explore Frazetta’s work and understand their themes. Additionally, it would be helpful to compare Frazetta’s raw approach to comic art to that of the pop art artist Roy Lichtenstein in order to gain further understanding of Frazetta’s talents.

In the 1960’s, Frank Frazetta lent his talents to the covers of a series of Conan the Barbarian paperbacks. Probably the most famous of all these covers was his painting “Barbarian” which featured a grizzled Conan holding his sword in front of him, standing on top of a pile of dead bodies, with a half-naked woman holding on to his leg. (Image: http://www. gamerevolution. com/images/misc/Image/frank_frazetta_barbarian. jpg) More than anything else, this image truly defines the psyche of those who love the Conan books. The tales of Conan are heavily rooted in escapism.

Conan appeals to young males who craze power, strength, and sex appeal. The garish image of Conan in this painting presents all of this in a very obvious manner. As such, it has the ability to strike a nerve with those who view the images. They look at the painting and – for better or for worse – will wish they are Conan. While some may consider this an appeal to prurient banality, Frazetta was not interested in the sentiments of such critics. He directed his work towards a certain demographic and this demographic embraced him.

This is much different from Lichtenstein’s approach which sought the approval of those with “higher” A Look at the Work of Frank Frazetta – Page 2 sensibilities. Such work is a huge departure psychologically from the work of Lichtenstein. Namely, Lichtenstein’s work was not directed towards fans of the subject matter. While Lichtenstein’s painting did have love for the subject matter, they were intended more for art gallery fans trying to make sense of – if not condescend towards – the audience of the material. With Frazetta, a direct appeal to the sense of the audience is present.

Frazetta had a long history of this type of imagery. We can see it in his early works from the 1950’s. () The cover to Weird-Science Fantasy 29 (Image: http://images. heritagecoin. com/ images/hnai/75/12051/12051010109o. jpg WSF 29) depicts a space traveler battling feral creatures with a club. This is an ironic cover that truly makes one wonder what is inside the actual comic. That is because the future and the past are mixed with this imagery. Thus, some mystery about the content is created. More importantly, we have the promise of action and fighting. This was a cornerstone of Frazetta’s work.

The more passive Lichtenstein approach would craft interesting art from comic pages, but it was passive, cerebral and emotional. With Frazetta, we are treated to raw, powerful emotion. This is what made his artwork so intriguing. We are glimpsing into a realm of fantasy far beyond the boring world we live in. Why was there so much emphasis on action? Because Frazetta tried to create a glimpse into a world far removed from our own. This is his appeal: Frazetta’s world is A Look at the Work of Frank Frazetta – Page 3 one of mythic fantasy. The Death Dealer (Image: http://www. bpib.

com/illustrat/ffdeathd. jpg) is very similar to the Conan paintings as it also deals with raw power and fighting. The villains that the title Death Dealer is combating are non-human entities. There is much symbolism in these creatures. They are, essentially, the personification of anxiety. While Lichtenstein is often dealing with romance and love not realized, Frazetta knows the anxiety young males often face comes from bullies and stronger males. Anxiety can also come from authority figures or even impossible situations. This anxiety is transferred into the weird villains of Frazetta’s subject matter.

Then, the anxiety is eliminated at the hero destroys and vanquishes his foes. The cover of EERIE 30 is similar to this but it is also a strange departure from Frazetta’s traditional work. With this cover, we see a young boy saving a man and a woman from a Mummy. Granted, the horror elements are unique but the common theme of power is here. While the adult male cowers thrusting a woman in front of him to protect him from the evil mummy, a young boy grabs the leg of the creature to stop is. Young males could identify with this character which aided in selling the magazines.

Lichtenstein’s work, however, holds no appeal to young males on any level. Again, his work is cerebral as opposed to emotional. Frazetta was a very raw artist who understood the value and power of raw emotion. He also understood the desires and fears of his young male fans. That is why he A Look at the Work of Frank Frazetta – Page 4 was able to craft imagery that appealed to them to such a degree his work became timeless. Bibliography Official Frank Frazetta Webpage. (2009) Frazetta Art Gallery. Retrieved February 11, 2009 from http://www. frazettaartgallery. com/ff/index. html American Art Galleries.

(2009) “Frank Frazetta”. Retrieved February 11, 2009 from http://www. americanartarchives. com/frazetta. htm DRAFT ONE Frazetta – Barbarian http://www. gamerevolution. com/images/misc/Image/frank_frazetta_barbarian. jpg While many comic book artists have achieved some level of fame, few have become as famous as the legendary Frank Frazetta. This is because Frazetta’s immortal covers and his subsequent gallery painting were among the most brilliantly artistic in the history of the industry. This is why it is valuable to explore examples of Frazetta’s work and understand the themes present within them.

Additionally, it would be helpful to compare Frazetta’s raw approach to comic art to the pop art legend Roy Lichtenstein in order to gain even further understanding of Frazetta’s talents. http://images. heritagecoin. com/images/hnai/75/12051/12051010109o. jpg WSF 29. The cover to Weird-Science Fantasy 29 shows a space traveler battling feral creatures with a club. This is an ironic cover that truly makes one wonder what the tale is about. That is, we have the future mixed with the very early days of the past. More importantly, we have a lot of action and fighting. This was a cornerstone of Frazetta’s work.

Lichtenstein could craft interesting art from comic pages, but it was passive, cerebral and emotional. With Frazetta, we are treated to raw, powerful emotion. This is what made his artwork so intriguing. We are glimpsing into a realm of fantasy far beyond the boring world we live in. Why was there so much emphasis on action? Because Frazetta tried to create a glimpse into a world far removed from our own. This is his appeal: Frazetta’s world is one of mythic fantasy. In the 1960’s, Frank Frazetta lent his talents to the covers of a series of Conan the Barbarian paperbacks.

Probably the most famous of all these covers was his painting “Barbarian” which featured a grizzled Conan holding his sword in front of him, standing on top of a pile of dead bodies, with a half-naked woman holding on to his leg. More than anything else, this image truly defines the psyche of those who love the Conan books. The tales of Conan are heavily rooted in escapism. Conan appeals to young males who craze power, strength, and sex appeal. The garish image of Conan in this painting presents all of this in a very obvious manner. As such, it has the ability to strike a nerve with those who view the images.

They look at the painting and – for better or for worse – will wish they are Conan. While some may consider this an appeal to prurient banality, Frazetta was not interested in the sentiments of such critics. He directed his work towards a certain demographic and this demographic embraced him. This is much different from Lichtenstein’s approach which sought the approval of those with “higher” sensibilities. Such work is a huge departure psychologically from the work of Lichtenstein. Namely, Lichtenstein’s work was not directed towards fans of the subject matter.

While Lichtenstein’s painting did have love for the subject matter, they were intended more for art gallery fans trying to make sense of – if not condescend towards – the audience of the material. With Frazetta, a direct appeal to the sense of the audience is present. The Death Dealer image (http://www. bpib. com/illustrat/ffdeathd. jpg) is very similar to the Conan paintings as it also deals with raw power and fighting. The villains that the title Death Dealer is combating are non-human entities. There is much symbolism in these creatures. They are, essentially, the personification of anxiety.

While Lichtenstein is often dealing with romance and love not realized, Frazetta knows the anxiety young males often face comes from bullies and stronger males. Anxiety can also come from authority figures or even impossible situations. This anxiety is transferred into the weird villains of Frazetta’s subject matter. Then, the anxiety is eliminated at the hero destroys and vanquishes his foes. The cover of EERIE 30 is a strange departure from Frazetta’s traditional work. With this cover, we see a young boy saving a man and a woman from a Mummy. Granted, the horror elements are unique but the common theme of power is here.

While the adult male cowers thrusting a woman in front of him to protect him from the evil mummy, a young boy grabs the leg of the creature to stop is. Young males could identify with this character which aided in selling the magazines. Lichtenstein’s work, however, holds no appeal to young males on any level. Again, his work is cerebral as opposed to emotional. Frazetta was a very raw artist who understood the value and power of raw emotion. He also understood the desires and fears of his young male fans. That is why he was able to craft imagery that appealed to them to such a degree his work became timeless.

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