For someone of my age, it is impossible not to think of Frank Frazetta when we think of fantasy. Frazetta was ubiquitous and his paintings adorned the bookshelves with their unique blend of realistic painting, with wholly unrealistic idealised men and women with ne-er so much as a chain to hide their nudity. Un-PC it might have been, but it was probably thanks to his art that we still remember Conan the Barbarian, and the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And are able to continue to enjoy the likes of 300, Game of Thrones, Thor, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars etc. on TV and film.
Aged 16, he started drawing for comic books that varied in themes: westerns, fantasy, mysteries, and histories. Some of his earliest work was in funny animal comics, which he signed as “Fritz”. During this period he turned down job offers from comic giants such as Walt Disney. But in the early 1950s, he worked for EC Comics and several other comic book companies. Through the work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies, Frazetta started working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip.
Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time, as well as working on the Flash Gordon daily strip. In 1961, after nine years with Capp, Frazetta returned to regular comics. Work in comics for him was hard to find, as comics had changed during his period with Capp and his style was deemed antiquated. Eventually he joined Harvey Kurtzman doing the parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy magazine. But it wasn’t until 1964 that one of his magazine ads caught the eye of United Artists studios. He was approached to do the movie poster for What’s New Pussycat and earned his yearly salary in one afternoon.
He did several other movie posters and started producing paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. His cover for the sword-and-sorcery collection Conan the Adventurer by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp caused a sensation. Numerous people bought the book for its cover alone. From this point on, Frazetta’s work was in great demand and became the standard for the fantasy genre. During this period he also did covers for other paperback editions of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs books, such as Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. He also did several pen and ink illustrations for many of these books.
If you want to find out more about the man and his art, here are some links to sites where you can start:
And just to illustrate how popular his work is, here’s a piece of his that sold for $1million:
RIP Frank… you’ll be sadly missed but not forgotten
Some of the more observant among you will have noticed that I’ve re-designed my blog, and it’s predominately pink in hue. Now if the phrase “but you’re a dude… why have pink?” springs to mind… then shame on you. Pink is an excellent colour (or to be correct… tone) and needs to be freed from the chains of prejudice and bigotry. I personally like this colour, and am currently working with it to create a series of body abstract paintings (the first of which: ‘Pink is the colour of intamacy’ is above).
These paintings (2 more in the pipeline) not only try to capture the innocence and gentleness of the colour, they also incorporate some of the colour’s more popular connotations: love and sexual preference. Yes, pink is the colour of love… although hearts are red, and is also the colour used to identify all things gay. The latter reference probably dates back to Hitler and his camps where homosexual men were badged with pink triangles (along with yellow stars for Jews, and Roma gypsies with black triangles) rather than the gender stereotyping we know today.
Speaking of stereotyping… colour has for a long time been used to symbolise things. From the yellow of fear, to the red of rage, colours create an immediate unconscious response in people. For example, very little food we eat is coloured blue (Smarties just prove the rule), as edible vegitation tends not to come in that colour. And art has used colour as a code to help the viewer understand hidden meaning. I am refering to the trend for Renaissance (and pre-Renaissance) artists to ‘colour code’ religious figures.
You may not be consciously aware of it, but we all associate colour with the figures from the Bible. If I were to ask you to describe Mary, although there is no description of her in the texts, I am sure that everyone will know that she wears sky blue (and white) robes. Am I right? What of Jesus? I bet red is in there somewhere. What you may be less aware of is that each apostle is awarded his own colour, which in turn has a connotational meaning to further describe his character. I won’t go into any more detail (as that’s what Google is for) except to say that Judas wearing yellow is no coincidence.
But surely everyone knows that pink is the colour of girls, and that blue is for boys?
Again, not true… I’m a boy (albeit now old and wrinkly) and I have no problem wearing pink. In fact, the notion that ‘pink is for girls’ is a relatively modern notion that was artifically introduced in the 1940s. Uptil then, the colour for girls was blue… just as the Virgin Mary, and for boys it was a toned-down red: ie pink, clearly seen as a masculine colour.
So pink had always been the male colour, and blue for girls. So what happened? Well, in the neverending noble quest to get women on an equal footing with men, the ‘girly’ colour blue was abandoned for the more masculine colour pink. And then some decades later (in the late ’60s, early ’70s I think) there was another push, this time to market goods specifically to girls, and pink was decided to become the branding colour for girls… and since then we boys have been denied it’s elegant beauty.
I’m here to redress that imbalance. Long live pink (and now I’m off to watch ‘Doctor Who’)
———- A quick addition
Another titbit of pink info… did you know that during WWII the British Spitfires were painted pink as this made them invisible to the eye while they surveilled France? Wish I had a photo. Also, I’ve just found a neat graphic charting the history of the colour pink. Check it out at http://bit.ly/bJ6pmE
A thought provoking comment about anon attacks on artists and models going on on dA and other sites. When is reporting violations on dA, Facebook et al the right thing to do?
The nipple is bringing down civilisation as we know it…
There’s been a lot said (and more acted upon) concerning photography and questions of decency and/or privacy. This has resulted in various social websites such as Facebook to panic at the merest whiff of controversy. It appears that if someone happens along to a photo that shows nudity and complains, the hounds of ‘decency’ are let loose, regardless of whether the image is actually indecent or offensive. It’s now got so stupid that even the BBC has to remove Old Master paintings from the screen lest the sight of painted flesh offends anyone… not that anyone would. This is typical of a new ‘proactive’ approach that beggers belief. To remove a Renaissance painting (or blur its content) in a programme about art in the off chance that some moron might complain of pornography informs me that the world has indeed gone mad.
And what of privacy?
I grew up admiring the urban photographs of buildings and people. The powerful images reflecting real life did much to inform me of the human condition and my place within it. But since the great-and-holy-Diana-whom-nothing-but-praise-be-said-in-hushed-tones complained of photographers using images she hadn’t first vetted, it seems that all and sundry are over-reacting to the man (or woman) with a camera. As if taking a shot of a street that may have a child somewhere therein would magically feed paedophiles up and down the globe. Exactly how can a home video of a nativity play threaten the children? And this mentally is extended to adults… “I appear in a landscape photograph… pay me”.
Now I’m not talking about models, advertising etc., but rather I’m referring to street photography capturing moments in time. I myself was bemused one day when I worked in the City to find myself unexpectedly elevated to celebrity. Trying to buy a sandwich, or a magazine etc. I found people staring and pointing. Many strangers actually approached me to ask how my ‘problem’ was doing. As it turns out, the night before there had been a TV documentary about male erection problems. This programme had plenty of statistics throughout, which were displayed on top of a film of commuters crossing London Bridge. As the people walked to camera, the scene froze and the stats appeared.
As it happened, I always wore a striking coat to work, and the filmmakers obviously felt that my image would be great to freeze on as the background. So there I was, all through the programme… freeze on me and then talk about erectile dysfunction.
Now I don’t have a problem with this (people film the London Bridge commuters every day) as it was just an anonymous group of people serving as background. It wasn’t about me, so why would anyone else in my position feel that they had a right to be paid huge sums in compensation? If I lived in the US… NY to be precise… then at least I would find that some sanity still prevailed, and that street scene photographers were protected from being sued (see Nussenzweig v. DiCorcia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for more info). No-one seems to complain of being captured on CCTV or video… but someone with a camera…. oh no!
One day I hope to wake up and find that the life I’m living is just one big nightmare.