Thursday, May 13, 2010

A final Frazetta tribute

This week over at The Cimmerian I join my fellow bloggers in praising the life and art of the late, great Frank Frazetta. It's my second post commemorating Frazetta's passing but my first for The Cimmerian audience, and in it I praise his ability to capture strength and muscular power in his drawings.

If you're interested, you can read the post here.


David J. West said...

Absolutely, no one personified indomitable strength like Frank.

Oh yeah, love Frazetta's Eowyn-never would have fooled anyone that she was a dude named Helm but who cares.

Andy said...

Frazetta gets a lot of crap from Tolkien fans over his illustrations but I really liked them. He brought an interesting sensuality and primal energy to subject matter that is usually thought of in terms of courtly romance.

Taranaich said...

Frazetta gets a lot of crap from Tolkien fans over his illustrations but I really liked them.

Many Tolkien fans are idiots. Half of the things that people think about LotR and Tolkien's universe run entirely counter to Tolkien's own words: androgynous snooty elves, blundering Scottish dwarves, gentility over heroism, Ents being "walking trees"... Not to mention the sheer power, horror, blood and thunder of Tolkien's work being obscured by twee "courtly romance" exemplified by the Hildebrandts. They didn't like McBride either, brought too much "machoness" to Tolkien. There's a reason I haven't joined a Tolkien forum yet.

While I have quibbles with Frazetta's Eowyn & Witch-King (really, the same sort of quibbles I have with his Conan) the sheer artistry of the work blows most "real" Tolkien illustrators away. Sure, he depicts Eowyn in... interesting attire, and the Witch-King is visible, but look at the lines, dammit! That's ART. Sure, there are inaccuracies, but nobody takes points off Caravaggio because he dresses his Romans in Renaissance plate armour.

Fritz' Gollum is fantastic. His Orcs are menacing, powerful and dangerous. His Bilbo looks great, like a small human, but suitably "different" to qualify as a Hobbit. And his Gandalf... Man. Just as Frazetta's Conan is pretty damn close to my mental image of Conan, Fritz' Gandalf is what I always imagine when reading about the Grey Pilgrim. A wisened old chap with a big bushy beard, but with his sleeves rolled up and pipe in mouth: this old buzzard means business.

Brian Murphy said...

David: True, I don't think the men of Rohan would have been fooled by that outfit. Those curves would have been hard to conceal on the long ride to the Pelennor Fields :).

Andy/Taranich: Agreed. Tolkien's works are full of mighty warriors. He didn't spend a lot of time on their description (his favorite adjective when describing such men was "tall"), so who's to say Frazetta's portrayal is wrong? Consider Turin, who slew or lopped the grasping hands and arms from 70 orcs on the battlefield before they brought him down. He must have been massive of limb to wield an axe like that, and at battle's end he was certainly soaked in blood and gore and sweat, his muscles bulging through rents in his armor. Now that would have made a fine Frazetta painting.

Taranaich said...

Very true: Tolkien left so much unsaid. We don't even know Legolas' hair colour. Hell, even Legolas was a mighty warrior:

'He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship.'

That doesn't sound like a skinny male model to me. I'd liken him to Solomon Kane's build, maybe even a young Conan. You don't get "immensely strong" without strong muscles, after all.

Also, just occurred to me: maybe Eowyn was wearing a skirt at the time, and when she took her helm off she took... something else off? :P

I just imagine the scene in my head.

"But no living man am I! You look upon a woman!"

*Witch-King stares*

"You don't say(!)"