Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Long before Frank Frazetta became internationally renowned for his genre-defining — and redefining — paintings of Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars and other characters, he created the Snow Man. A scrappy ax-swinging, pipe-smoking statue brought to life, the Snow Man was introduced in 1944 in the first and only issue of Tally-Ho Comics, marking Frazetta’s comic book debut. He was 16 years old.
“All I did was one story, I was the kid who created the character,” Frazetta later recalled. “I did the pencils, and [Baily Publishing artist John] Giunta did the inking. I was only a kid, I didn’t even know how it was done.” However, Frazetta quickly learned, becoming first a comic book artist, drawing Western, fantasy, mystery and funny-animal stories, and then a painter whose influence on sci-fi and fantasy is still felt.
That’s a far cry from the record $3.2 million paid in August for a pristine copy of the 1938 first appearance of Superman, but certainly nothing to sneeze at.
“High-end, vintage comic books across the board continue to show incredible market durability,” Ed Jaster, Heritage’s senior vice president, said in a statement. “The auction total, at $7.17 million, is the third-highest grossing comics auction in history, period.”
Other comic book highlights of the Nov. 20-22 auction include a CGC-graded 7.0 copy of Pep Comics #22, featuring the first appearance of Archie Andrews ($143,400) and a CGC-graded 6.5 copy of Captain America Comics #1 ($107,550).
The auction house also noted high prices paid for the first appearances of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, which it attributes to anticipation for the characters’ big-screen debuts: a CGC-graded 5.5 copy of All Star Comics #8 sold for $44,813, more than triple its list value, and a CGC-graded 3.5 copy of More Fun Comics #73 went for $38,838, 10 times its guide price.
Also of note: Bill Everett’s original cover art for 1967’s Strange Tales #152, depicting Doctor Strange and Umar, sold for $71,700, while Frank Frazetta’s 1967 cover painting for Jongor Fights Back fetched an impressive $179,250.
With the release last week of Princess Ugg #4, writer/artist Ted Naifeh cleared some time in his schedule to discuss the ongoing Oni Press series. After years spent with Courtney Crumrin, the creator moves into new territory by combining barbarian adventure with a princess finishing school to create a social satire/adventure tale.
While I had read the first few issues in preparation for our discussion, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to learn Naifeh created the character out of a desire to “play with Frazetta-style barbarian fantasy.” That turns out to be just one aspect of his work I was delighted to learn about, has his candor about the creator/editor dynamics also proved informative.
As a kid, The Phantom was one of my favorite comic strips. So last year, I was enthused when I learned that writer Jeff Parker was collaborating with artist Marc Laming on a miniseries called Kings Watch, starring Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician.
Ahead of the July release of the trade paperback collection, I spoke with Laming about the miniseries, and to briefly discuss how the project has opened the door for future work for him. My thanks to Laming for his time and to series editor Nate Cosby for facilitating the interview.
A $20 entrance fee to the gallery, located at 920 Congress Ave., will go toward the Frazetta Estate’s preservation of the art for the planned new Frazetta museum. The original museum in Pennsylvania closed shortly after the artist’s death in May 2010.
The collection features 12 pieces: “Death Dealer 1,” “From Dusk Til Dawn,” “Dark Kingdom,” “Egyptian Queen,” “Fire and Ice,” “Death Dealer 2,” “Swamp Demon,” “At Earth’s Core,” “Conan Man Ape,” “A Requiem For Sharks,” “Neanderthal” and a Frazetta self-portrait.
The exhibit will also feature work by other artists Rodriguez has worked with and studied under over the years.
“This has to be the most kick ass museum in the world,” the co-director of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For said in a statement. “For one, it’s the only place you can see original Frank Frazetta art, 12 masterpiece paintings total, alongside original art by Frank Miller, Drew Struzan, Sebastian Kruger and Clete Shields. Throw in character paintings by the cast of Sin City 2 and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, and you will never see anything like this event anywhere, in any museum. I’m very excited to be showcasing this mind-blowing art by my favorite artists and collaborators in Austin.”
The museum will be open from noon to 8 p.m. through March 16.’
Following up from last week’s opening of their joint exhibitions at New York City’s John Levine Gallery, the contemporary art magazine Hi-Fructose has an image-rich, wholly enthusiastic review of the twin shows of Ashley Wood and Jeremy Geddes.
Another sometimes-comics artist, James Jean, is again producing work in unexpected formats (remember his delightful wooden wedding invitations?). Check out that work, and more by street artists Joe & Max, sculptor Tim Bruckner, Tim Maclean and more, below.
Veteran artist Arthur Suydam is seeking help in recovering artwork recently stolen from his New York City studio. Among the pieces are Suydam’s own gouche painting “Alien Genocide” and a “Little Devil” ink drawing by the late Frank Frazetta. Images of both — the latter drawn by Suydam from memory — are shown in this post.
The artist is asking that anyone who might have been approached to buy the stolen works, or know of their whereabouts, to please contact him at email@example.com or (212) 475-4840. Tips will be kept confidential. Suydam’s message mentions a reward, but no additional details are offered.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d go all-in on AvX: Vs #1 (Marvel, $3.99). As a story format-junkie, this seems like an ideal supplemental series to the event comic series as we know it – I may have read it wrong, but this seems low on continuity and high on action – kind of a throwback to the condensed comics of the ’60s, I hope. And seeing Kathryn and Stuart Immonen on this together is a big deal – wish they’d get more chances like this! Next up would be the finale of The Twelve, #12 (Marvel, $2.99). I argued with myself about waiting for the trade at this point, but at the end of the day I’m more interested in this than a lot of everything else going on out there. Plus, I bought the eleven previous issues so I should finish it out, right? Next up would be Spaceman #6 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). I’m finding this series benefits from a deeper re-reading prior to each new issues, but it’s paying off in spades in terms of my enjoyment. This is definitely a palate cleanser after Azzarello and Risso’s run on 100 Bullets, but in a good way. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #11 (Marvel, $2.99). The Eisner Awards judges got this one right when they piled nominations on this book, because Waid, Martin, and Rivera have really made the quintessential superhero book here. The fill-ins from Khoi Pham and Marco Checchetto seem off-putting, but they’ve earned some lee-way after the murderer’s row of creators who started the book. Can’t wait to see Samnee on this, however.
If I had $30, I’d start off with an interesting looking project that’s gotten no press – Airboy: Deadeye #1 (Antarctic Press, $3.50). Chuck Dixon and Ben Dunn — what a pairing. After that I’d go back to get Supercrooks #2 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99); Mark Millar knows how to sell a high-concept, but it’s Leinil Yu that’s making me come back past the first issue. After that would be an Avengers two-fer: New Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99) and Secret Avengers #26 (Marvel, $3.99). I dropped off New a few issues back, but with this new issue covering some never-before-seen connections between Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force, I’m back in for this one. And Secret Avengers, well, Remender’s on a roll with his Marvel work and this is continuing on that without being an Uncanny X-Force retread. And guest artist Renato Guedes seems a better fit for this than his work on Wolverine.
If I could splurge, I’d lunge for a copy of The Art of Amanda Conner (IDW/Desperado, $29.99). I was fortunate enough to get a digital review copy of this earlier, and seeing it like that only made me want this more. Rather than just being a template art book plugging in her work, the design and packaging really go along with what you’d expect from Amanda’s tongue-in-cheek comic style. Reading this makes me want to go back and track down her earlier work that I missed.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]
Publishing | Dark Horse Comics and Vanguard Productions have reached an agreement on who will publish Frank Frazetta’s White Indian comics after each company had reached separate agreements with different members of the Frazetta family. Dark Horse has taken The Classic Comics Archives Vol. 1: White Indian off their schedule. Vanguard will release the Complete Frazetta White Indian Collection, while Dark Horse will collect all the post-Frazetta material that featured the character. [ICv2]
Passings | Mark Evanier reports that Jerry Grandenetti, who began his career as an art assistant to Will Eisner on The Spirit, passed away Feb. 17. Grandenetti’s work appeared in Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery, Prez and Championship Sports, among many other titles. [News from Me]
Pricing | Douglas Wolk considers the higher price of comics: “Twenty years ago, the price of a new mainstream comic book was 75 cents, about to make the leap to a dollar, the same percentage they’re currently increasing. For a $20 bill, you could get a stack of a couple dozen titles, with some interesting indie experiments thrown in.
“Since then, the price of comics has zoomed far ahead of the cost of living: $20 in 1990 is the equivalent of a bit over $33 now, while new mainstream comic books have more than quadrupled in price. And what happens when comics abruptly increase their cover prices by a third while adding little or no extra content–and the $20 standard gets you all of five 22-page comic books that take a few minutes apiece to read–is that that value proposition gets a lot less enticing.” [Techland]
The internet is rightfully rich with tributes to Al Williamson in recent days. When news of his passing got around, I decided to contact a variety of folks to find out their favorite Al Williamson work. Some were willing to single out certain works, others preferred to speak to his work as a whole. I loved the variety I was able to elicit from respondents, be it with replies to my request or directing me to previous statements they had made about Williamson since his passing. My thanks to the many folks who replied, as well as Dark Horse’s Jim Gibbons for gathering a couple of these perspectives for me (speaking of Dark Horse, be sure to read Dave Land’s Al Williamson recollection at the publisher’s new blog). In addition to these Williamson recollection/recommendations, it would be spectacular if you share your own favorite Williamson works in the comments section. Finally, please note that the Williamson family has suggested donations (in lieu of flowers) be made to:
Yesteryears Day Program (a program for frail, isolated, or impaired seniors)
2801 Wayne Street
Endwell, NY 13760
The Al Williamson Scholarship Fund
The Kubert School
37 Myrtle Avenue
Dover, NJ 07801
Publishing | Brigid Alverson, Simon Jones, Gia Manry and Daniella Orihuela-Gruber provide commentary on Tuesday’s announcement that Viz Media is restructuring, laying off up to 60 employees and closing its New York City branch. Manry cautions that there’s little need for panic, while Jones points out that it’s unclear whether the company’s cuts are in its manga or anime divisions.
Alverson notes that the news came as such a surprise because Viz publishes the most popular manga properties (Naruto, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist) as well as some of the most acclaimed (Children of the Sea, Pluto, 20th Century Boys): “However, as publishing veterans know, acclaim does not necessarily equal sales.” [Viz Media]
A roundup of remembrances, tributes and obituaries for legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, who passed away Monday at age 82:
Timothy Bradstreet: “It’s very difficult to articulate how much Frazetta influenced me. That influence does not seem readily apparent in my work after all. Sure, I tried my hand at drawing just like Frazetta just like everyone else did. A lot of great artists have tried and have fallen short. Frazetta’s influence with me goes deeper — our hearts are connected, style and process are simply a means to an end. I read Frazetta’s own words speaking to what goes through his mind when he creates, and that confirms for me that we share a common connection. He may have painted with fire, but the coals are stoked somewhere much more deep down in the soul.”
Guillermo del Toro: “He gave the world a new pantheon of heroes. He took the mantle from J. Allen St. John and Joseph Clement Coll and added blood, sweat and sexual power to their legacy. … He somehow created a second narrative layer for every book he ever illustrated.”
Tom Richmond: “Frazetta’s fantasy illustrations were so charged with mood, savagery and movement they literally seethed and smoldered from the cover of these books. As beautifully rendered as the other cover illustrations of Boris Vallejo were, there was always something elemental and primal that put Frazetta’s work on a level all its own.”
Renowned fantasy and comic-book artist Frank Frazetta passed away today as the result of a stroke. He was 82.
Heidi MacDonald has confirmation from his agent Robert Pistella that Frazetta died in a hospital near his home in Boca Grande, Florida.
Born on February 9, 1928, in Brooklyn, Frazetta began illustrating comic books at age 16, later working on titles like Barnyard Comics, Thrilling Comics and Happy Comics for Standard Publishing Co. By the early 1950s, he was drawing the Shining Knight stories for DC’s Adventure Comics, New Heroic Comics for Eastern Color and Durango Kid for Magazine Enterprises. In 1953, he started working as an assistant for Al Capp on Li’l Abner.
Frazetta left Capp in 1961 and started illustrating for men’s magazines, eventually teaming with Harvey Kurtzman on the bawdy “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy. It was during this period that Frazetta began painting movie posters, and covers for paperback editions of action-adventure and Warren magazines like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Frazetta’s work from the mid-1960s to the early ’70s became the primary influence for science fiction and fantasy art for decades.
Frazetta’s work and legacy were at the center of a bitter family feud that seemed to erupt in July 2009 after the death of his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who had long run her husband’s business. The dispute played out in public, with criminal charges, a lawsuit and angry allegations. Luckily, though, the family seemed to resolve its differences just last month.
Frazetta is survived by four children: Alfonso Frank Frazetta (Frank Jr.), William Frazetta, Holly Frazetta and Heidi Grabin.
The family of famed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has settled a bitter, and very public, feud that was marked by criminal charges and a lawsuit.
According to a statement posted online early this morning by publisher Vanguard Productions, all litigation involving Frazetta’s children and art “has been resolved.” The Pocono Record reports the agreement comes after the family — including Frazetta, sons Alfonso Frank Frazetta (Frank Jr.) and William Frazetta and daughters Holly Frazetta and Heidi Grabin — met with their attorneys and a federal mediator for two days to resolve the legal battle before trial.
Theft charges will be dropped against Frank Jr., who was arrested in December after he allegedly used a backhoe to break into his father’s museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to steal 90 paintings worth about $20 million. Frank Jr. claimed his father told him “to enter the museum by any means necessary to move all the paintings to a storage facility” to protect them from other family members — something 82-year-old Frank Sr. denies.
The lawsuit filed last month against Frank Jr. also will be dropped. His three siblings, who manage Frazetta Properties, accused Frank Jr. of violating their father’s trademarks and copyrights by selling lithographs, books, clothing and other items, and misrepresenting himself as the “authorized representative” of Frank Sr.
The dispute over Frazetta’s artwork reportedly began in July 2009 after the death of his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who ran her husband’s business for years.
According to the online statement, “Frank, his four children and his management team are thrilled to put any past differences behind them and look forward to working together as a family to preserve and promote the art and legacy of one of America’s greatest artists.”
The release also reaffirms that Frazetta’s art and intellectual property are owned by Frazetta Properties, and that Robert Pistella and Stephen Ferzoco continue as “the exclusive representatives” for sales, licensing and marketing.
“All of Frank’s children will now be working together as a team to promote his remarkable collection of images that has inspired people for decades. Frank wishes to thank all of his fans around the world for their loyal and enthusiastic support since the passing of his beloved wife of over 50 years, Ellie Frazetta.”