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Tag Archive: Frank Frazetta


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re not a player of Dungeons & Dragons, a new journey through the hills and valleys of the roleplay game that started it all will get you up to speed quickly.  Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History is a comprehensive, authoritative, and licensed look back at nearly 50 years of gaming, storytelling, and artwork.  If you grew up with the game you are certain to find both nostalgia and page-after-page of new information in its more than 700 color images from the past, images of heroes and villains, monsters and other creatures, that brought in some 40 million players over the years.  Boasting some 10-15 million active players today, D&D now features the results of writers/D&D celebrity fans Michael Witwer (D&D historian), Kyle Newman (director of the movie Fanboys), Jon Peterson (game historian) and Sam Witwer (actor, Being Human, Smallville, Battlestar Galactica) pulling together published images and source art from each edition of D&D’s core books, supplements, and modules, magazines, advertisements, tie-in products, sketches, and draft rules.  Their sources include the archives at Wizards of the Coast, private collectors, and more than 40 designers and artists from every era of the game’s history.  Released in two editions, fans old and new can choose from the standard 448-page hardcover alone or a special edition Hydro74-designed boxed set with some intriguing extras.  You’ll find a 14-page preview below courtesy of publisher Ten Speed Press.

This… treatise… this behemoth of a book is smartly designed so readers can approach it for a quick burst of throwback fun or a detailed dive behind the creation and many changes of the game and the companies behind it.  You can find a side-by-side evolution and comparison of monsters and other characters, soak in old maps and character sheets, and compare the covers and key art across all editions.  Possibly the best contribution is comparative images showing specific pop culture sources for many of the designs that made it into the early books and supplements, everything from Frank Frazetta Conan the Barbarian paintings to panels of comic book art from Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales.

From Guidon GamesChainmail to TSR to Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro and the latest 5th Edition rule books, the D&D story is one of corporate takeovers, failures, successes and strategies, all to survive and ultimately consolidate with games including Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, World of Warcraft, and the entire Milton Bradley tabletop game catalog, all under one umbrella.  It all started with creators Gary Gygax and David Arneson, and their efforts to build on miniature figure battle games from centuries past, and modern rules for gaming that had a historic source:  sci-fi/fantasy author H.G. Wells first penned a gaming rulebook for miniatures titled Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books, an influential book inspiring gaming to this day.  The founders would pull in amateur artists and eventually professional artists, sprouting from a small headquarters in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, ultimately the source of Gen Con, the gaming convention that has been tied to D&D since the beginning.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Only a few Hollywood movie stars have reached icon status as Clint Eastwood has, from TV actor and film star in Westerns to street-smart leading man and pop culture idol, playing against type and then back again, and onward to award-winning director.  Eastwood has made his mark, and it makes sense that enough movie posters have featured his image and films to justify a book focused exclusively on the subject of the artwork instead of spotlighting any specific artist.  Not so much a survey of artwork as much as a comprehensive guide to movie posters featuring the star, Clint Eastwood: Icon–The Essential Film Art Collection is available this month in a revised and expanded edition for the first time in a decade.

In many ways Clint Eastwood: Icon would make for the ultimate auction catalog were all the items pictured for sale.  But it’s more than that.  Writer and compiler David Frangioni’s approach to collecting and his details about key posters will educate and inform even the passing film fan and collector.  Film expert and professor Thomas Schatz provides commentary on the context of Eastwood and his films within each decade.  Every area of collecting should be so lucky to have such a presentation in this format for its fans to admire.  Frangioni and Schatz include references to the artists when known, which is rare over the course of these hundreds of images.  The collection of work from these artists provides another niche study area for the history movie posters, including an international array of artists like Michelangelo Papuzza, Renato Casaro, Sanford Kossin, Peter Max, Jack Davis, Hans Braun, Lutz Peltzer, Lorenzo and Giuliano Nistri, Ron Lesser, John Alvin, Frank Frazetta, Bob Peak, Birney Lettick, Roger Huyssen, and Gerard Huerta.  Definitely a few names movie poster and pop art fans will recognize.

The posters represented aren’t only those styles seen by audiences entering American movie theaters.  These include many variations that appeared in theaters across the globe, some by artists whose names are lost to time, with decade-appropriate type styles and language to match.  As time marched on, more and more posters featured photographic images of Eastwood from the films, or other marketing photos of the actor inserted with or without additional artwork and text.  Why use a painting of Eastwood to advertise a Dirty Harry film when a photograph is most likely to reel in filmgoers?

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Next week Quirk Books is releasing its follow-up look at the obscure side of comic books with The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains, a companion book to its 2015 release The League of Regrettable Superheroes (reviewed previously here at borg.com).  Cartoonist and graphic designer Jon Morris has again researched the archives of Digital Comic Museum and Comic Book Plus to locate oddities from the Golden Age of comics to more recent series.

Morris collected more than 100 of these antagonists of the comic page, many only serving their plot in a single issue of a long forgotten publication.  These are villains that today seem laughable as bad guys, like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, Bloor (The Dictator of Uranus), The Horrible Hand (a giant hand), and The Human Flying Fish.  The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains is a great excuse to look back to the roots of comicdom, its creators, and the publications that have come and gone.  Morris’s overview of the far recesses of the Golden Age of comics may remind readers of the changing times–the changing audiences–for comic books, and how the industry has grown.  Creators of the obscure are mentioned in the book when known, and sidebars list plenty of humorous weaknesses of these vile fellows.  The Balloon Maker is particularly nefarious, and a baddie before his time–he’s something out of House of Wax or Silence of the Lambs.  As much as some entries are obscure, others, like MODOK, are better known–but still strange.

   

You’ll see plenty of examples of full color covers and interior art from the characters represented, as well as characters created by legends in comics like Dick Sprang, Frank Frazetta, Gill Fox, Jack Cole, Otto Binder, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, Joe Simon, Neal Adams, and John Romita.

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He-Man print in limited edition of The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Review by C.J. Bunce

Next month Dark Horse Comics releases a must-read for fans of He-Man, She-Ra “Princess of Power,” and the Masters of the Universe world of toys, animated series, magazines, chapter books, posters, comic strips, and comic books.  The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover includes more than 300 pages full-color art, a portfolio featuring an exclusive print by Gerald Parel, a foil-embossed cover, and a die-cut two-piece Castle Greyskull slipcase.  A standard edition of the book will also be available.  Many well-known creators worked with these characters since its inception in the early 1980s, including Ralph McQuarrie, Drew Struzan, Dick Giordano, J. Michael Straczynski, George Tuska, Klaus Janson, Boris Vallejo, Tony Moore, Darwyn Cooke, Geoff Johns, and Tommy Lee Edwards.

Designers from every stage of the creation of He-Man, She-Ra, Skeletor, and the large cast of sword and sorcery heroes and villains, offer insight into character development, decision-making, and the impact on 1980s kids.  The best feature is the inclusion of hundred of pieces of full-color art, concept artwork, page layouts, sketches, storyboards, packaging art, prototypes, never before seen and unused imagery, advertising art, original comic art, and final comic book pages, covers, and animation cels.  It features restored art from master illustrator Earl Norem, as well as interviews with Dolph Lundgren, who played He-Man in the 1987 movie, director Gary Goddard, well-known TV producer/comic book writer Paul Dini, and voice actress Erika Scheimer, among many others.  Captions for photos were written by comic book creators Tim Seeley and Steve Seeley.

The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover slipcase edition

Particularly of interest to toy collectors are the original notes from the development stage of the toy line at Mattel.  Mattel, which had passed on the ground-breaking Star Wars action figure line, developed He-Man as a direct competitor to that toy line.  Mattel drove the look of the characters–this was first and foremost a toy line, inspired in part by the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta.  But it grew beyond that.  Artists and writers and other creators remark with pride about the focus on the stories that went beyond the toy line.

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riddick-blu-ray-box-art

Review by C.J. Bunce

Many times when a movie is heavy with CGI and matte paintings, the overall look can suffer.  Not so with Riddick, coming to Blu-ray and DVD on January 14.  In his third live-action performance as Riddick, Vin Diesel finds his character marooned on an unnamed desert planet in its own primitive, almost Jurassic stage.  The first half of the film showcases the night-visioned anti-hero in an almost Conan the Barbarian-like quest for survival in a very Frank Frazetta-inspired fantasy world setting.  It’s a setting that really pops in the new hi-definition Blu-ray format.  We’ve previewed the Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios, including its extra features.

Riddick manages to surpass the epic second franchise entry Chronicles of Riddick with its more basic and tightly-written survival story.  We get a cameo from Karl Urban’s Vaako, including some of those great Necromonger soldiers and futuristic costumes familiar to fans of the series.  But this Riddick has more of the feel of the first entry into this world, Pitch Black, also written and directed by David Twohy.  Because Twohy has maintained control over the universe and its characters, the three films (plus the early animated entry, Dark Fury) all make for a cohesive and well-designed saga.  Twohy discusses his take on the character at length in the special feature “The Twohy Touch.”

Riddick and storm

Along with the stunning Monument Valley on Mars sets is some excellent CGI and motion capture creature work, including vicious mud-demons which take Riddick down a Ridley Scott-esque path toward films end, and some dog-like jackal beasts.  Riddick ends up raising one of these dogs as he finds his way through challenges to grasslands and an abandoned science station, where much of the remaining action takes place.  He sets off an S.O.S. beacon which brings two opposing groups of bounty hunter mercenaries, one to get the bounty for his head in a box, the other a military based group with a more personal agenda.  Their two ships become Riddick’s target for a plan to leave the planet.  His shadow ninja abilities allow him to drop in on these mercs, and create his own form of psychological war.  And his early encounter with the mud-demons plays into the coming rainstorm and his face-off with the mercs.

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Thrud the Barbarian cover

A parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian and other classic fantasy comics, Thrud The Barbarian will bring a welcome laugh to fans of fantasy stories.  As a comic strip first published in the pages of the role-playing game magazine White Dwarf, Thrud’s sound-effect laden panels (FOOM!  THWOP!  WHUMP!) became a staple for regular readers.  The new edition from Titan Comics reprints Issues #1-5 of the limited comic book series, as well as some original single page stories.  Thrud The Barbarian first came from the mind of 18-year-old Carl Critchlow back in 1981, and developed into a solid parody series.

Thrud manages to poke fun at nearly all of the conventions of fantasy stories, but does it in a wink-wink manner like Monty Python.  It’s funny and quirky with in-jokes aplenty.  Thrud is big and mean and dumb.  He’s a barbarian after all.  And he, and his free-swinging axe, are pretty funny.

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star-trek-juan-ortiz

Review by C.J. Bunce

What do the art of Saul Bass, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollack, Russian film posters, Milton Bradley Board games, Aurora model kits, pulp novel cover art like that of Frank Franzetta and Joaquin Pertierra, Gold Key comics, Beatles and Jimi Hendrix album promotional art, and boxing match posters all have in common?  They are all part of the imagery and nostalgia that defines what we think of as “retro” today.  They also were the inspirations for a new book about 1960s Star Trek.

This month Titan Books is releasing what is probably the most attractive hardcover, coffee table-style book about Star Trek ever created.  And it’s incredibly unusual in its contents.  Back in 1966 to 1969 when the original Star Trek first aired, what if TV episodes had movie posters to advertise them?  And what if you found a box full of these folded posters and published them today?  In truth, no one created such a poster back in the 1960s.  But that didn’t stop artist Juan Ortiz from taking on a personal project of creating pulp novel style poster art in a contemporary style for each of the 80 episodes of the original Star Trek series in his new book Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz.

Juan Ortiz Arena

How do you come up with such creations?  In part, for thirty days back in 2011 Ortiz committed to producing a poster every day of the month.  This was enough to sell the concept so he could complete the series.  If Ortiz can obtain this quality in such a short period of time, the sky’s the limit for this artist’s career.  Mainly designing work under the direction of other creators, Ortiz has worked for Disney, Marvel Comics and Warner Bros.  For this project, the ideas and implementation were all Ortiz.

If you are fond of 1960s mod imagery and pop art design, Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz will no doubt deliver your own blast from the past.  And each page could be trimmed out and framed–most of these full-page posters would edge-out their Mondo poster counterparts in creating cool, evocative images–some obvious but most subtle in their messages, pulling just the right bits and pieces from each episode.  Ortiz’s pop art goes beyond this book–you can buy prints, T-shirts, posters, even wine, emblazoned with Ortiz’s Star Trek images.  Check out his website for more information.

ST_EP_28_QMX

Admirers of Ant Lucia’s incredible retro-style art posters and collectors of Mondo posters featuring revisited movie imagery will be sure to be fans of Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz Ortiz’s book could also serve as a clip art book of sorts for ideas for creating posters, ads, and other signage for art directors and other creators of historic TV series and movies.  The design elements are all believable and if you didn’t know these were created in 2011 and 2012 you’d assume these posters were classic film entertainment memorabilia.  An added component is the aging of the posters Ortiz applies to make the posters seem fresh out of 45 years of storage, including folded pages, smudges and crinkled paper.

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Riddick and pal

Imagine a movie where Khan from Star Trek is trapped on Seti Alpha VI and Jabba the Hutt puts a bounty on his head and sends several mercenaries to track him down.  Now imagine this takes place in Jurassic Park and Ridley Scott’s aliens invade.  Oh, and Battlestar Galactica’s Kara Thrace is one of the bounty hunters.  And better yet, Khan is played by Vin Diesel.

sci fi and fantasy mix in Riddick

Imagine no further.  Just check out the new trailer to the latest installment in the Chronicles of Riddick, titled Riddick:

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Starting Monday, September 12, Heritage Auctions will be holding an auction in Beverly Hills, from the estate of comic art and rare book collector Jerry Weist, who passed away on Jan. 7 of this year.  Weist published the Comic Art Price Guides discussed here earlier.

The sale includes science fiction and fantasy art, rare first-edition books, movie posters, fanzines, pulp magazines, and comic books, many in high grades.  Weist was known as a collector with access to writers and artists and he was able to amass a unique collection of rarities.  His collection was formed by replacing prior copies of works with better condition copies, resulting in some very fine examples of first edition genre books.

Included are one of a kind artworks by Frank Frazetta, J. Allen St. John, Frank R. Paul, Wally Wood, Virgil Finlay, Alex Schomburg, Chesley Bonestell, Richard Powers, Frank Kelly Freas, Donato Giancola, and many more paintings by top genre artists.

The featured art includes this 1996 Frank Frazetta work that was used as a cover to a paperback Ray Bradbury short story collection.  Titled Tomorrow Midnight, it is estimated to sell between $40-60,000.

At the top of this article is Donato Giancola’s Stars Blue Yonder, a paperback cover painting, expected to sell for $4,000-6,000.

Vincent di Fate’s Future at War, also used for a paperback book, is another stunning piece being auctioned.

The original cover art to Weird Fantasy #17, drawn by Al Feldstein, is expected to sell for more than $18,000, and is a pristine example of early 1950s comic art.

The volume of key science fiction and fantasy books include many first editions, inscribed copies by major authors, including H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Connie Willis, and Philip K Dick.

Also for sale are pulp magazines, comic books, 1950s science-fiction movie posters, and fanzines.

The auction will be held at Heritage’s Beverly Hills offices on Sept. 12.  See this link to Heritage Auctions for more details.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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