Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unaware of distant thrashings

(Above, a mock-up of me with Frank Frazetta; ha! Probably the closest I'll get to seeing him for real ;-)

I had the happy chanced stumble to find a great comic resource: "The Drawing Board" via Mick Harrison's Blog. Thanks Mick! From there I have found great Classifieds (ads that actually entice pencilers, inkers and the like with MONEY! Wow :-) For those of you who don't know.. many sites have comic classifieds that go something like this:

"...I am actively seeking dedicated comics artists/co-creators with whom to work in developing original comics properties to pitch (at least five to eight pages of finished art)... I am looking for talented artists to help in bringing these works to their two-dimensional life. Only artists with a firm grasp of sequential comic art need respond... [Insert bunch of junk to indicate the dude(tte) has some kind've credentials)
...Work is currently non-pay, but fair percentages for the amount of work done will be negotiated once a project is picked up by a publisher...."

When I got to High School at the ripe age of 14, I looked at my ink-stained hands and said "No More Freebies!" And I stood by it. (OK, barring: relatives, fund-raisers and blood-brethren (& sistren), I don't draw for free. Why should you? Why should you advertise to the world that your work is worthless? I remember my 1st year teacher at Algonquin College, Peter Adamakos, going on at length about that in one of his lectures. I don't recall it in its entirety, but basically it had to do with: Pride, not just in yourself, but in your work, and belief in the validity (and saleability) of your work.

So anyway, it was refreshing to find a professional site that had classified ads for comic artists that offer dough for art. Cool :-) Since it was 1am, and for some reason I subconsciously believed that sleep was STILL for the weak, I thought I'd poke around and see what trouble I could get into there. And I found trouble--of course! A bit of a preamble to this story though, before I get to "ze meat"

When I was growing up, the burg I lived in had a population of maybe 800 (or so.) Now I was only about 20 km away from a major urban centre, so I didn't get the "living in a tiny village" syndrome that sends many people running for big cities, to get away from ALL THE NEIGHBOURS KNOWING EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU... ALL THE TIME!

But, it was a small enough town that the grocery store (the only place to buy stuff at the time) carried a wee spinner rack of comics and a spot with magazines off to the side. This was where you would find the TWO copies of Heavy Metal that would come in irregularly. Some reprobate bought one of those Heavy Metals, and I, at the tender age of 16 or so, bought the other one. It was like buying condoms or cigarettes or something. I'd have to stand in the checkout line, trying to hide my mag under a bag of chips or whatever, and the Octogenarian ringing it through would take a good gander at the stark(ish) naked space-girl on the front cover and wonder about me.

But! Back to the story.

Between the covers of those Heavy Metal comics was a lot of crap. But, there was also an amazing amount of beautiful artwork (like Findley's "Tex Arcana") which helped inspire me to draw, tell stories, get unladylike thoughts zipping around in my fertile teenager's head and such. Included in the long list of inspirational artists that I was exposed to through the mag is the legendary Frank Frazetta. (I mention Mr. Frazetta, because eventually this gets back to how I opened the Blog today.)

I fell in love with Frazetta's work the way you fall into a swimming pool filled to the brim with Jello. Hard, fast, covered in slime and no option to rise to the surface, save to devour everything around you and try not to think what it's made of. I kept my eyes peeled for Frazetta's work and accumulated a small stack of thin paperback art books, which have sadly fallen apart, a mere 20 years later... Mostly to the fact that I went through them over, and over and over again. (Below is "Conan the Avenger" - the cover painting to the first of those art books I had.)
Unlike a lot of people who got turned onto Frank Frazetta's work, it wasn't via the actual Conan the Barbarian paperback books. It was through prints, books, reproduced illustrations, the Ralph Bakshi movie "Fire & Ice", and also the deep respect and admiration of my Dad for the work and the artist. My Dad looked at the Frazetta works, nodded his head and said "This is really great stuff."

Just Sunday, I was visiting Keith's place and we were having a nice palaver over Pad Thai, drinks, convo, Gran Turismo and stuff, when he revealed, like a Magician pulling a dove out of thin air, that he had a movie for Clay & I to watch.
"What is it?" I demanded about a billion times.
"Wait and see!"

It was "Painting with Fire", which is a documentary/ interview/ reminiscence and adulatory piece about Frank Frazetta. I really enjoyed it. I love seeing how artists work. I especially love to see their studios. When I get into an artist, like most "fans" I want to know everything about them and understand where they draw their inspiration, how they work, how they think.

It was delightful seeing the early photos of Frank, hear the story of how he built his career. Realize that even the greats can be amazing procrastinators (putting off work for a whole month, only to burn in a creative frenzy for 8-15 hours to get a piece done for deadline!) It was cool seeing his closet chock full of cameras (I piped up: "Now I don't feel so bad!" --I too have a camera fetish.) It was inspiring, and made me want to draw like crazy (which of course was the effect that Keith had anticipated.) We sat around and drew for a few hours and I was happy as a clam.

Anyway, back to The Drawing Board, poking around in Forums and realizing stuff is happening. Now, you know where I stand on the matter of Frank Frazetta. He isn't God, but he is a hell of a talented painter. Apparently there is a real fooferah between him and another artist, called Mike Hoffman. Up 'til now, I think I'd only seen his work around --maybe in Heavy Metal? Maybe in PinUps? Or magazines? I was unaware of the intense animosity happening between Frazetta & Hoffman.

I was browsing and saw a Forum topic called "Thirteen Reasons Why I'm Better Than Frazetta". Of course I had to look. I mean; c'mon! A link within the Forum lead to Hoffman's website (which I'll post here.) The vitriol and anti-Frazetta garbage that was fountaining out was astonishing. Hoffman's ANTI-FRAZETTA-FAN rage was also surprising (well, I suppose it shouldn't be that surprising really.) But, accusations aside, aren't these two professional painters in the same genre? Where does this rage, petty in-fighting, obvious jealousy sprout from?

One of the fellows (Sirspamdalot) on the Forum at The Drawing Board said: "...I can't help but think of Ash being attacked by his own hand in Evil Dead 2..."
A Hoffman alongside a Frazetta.

One of the Forum posters (visual myriad) puts it perfectly: "...on the artistic side, i think his artwork is a very pale imitation of Frazetta's work. Hoffman rips so many of Frank's artistic touches, but isn't able to use them intuitively, so his work lacks the life and energy that makes Frank Frazetta's work so timeless." - Daniel

I'm not going to waste a huge amount of time belabouring it, but after scanning through Hoffman's page, I had to write something. He's throwing accusations around like smoke bombs at a ninja convention... Yeah, some of them are true, I'm not Frazetta's publicist, so I can't put out a press release or whatever regarding the "Swipes" Hoffman accuses him of. I've watched "Painting with Fire" and yes, Frank says quite a bit of high handed things. But, my G*d man, he's 79; give him a break! If you get to 79 and every artist with two thumbs and a can of paint is killing themselves to paint like you, yes, you're allowed to refer to yourself as a "Legend".

Anyway, I'll hook up all the links, and folks can sort out for themselves what they think. All I know is that I would give a lot to have an original Frazetta hanging in the old pink house, and wouldn't give anything for a Hoffman. There, now I can be counted amongst the "intellectual dust mouse" Frazetta fans as well. Just an aside--I hopped on over to eBay following a Hoffman link and he's selling original "Death Dealer Sketches". Who's swiping what? ;-)



Patti said...

I've long been a fan of Frazetta's also, and have been in your exact position of standing at the cash in a convenience store, trying to hide the precious copy of Heavy Metal that you managed to get to before anyone else. If you think it's odd that a 16 year old girl would be buying it, how much odder is it that a gray-haired, middle-aged "auntie" type is buying it!

It's one of the very few magazines I'd pay to subscribe to, if only that it would mean I wouldn't miss a copy.

And I am not too proud to admit that look at it for the pictures. Never been very taken with the storylines, but the drawings and paintings are phenomenal. I was probably prepubescent when I first became interested in such the form of Vampirella magazines. (Frazetta painted the cover of the very first Vampirella mag.) Also a big fan of artists like Serpieri (of Druuna fame). Artists like him and Frazetta have an understanding of the human form that allows them to create works of art that, while stylized, sometimes in the extreme, but are still wholly convincing to the eye. I love that.

I also completely agree with your position of not giving away your art for free. I used to write erotic short stories and could have been widely published had I been willing to give my stuff away "for the sake of building my reputation." It riles me that so many publishers, both electronic and conventional, take advantage of writers who just want to get their name out there and will give their stuff away to do it.

I am, and always will be, more content with my small resume of published and paid-for stories than I could ever be with a long list of articles that would end up being tossed around online and winding up stolen by trashy XXX sites that pay the publishers but not the artists.

Michael said...

Geeze, what an excellent post! I feel like you stepped in and tore out a good chunk of my life and put it in your own words, well done.
I initialy wanted to say that I loved the picture of you and the cut out Frank and how jealous I was that you were at the museum, but the post overshadowed that.
Thanks for the read!