Each week I try to choose a theme and bring you images and stories related to that theme. It’s not quite This American Life but hey, you do what you can. This week I’m looking at some of my favorite zombie-related art.
Frank Frazetta is hands down one of my favorite illustrators of all time. I grew up seeing his fantasy illustrations in reprinted comic books, on book covers and all over the place in pop culture like album covers and on posters. I actually spent years convinced his name was Frank Franzetta because it was just an easy thing to say. I’ve heard lots of other people make that mistake too so don’t be fooled. What always struck me about his artwork was how unique yet universal his images and figures appeared. They were the typical muscular male figures and curvaceous beauties so popular in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Yet when you look at a Frazetta illustration you know it. There is a sort of dynamic energy that stands out about his work. A real mastery of story telling through imagery that makes his artwork easy to ape and hard to equal.
Take a look at some of what’s going on in this illustration alone.
One thing that jumps out at me right away is how close the zombie is to this inexplicably half naked woman. When we consider them looking at each other we find the line of sight doesn’t quite match up. Sure her eyes MIGHT be rolled down a little to look at the thing but look how she reaches out as if to something far away or in shock. Now consider how close her right foot is to the zombies’ hands. By any sort of spacial reasoning her left hand should be over the zombies head.
By separating the figure sand shrinking the zombie, the whole image makes much more sense. What’s brilliant here is that Frazetta was able to fool our eyes so beautifully. When we first look at the image we don’t notice the complete lack of spacial sense. In fact that altered space helps draw the figures together in our eyes and ramps up not only the visual tension but the feeling that the woman is about to get grabbed!
Now consider where he has placed his darkest darks. There are a few other spots throughout the image like the base of the woman’s foot and the zombies knee. But our main two dark spots are on the zombies body and the woman’s rear end.
Those darks help reinforce the shape that’s made drawing and holding these two figures together. Take a look at this lovely figure 8 formed by the woman’s hips, her center of gravity and the zombie’s shoulders and chest, his center of gravity.
See here too how the visual tension is built with all the visual cues in the image leading us to the center of the image.
It’s that sort of thing that makes Frazetta’s images not just pretty pictures of busty babes threatened by otherworldly horrors but brilliant illustrations worth spending some time exploring.
If you want to do a bit more exploring yourself, head on over to the Frank Frazetta website to find out a bit more about this Brooklyn-born illustrator.
From the website:
Frank Frazetta (February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010)
Frazetta was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of eight, at the insistence of his school teachers, Frazetta’s parents enrolled him in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. He attended the academy for eight years under the tutelage of Michele Falanga, an award-winning Italian fine artist. Falanga was struck by Frazetta’s significant talent. Frazetta’s abilities flourished under Falanga, who dreamed of sending Frazetta to Europe, at his own expense, to further his studies. Unfortunately, Falanga died suddenly in 1944 and with him, his dream. As the school closed about a year after Falanga’s passing, Frazetta was forced to find work to earn a living.
At 16, Frazetta started drawing for comic books that varied in themes: westerns, fantasy, mysteries, histories and other contemporary themes.