Tuesday, May 11, 2010

portrait of the artist as a young killer

comics industry titan of titans frank frazetta died of a stroke this week at the tender age of 82. the norman rockwell of science fiction and fantasy art had sired countless imitators but no superiors. however, instead of redundantly reproducing some of the world's most recognizable and ubiquitous art, i thought we'd take a rare glimpse of the artist himself in his element:

frazetta and his friends and colleagues often posed for each other's reference photos, and frank certainly looked like one of his own archetypal heroic subjects.

this 1954 story from ec comics shock suspenstories represents frazetta's only solo piece for the company, and he modeled its callow protagonist's looks after his own. (bonus quiz: ec comics' publisher and mad magazine founder bill gaines makes a cameo appearance as well. can you spot him?)

(story by bill gaines and al feldstein; art by frank frazetta)


  1. The famous photo of shirtless Frank Frazetta wearing jeans at Jones Beach in the '50s was taken and used as reference on page two, panel one of "Squeeze Play." The figure is reversed, but the use of photoreference throughout this story is unmistakable.

  2. Frazetta was a LIAR when he claimed he didn't use photo reference. He used it THROUGHOUT his career. There are far too many examples to the contrary out there, and more are surfacing as time progresses. This blog shows another referenced panel from "Squeeze Play":


    Still enjoy much of his work, reference or not. His best work had powerful expression in it, and his paintings revealed a fine color palette.

    1. i'm curious: when did frazetta claim he didn't use photo reference? the only source google returns for the quote from your linked article all point to the same article.

  3. Frazetta himself wrote that he works "purely from imagination, no swipes" here:


    Utter hogwash, of course---just perpetuating his own "legend" which is completely unnecessary---he was a terrific illustrator who often (but not always) used reference, and that's that.