I think like a lot of people, my first exposure to the art of Frank Frazetta was the old Lancer/Ace Conan paperback book covers. I think I was around 12 or 13 and had never heard of Conan and bought one of the books, I think Conan of Cimmeria, just because of the Frazetta cover alone. This was the kind of art I had never seen before...I mean it was obviously painted are done on canvas but up until that point, when I thought of paintings it was usually of portraits of sour looking people or perhaps some flowers or other pastoral setting, not anything like this dynamic painting. Here was this incredibly muscled warrior going toe-to-toe with two red-haired giants. I was hooked. I bought all the Conan books I could find and then found out Frazetta's art was sometimes on magazine covers like Eerie. When I got older I purchased Frazetta portfolios and posters, anything I could. And yet the man himself remained an enigma. I had no idea if Frazetta still lived or not...I had never even seen a picture of him. And that name...FRAZETTA! I mean it was like some ancient, mythological being. There was this incredible air of mystery about him. It wasn't until just a few years ago when I saw the outstanding documentary "Frazetta: Painting with Fire" that I finally learned about this renaissance man and about his long career that was still going strong despite suffering a stroke.
Now even if you've seen every piece of published art that Frazetta has ever done, you've never see the pieces that are contained in the pages of "Rough Work" published by Spectrum Presents. This book lifts the veil on Frazetta's work and shows how even the legendary master didn't just sit down at an easel and create his well-known fantasy masterpieces...it took many hours and practice tries to reach the final product and that's what you get to see in Rough Work. You get the unique opportunity to see the art BEFORE the final, published product. The sketches, the concept drawings, the preliminary and un-revised paintings as Frazetta carefully perfected each piece. Despite approaching his 80th birthday and retraining himself to draw and paint left-handed after his right side was partially paralyzed, Frazetta continues to turn out wonderful art.
As you browse through Rough Work, you'll see paintings that you know very well but you'll also be seeing them for the first time. You'll see Franks pencil sketch for "Back to the Stone Age" for the cover of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book that includes his hand-written notes. One of Frazetta's most famous Eerie magazine covers was the Egyptian Queen from issue #23. If you can, Google the cover and compare the preliminary painting in Rough Work, to the finished product. It's really amazing how much detail was put into the concept painting although it pales before the completed work. The basics are there but you'll note how Frazetta would add the subtle effects of lighting and shading to make this a true classic cover. This is a treasure trove of work that collectors would probably give anything to get their hands on...I mean imagine owning the rough to the cover of the great Karl Edward Wagner fantasy novel "Bloodstone" depicting his anti-hero Kane.
All of the great characters that Frazetta worked on over the years are covered in Rough Work including Conan, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Thongor, Kane, and even Battlestar Galactica. The work is presented in a variety of styles from rough pencil sketches, to watercolors, pen and ink, and oils. This is truly a whole new way to appreciate the art of Frank Frazetta
REVIEWED BY TIM JANSON
Three words: A Must Have!2007/11/29
I don't think I need to tell anybody what a great artist Frank Frazetta is. His different techniques, his compositions, simply fantastic. You can always tell when it's a Frazetta, but he will surprise you with every "new" piece of his art. I'd even say that without him the entire fantasy craze would probably still be in its infancy. Frank was the one artist who was able to really pull me into his worlds at a time when fantasy books were mostly published in paperback. And he hasn't aged a bit. He introduced me to strange worlds, great warriors and beautiful women like nobody else before or since. The book's 127 pages are filled with pencils, sketches, studies, both in color and in black and white. The introduction has 7 pages. From then on it's pure art. It's very interesting to study the concept art, and to discover what he changed for the final painting or illustration. Of course those are not included here (if you don't own them already, I strongly suggest you take a look at Legacy, Icon and Testament, the three marvellous hardcovers from Underwood Books). The book is a huge source of inspiration for painters and modellers but also for writers and anybody interested in the classic arts. As always with Spectrum Books the reproduction quality is first class.
Yet Another Fawning Compilation2008/1/2
James S. Hentschell
I am entranced by the skil of Frazetta. What is not necessary is the fawning, hyped swirl that surrounds this great art. The book is small in size, which means that a lot of art is not viewable due to the tight binding in the gutter. A little extra paper would have been a great help. The art is superb, as usual, and there is a large group of "roughs" that were new to me and demanded a breathless examination. Frazetta is a spectacular illustrator and his roughs bring out some of the arduous steps that were necessary to obtain the final work. As an amateur artist, this is a fine addition to my art book collection.
Good Book, Badly Designed2010/1/31
When are publishers going to get the fact that a two page spread, though it sounds nice, isn't a good idea? The fact that several nice pieces in this book are ruined by this makes me wonder how often the publishers actually look at their books. Not bad if you can get it cheap, nice for any Frazetta fan and makes a nice gift.
Hard to put down!!2007/10/7
Frazetta is without question a living legend in the annals of Science Fiction and Fantasy art. He's had many books devoted to his work, over the years, and all worth owning. This new book is quite special-it's a small "sketchbook" sized tome that contains something people rarely see-artist's sketches and concepts. Inside are the "seeds" of many legendary paintings. Sketches of apes, dinosaurs, dragons, warriors, John Carter, Conan...one gem after another. For the artist, and art student, it's a must-have book simply because the sketches show the thinking going on in Frazetta's process. Which is why these studies,color scribbles and "rough" work, are so good to see. Finished paintings are one thing, but the sketchbook work is amazing, because you see how the creative process happens. It's also got a great design that makes it "feel" and appear like an actual sketchbook, which adds another dimension to what is contained in it. I can't put it down!