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.

Horror Classics: The Cursed King

I grew up watching Harryhausen films and Rankin Bass cartoons, so I really enjoy drawing classic monsters and otherwordly creatures. Discovering Frank Frazetta’s art in Mad Magazine (the Blecch parody ad) at an early age led me to hunt down his stuff wherever I could, and that only fed the monster jonesing. About a year ago, I decided to pay tribute to a cartoon I grew up on by drawing some of the key villains in very “Concept Artsy” styles. Here are those pieces:

Thundercats Legends got a good dose of positive feedback on my DeviantArt account and practically got me enough attention to start doing some commissions. I’m no Bleedman, but it was great to be able to receive the appreciation.

Anyway… now, just about a year after I started Thundercats Legends, I’m starting Horror Classics, which will showcase my take on the classic icons of horror. This’ll allow me to both quench my desire to pay some sort of tribute to the monster movies I grew up with and use the techniques I learned from doing the Legends set.

The line art for this piece took pretty quick. I was worried at first that all the bandages would be a lot of work, but once I noted the overlaps and the contours of the form, it went somewhat smoothly.

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of toning my line art as well, so I can take cues as I proceed with the actual coloring process. This stage of preparation gives me a sense of where I’m going and enables me to not lose sight of my goal with the piece. Also, it just looks nice.

The actual coloring of the character involved a layer of noise that was blurred just enough so it looked like the actual drawing was uniformly shaded with a pencil. I essentially peeled away at this layer to “sculpt” the form, then applied some color overlays to apply tones. Finishing touches were mainly just dodge and burn tools. Getting the mouth to be the main focus, and not the golden snake, was a bit of a doozy… but I think it came out well. The burn tool also allowed me to emphasize some dark areas around his mouth — as a result, it looks kinda like he’s smiling if you look at him from a distance.

I applied a paper-ish texture as the background, since I want this set to seem like it’s all wanted posters or, failing that, old-style illustrations on scrolls.

The Cursed King is but the first in a seven-piece set. It is available as a print on my DeviantArt store.