Five Frazettas

As a pen-and-ink guy, the list of painters in my influence receipt doesn’t run long, but if I were to whittle it down to just one name, I (like so many others) would be left with just one.  Just recently listened to the Sidebar podcast’s tribute to Frank Frazetta, and I thought I’d make a short little rundown of my favorite Fraz paintings.  I also have a couple of his pen and ink work that I really love, but for now we deal in color.

Mothman, to me, is every iconic pulp concept rolled into one striking image.  The strange visitor, the damsel in distress, and the rugged hero.  By washing the whole piece with earth tones, Fraz let the mothman pop out with the vivid tones of his wings and the rich reds of his eyes right smack dab in the center of the canvas.  With so much of the familiar mixed with the otherwordly, it strikes you as both disturbing and nostalgic.

The Mammoth is all about power.  I won’t pretend to have any familiarity with the thought process behind this piece, but if it were me… it would have sprung forth from a thorough enjoyment of the RAWK.  The RAWK is the jungle halving in the wake of the beast.  The RAWK is the blood in your veins when you charge with spear forward.  The RAWK is the look in its eyes as you stare up from under the shadow of his tusk.  The mammoth brings you the RAWK.

What do you have for it?

Birdman is an image of freedom.

The figure soars with his head upturned — enjoying the ocean breeze as the salt sprays his face, no doubt?  But then the light falls upon his wings, and we see the ropes binding them to his arms.  It is then one might realize that this may be Daedalus just moments after his son has plummeted into the ocean, with his face upturned, cursing the gods.

Birdman is an image of loss?

The Godmakers is a dirty, dirty image.

One might say it’s a play on self-reflexive self-reliance.  We try so hard to escape each other, but we’ve all we’ve got.  That hand hoisting you up may also be a crab claw pulling you down.

But mostly it’s just a dirty, dirty image.

Spider Man, originally and preferably titled Night Walk, is a testament to one image speaking a thousand words.  We know not the man who has slain the foul arachnid.  But we know the rage in his face and we know the fire he may be feeling in his venom-stained arms.  His left  knee presses into the spider’s abdomen, crushing it, forcing rancid bubbles up to the surface.

It was a long and ugly battle, and he may have been able to cut off one of the beast’s many legs, but only with this decisive impaling of its thorax does it end.  Green ichor mixes with blood in the blackness of the tar pit.  We’ve all been there.

I like Frank Frazetta.

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