Week 4: Being Frank

So this whole post started off innocently enough, I liked this Frank Brunner splash and this Frank Cho splash so I thought I’d add one or two more Franks’s and give it a cute name like Being Frank. Whoa! There are way more great comic book artists named Frank than I thought. I cut it off at seven, sorry if I missed your favourite Frank.

Frank Brunner is an unsung hero of the Bronze Age, he did some great work, like this Splash for Chamber of Chills #4 from March 1973 – so BRONZE.

How do you pick a Frank Miller splash? The man had like four different phases with very very different styles. I thought I’d go back to the early days with this tight Splash for Daredevil #160 from September 1979.

Frank Cho draws amazing girls but I wasn’t sure whether I should include him here (I think these are reprints from strips?) but when I saw this Splash from Liberty Meadows #15 where a great Frank pays homage to the greatest Frank.

Frank Quitley surprised me with this stylized Splash to Batman and Robin #3 from October 2009, nice mood and atmosphere to it.

Frank Robbins gives us a great Splash to Giant Size Invaders from June 1975.

I don’t know much about Frank Thorne but I know I like his nice Splash page to Marvel Feature #1 from January 1970.

The Frank for Franks! Frank Frazetta kills it with his splash page to Creepy #1 from 1974, this guy was a sorcerer.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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Bud Plant
4 years ago

Walter, great theme. You are mixing it up nicely here. The Cho is fun, he has a great sense of humor.

Frank Robbins is an artist who has only gotten his due from fellow artists and some dedicated fans. I have sadly neglected him. But Hermes’ archives of his Johnny Hazard strips from the 1940s-50s has made it all the way to SEVEN volumes, so there’s a fan base out there. The latest just crossed my desk a couple weeks ago. This was my response, being my description for my website and catalog. I gotta share it!

Shades of Alex Toth!!! Highly Recommended. Frank Robbins’ masterpiece, one of the all-time greatest action/adventure newspaper comic strips. One look at it reveals artwork that looks SO much like Alex Toth–like the best of Alex Toth. Imagine if Toth was drawing Steve Canyon–lots of airplane action in the sky, beautiful damsels in distress and bad girls. That’s it! Not sure who influenced who, but this is exciting work, with great action sequences. “One of the most important adventure strips ever to grace newspapers.”

Ok, here I am again. Now Frank Thorne is ANOTHER artist who’s work has also not been embraced a lot. I find things to like, but over his long career I don’t know of any works that knock me out like Robbins. That said, I have handled his numerous graphic novels, many of which are adult and sold very well.

And some of you may know of or have seen his live show at 1970s Cons, where he would dress as “The Wizard” and first Wendy Pini, and later a statuesque second lady would dress as a very sexy Red Sonja, with a sword and all the gear. Wendy was at last year’s San Diego Comic Con and this came up in conversation, we still get a big grin out of it. She was a fan girl in the best sense, and having fun, thanks to Frank Thorne.

Google it!

And that Frank Quitley, that’s wonderful.

Finally, Frazetta, what can you say? Sorcerer, indeed! Its Magic in a Bottle, his work like this still knocks me out, fifty years after first seeing it. You have to applaud James Warren, he really helped popularize Frank’s work in his first issues and knew a good thing. I think he let Frank draw anything he wanted for the cover paintings, no relationship to stories inside the issues.

Between the Creepy, Eerie and Vampi covers, and the Lancer Conan paperbacks, and the ERB Ace paperbacks, Frank was the fan favorite artist throughout the mid- sixties and seventies and on. His collections are still very, very popular. Only Wally Wood is as big a name these days, in my world of comics archives and art books. But I think Frank is still King. Kirby is king of comics, but Frank is king of fantasy illustration.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
4 years ago

I can’t add anything to Bud’s illustrious accolades! A superb group of splashes!

Bud Plant
4 years ago

Thanks, Walter. In the sixties, all us comic guys flipped thru back issues of looking for Frank’s work in the EC’s, of course, but also in Heroic, all that funny animal titles ifrom Standard. Thunda #1 was the holy grail for each of us. White Indian, Durango Kid, Tim Holt, Ghost Rider. The original comics were the one and only source for his comic book work, even while the Warren mags were appearing.

Only in 1967 did Ed April finally collect the rare Johnny Comet strips in a book. Not until 1970 or ‘71 did Russ Cochran begin doing the EC Portfolios, and in ‘71-72 East Coast Comics (Bruce Hershenson, using James Warren’s press time at World Color Press) started doing the first EC reprints. Bruce lived with me for a short time, and my address in San Jose is in several early issues. Pirate copies of The Sensuous Frazetta, collecting his rare men’s magazine and rarer solt-core porno paperback images, began to circulate. Steranko even carried them, and so did I.

My fledgling mail order business, and comic shops like the chain I was a partner in, Comics & Comix, and Cosmic Airplane in Salt Lake…who also sold through the mail…benefited hugely when Frazetta art began appearing on posters. Worldbeaters, run by a comics and art fan in Illinois, made a deal with Ellie Frazetta and did six prints. Then another six. They sold lot hotcakes. Better than hotcakes. Then Ellie did another dozen, and got them promoted in the calendars every year, starting a cottage industry herself, with the kids and friends filling orders.

Non-fans came into the stores to buy them. Everyone wanted Conan or The Werewolf or Sea Goddess on their wall. Finally Ballantine Books began their series of Frazetta art books, The Fantastic Art of Frazetta, in 1972, further reinforcing sales of the posters and getting Frank’s work into book stores, not just on paperback covers and magazine spinners.

I was having tubes manufactured while I was still living at home in ‘70-71, in my first years in college, primarily to fill orders for Frank’s posters. And it didn’t stop for many years. The fabled Frazetta calendars eventually began appearing in the seventies. But until the early 1970s, Frank was still relatively unknown outside of fandom and people buying Warren mags and sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks.

Chris Meli
4 years ago

My read on this assortment:

Brunner – Eh. I never thought much of him and this doesn’t help. You can imagine this scene being done by Wrightson, and that imaginary comparison makes this almost an embarrassment.

Miller – Objectively good, but when compared to later Miller (e.g. Dark Knight), it isn’t worth a second look. Here it seems like Miller is struggling to bring his style in line with standard expectations. I think he was best when allowed to follow his style, but while he still showed more interest in realism over impressionism.

Cho – Really good. A great talent who puts a lot of fun into his art.

Quitley – Initially I loved it, but the more I looked at it the more I wished it wasn’t quite as visually confusing.

Robbins – Dyn-o-mite! Of course I take points off for being unoriginal as an homage to wartime Timelys, but a great homage.

Thorne – In the bin with Brunner. If it wasn’t for his constantly displaying Sonja’s talents, nobody would have paid attention to him. Run of the mill for sure.

Frazetta – Cool art, did this guy do any other work in comics or elsewhere? I’ll have to look out for that name – sounds Italian.

4 years ago

On Frazetta, I believe there was an index in an issue of the EC fanzine/prozine QuaBrot that listed a bunch of his illustrations and his work with Roy Krenkel. I can scan and send this to Walter if interested.

An aside here: I remember I wanted to go on a bus tour to his museum /art gallery in Pennsylvania many years ago that Dan (the final manager of Silver Snail comics Hamilton store) was trying to arrange at one point. After a few aborted tries to get that scheduled with the museum and the fans in Ontario that wanted to go it just never happened.
It’s still open a few days a week run by his grandson I believe. Check frazettamuseum.com

I wasn’t a fan of Robbins superhero stuff at Marvel at all. It was too jarring to me to see his style on those characters. For my tastes you could replace him with Frank Springer, my 2 cents.