Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Frazetta Interview

May 13, 2010

More on Frank Frazetta.. that Gary Groth just went up at “The Comics Journal” (ps: that self portraite is bad ass!)

Frank Frazetta Interview

Posted by Gary Groth on May 10th, 2010 at 5:57 PM

I met Frank Frazetta in the summer of ’71 when he and his wife Ellie drove to a convention I organized in Washington, DC, to exhibit his paintings. This was something of a coup at the time, since Frazetta rarely appeared publicly and even more rarely exhibited his original paintings; no one to this day, including myself, quite knows how I pulled it off. I only remember having the chutzpah to call him up and invite him, and that he accepted on the spot. I remember him and Ellie being as gracious as two people who just drove 250 miles could possibly be. Frazetta set up his paintings in a small, closely guarded meeting room off the main dealer’s room, hung out, and chatted amiably with fans. It was very relaxed, with the paintings on easels around the room. Fans could practically put their noses on the paintings and study them.

The word legendary is bandied about all too often in our hype-saturated world, but in Frazetta’s case, it’s apt. As an artist, he was by every account truly a prodigy; his drawing skill was breathtaking at an unspeakably young age. He could draw anything, including funny animals, but he excelled at sex and violence, which in his hands was an authentic expression of who he was, and not just a parroting or attempt at one-upmanship of media clichés, which the trope has since come to correctly and pejoratively imply. By saying that depicting sensuality and violence was an expression of who he was, I’m not saying Frazetta was violent -I don’t think he was, particularly— but he was a connoisseur of physicality, of athleticism, of the human body in extremis. He was extremely athletic himself in his youth and, I think, loved it at least as much as he loved drawing and painting. That’s what i mean by his drawing being an authentic —and unpretentious— expression of who he is; Frazetta is the real thing, as I hope this interview proves, whatever you may think of what that thing is.

This is not quite the interview I’d planned. The first interview session did not record, thanks to a malfunctioning phone-recording device. This was two hours spent methodically covering his career from boyhood art lessons through his early career in comics. Frazetta is not the kind of person to sit still and reiterate his career twice in a month, so the next three recording sessions that he graciously granted me were less structured and more improvisatory. I tried to sneak in some questions that we’d previously covered, but we talked more generally about his career, his influences, his upbringing, his love of drawing, and his eight-year bout with a misdiagnosed thyroid condition that damn near killed him.

I think it accurately reflects the kind of man and artist he is.

The interviews were conducted in November and December 1994. – Gary Groth

Feel No Pain

FRANK FRAZETTA: Didn’t you interview me as much as you wanted to a week ago?

GARY GROTH: Well, I met you over 20 years ago, so I think every 20 years we should do it.

How much longer do you think I’ve got here, pal? You’ve got to speed it up.

Hell, I think you’re good for a long time.

Oh, right.

You and Burne Hogarth.

Yeah, well, that guy can talk!

[Laughs.] He’s sort of to talking what you are to painting.

Oh. I like that — he’s a masterful talker. Where does he get the energy?

I don’t know. I talk to him once every couple of months and he never slows down. It’s like he’s constantly on speed or something.

Did you ever ask him why?

I never got up the courage! [Laughs.] You seem to me like an inordinately satisfied guy.

I’ve got my share of frustrations — sometimes more than most. But I don’t show it. I’m delighted with my art and my talent, sure; it has always come relatively easily and it’s had such an impact, of course I love that. You gotta like it. That doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered physically or psychologically at times. I get hurt, and it seems prolonged. I really believe the old cliché: artists are meant to suffer sometimes. A lot of people feel, because of my talent, I just float around on cloud nine and feel no pain.

That’s true.

They do think that: the grass is always greener on the other side.

You seem to be the sort of artist who has never suffered a single doubt in his life.

That appears so, and a lot of people envy me. But I probably suffer the most. Probably stemming from my ultra-sensitivity.

[Laughs.] Yeah, right.