Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Number 1822: The Outlaw Frazetta

Frank Frazetta did this Western crime story for Outlaws #9 (1949). The artwork is not up to the standards he achieved later, yet is interesting as much for what is wrong as what is right. I am looking at the hat on Boone Marlow in the splash panel, which is perched awkwardly on his head. I am also aware of what a prairie looks like (as in “Prairie Jinx,” the story’s title), and yet the drawings in this story are set in the mountains. Maybe Frazetta, being a Brooklyn boy, didn’t have first-hand knowledge of the difference.

Boone, the bad man, is a psychopath who has allegiance to no one, including his own brothers. He also doesn’t know his right from his left, which is probably why he is a “jinx.” He is bad luck for the rest of the gang. Dumb people will do that to others engaged in a criminal enterprise.

Born in 1928, Frazetta was about 20 or 21 when he drew it. As we all know, he got much better over his distinguished career.


Daniel [] said...

You nailed it, Pappy.

Finished work that were flawless would us almost nothing about the mental processes that went into its creation. Mistakes are revealing; and, if we know that an artist went on to become as masterful as Frazetta, there is surely something revealed by the distinctions between what he did well from early stages and where he was then still struggling.

Someone with a keener understanding than I of the relationship between visual representation and cognition could probably infer some deep principle to convey to illustrators or to teachers of illustration.

Daniel [] said...

Meanwhile, the actual story of the Marlows proves to be rather more interesting than that told in the comic book!

Pappy said...

Daniel, it actually makes me like Frazetta more when I see mistakes, because as genius as he was, he wasn't perfect. Had I been his editor for that art job I would have recommended he do some research on the differences between a prairie and a mountain range (his mountains in this story are from his imagination), but his staging is good and his human anatomy is fine. There are flashes of the dynamic Frazetta that pop out of the panels. I just assume from looking at the pages that he didn't use references. Maybe he had a real tight deadline.

Thanks for the link to the story of the Marlows. The caption of the photo shows me I have something in common with them. I also spent time in Ft Sill, Oklahoma when I was training as an artillery cannoneer in early 1967. As soon as I got to my duty station in Germany I was assigned to a typewriter rather than a howitzer.

Alicia American said...

OMG I wish I culd drawer as bad as ur pal Frank yo OMG! Say if he's 21 like u say, mayB we culd go out so pls giv him my digits, Pappity xoxoxoxoxo

Pappy said...

Alicia, whereever Frank is now, if he happens to see your note perhaps he will pay you a visit.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Funny... I had a training as an artilleryman also (anti aircraft), but i ended up working as a radio operator and finally as caretaker of a radio depot. :)
The Stetson hat is bad, ok, I daresay the horses are not that good too in this early Frazetta story... but then, looking at the overall outcome, you hardly remember that this IS an early attempt.

Pappy said...

J D, of course Frazetta went through a learning curve like everyone else, but he had a definite gift. He was sent to art school as a child because he was so gifted.

When I reported to my permanent duty station in Nuremberg, Germany in 1967 I think my top sergeant figured I'd be of less danger to my comrades if I was given a typewriter rather than put with a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer crew. As it turned out when we went on field maneuvers I was handed an entrenching tool (fancy nomenclature for a folding shovel) and a .50 caliber machine gun, told to dig a foxhole and stand guard on the perimeter. They even gave me bullets for the machine gun, but I never got to shoot it.

In the summer of 1968 we went on maneuvers. When we were done my machine gun and entrenching tool — and me — were left behind to help other units, while my unit went back to the post in Nuremberg. I was on a mountaintop in Southern Germany for 45 days, sitting in a foxhole, dragging my machine gun back to an improvised barracks every night. The other units that needed help never arrived, so I was on my own with a few other stragglers who were left to do some cooking and cleanup. I thought of it as a way of my sergeant getting rid of me for six weeks. Many times while sitting in my foxhole (often in the rain and mud) I had a yearning to cut loose with my .50 cal, shooting into some nearby woods. I fought back that impulsive desire, because I was sure if I did some officer would be skulking through the woods and I might shoot him. I was also sure that if I fired even one .50 caliber round it would have been accounted for in an inventory and I would be punished. At that late stage of my military career, with an honorable discharge and home and hearth beckoning me, I decided not to try any funny business.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

The only good thing in being caretaker of the radio warehouse was that I managed to skip maneuvers. Thanks for sharing memories.

Pappy said...

J D, when I came back off that foxhole-machine gun duty my time left in the Army was about 60 days, so I was replaced as clerk and put to work sorting out Army Field Manuals in what was called the Training Room. That relieved me from any other duties. A really great gig, I thought. All I did was sit in a room and read all day.