Telling Stories: The Classic Comic Art of Frank Frazetta Hardcover – Sep 1 2008
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
On the plus side though, there is much in here that is amazing which I've never seen before. We get many complete issues of his best stories, like his Romance tales and the full 1st issue of Thun'da. The art is printed on very high quality paper: very thick and glossy. We even get a page separator strip. The new coloring is very nice and doesn't obscure the penwork at all by being too dark. I'm glad they didn't try any PC color alterations of the African savages. The essayist does condemn Frazetta for the racism in some of his images, but the art remains untampered with.
But I don't see how they can find room for a full page of a Jack Kirby Capt. America sketch, and not include all the Buck Rogers and Ghost Rider covers, which to me form the cornerstone of Frazetta's comic work.
I also question the quality of the source material for "A Love of My Own." It seems to have originally been done in pencil with color on top, but the pages look like they've been copied into black ink line so it causes a lot of broken feathering lines. I figured this by looking at pg 8 of the story which is in the original pencil and it looks so beautiful! Luckily I didn't notice this with any of the other stories.
So for me, this is definitely worth the money. I don't regret buying it at all. But I think there is much more great Frazetta comic work out there which I feel should have been included.
But why was someone who is obviously not a fan or scholar given the privilege of choosing the content? As already observed, several of his best covers are missing, and the lesser choices are puzzling! Why so many of those Korean War stories with the heavy-handed brush work? They're all interesting, but several Dan Brand/White Indian stories would've been far better; "River Gauntlet" would've been a far better choice than the two Dan Brand stories featured, as it showcases Frazetta's underappreciated story-telling ability. A volume 2 seems unlikely, since all of the major classics were included here.
I was really hoping that some unpublished comic art would've made it; the splash from what must've been his last story for Heroic Comics was shown, postage stamp size, in one of Jerry Weist's books on original art, and looked positively awesome, but the editor apparently made no attempt to find anything special like that.
Finally, some of the art looks a bit restored, and as for the coloring, I'll bet the publisher was not even aware that Frazetta originally colored his final romance masterpiece "Untamed Love" when it was published, but that color scheme appears not to even have been consulted.
The book is worth having if this is all we're ever going to get, but like all those books edited by the Fenners, with their tiny reproductions of choice works, it's a frustrating exercise in what could have been, had only someone who really loved and knew the history of Frazetta's comics career been put in charge. Let's just hope that the definitive book is still in our future.
What's wrong can be summed up pretty easily; the interior reproduction and choices leave a lot to be desired. There's virtually none of the gray scale reproductions that come from reproducing the original art. There's probably not much of the original art handy but then the reproduction could have been handled better than just copied from what looks like old acetate. The colors are not very exciting either. Some of the colors look like they come from those Fantagraphics reprints of Thunda and the Love Stories comic reprints. Then, for most of us older collecters, a good deal of this is old hat, we've seen most of this before and, sometimes, with better reproductions. For the price of this I was hoping to see a slimmer volume with better paper. While I like the actual reprints of the comics some seem pedestrian in their focus on things like public service stories and heroic war stories that are short and look rushed.
I won't say the book is bad. It's nice enough. It certainly could have been better like those quality Russ Cochran reprints released ages ago (and getting more expensive by the day) only printed in hard cover.
For the new Frazetta fans this is likely to be both gorgeous (by today's ever lessening standards) and an introduction to a lot of Frazetta's work that has never been seen in their generation.
The cover on the slipcase is also not a good choice from that series of Famous Funnies covers. Why not the image of the exploding shards of black rocks with the spacemen caught in the blast (just the design is head and shoulders over the one used) or the great underwater scene with the spaceman blasting the huge octopus with his ray gun while the woman's being dragged to her doom by the gripping tentacle? The cover of the book is a great choice but the colors are so dark most of the incredible linework is lost.
I hope there is a follow-up and that some subtlety is added. There's little doubt that the source material is likely to be old and hard to improve on at the printers. At the very least hand coloring the art might add something to it and provide a more organic look for the linework as well as a richer color palette.
What's Marie Severin up to these days? Does she have a willing protege schooled under her tutelage?