If you are a fan of Frank Frazetta then you probably know about his classic paintings of Conan, Death Dealer and beautiful women like Cat Girl. But you may not know that he got his career started with comic book art. While not considered high class work at the time, having any sort of steady job at such an early age was a good thing. It was Frank Frazetta’s comic art that spring-boarded him into becoming the legend he developed into later in life.
At the young age of 16 Frazetta broke into the comic industry by inking pencil art for John Giunta in an issue called Tally-Ho Comics. Inking other peoples’ work was a common way to get started, as Joe Kubert and Jim Lee have gone down the same path. Eventually work for EC Comics, among others, led Frank Frazetta’s comic book art to grow into a full fledged career. What is interesting though is how simplified ink illustrations transitioned into a career painting posters and book covers later in life.
Something noticeably striking about his comic art is that he used himself as a model. The use of a mirror is a figure artist’s most valuable tool and this becomes apparent in his work. The likeness between himself and the men’s faces he would illustrate is uncanny. His women have a signature look and body shape where they sometimes have thicker thighs with a thinner waist and an arched back.
You may be wondering what are some early examples of Frank Frazetta’s comic book art. Personal Love 24, 25 and 27 all have complete stories illustrated by him and show his iconic style. Compared to other artists’ figures in the same issue, Frazetta’s art seems much more dynamic. He really knew how to give the people character and have them be expressive with their bodies and hands. The importance of hands being used as a form of expression in visual art is something skilled artists are aware of. People often “talk” with their hands in reality, so neglecting this point can make drawings of people appear lifeless.
Unfortunately these issues of Personal Love comics, among others, can be pricey and sell for hundreds of dollars. Luckily there is a compilation comic called Untamed Love that is dirt cheap and easy to find. The only issue is that the colors are not true to their original publications. Interestingly, the line art seems more precise in these alleged reproductions. This makes me wonder if they were newly published from their original art.
It wasn’t until Frazetta began painting book covers and movie posters did he discover he could do a single commission to sustain himself for a lengthily period of time. This meant no more need for comic art. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.