Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice

I was sad to hear Monday that fantasy artist Frank Frazetta had passed away. He died of complications from a stroke at 82. I grew up in a very pro-fantasy household so Frazetta was a name I knew fairly early. I was thrilled when I first saw Fire & Ice, a rototoscoped collaboration between Frazetta and rogue animator Ralph Bakshi (though years later I definitely took issue with the villain).

I loved watching those cartoons run and fight so realistically. It was as if their monotone, ink-outlined flesh were real. With the rise of CGI, rototoscoping made less sense. There's no reason not to use real actors for fantastical stories now. If you're going for realism that is.

Fire and Ice was a unique picture when it premiered and we'll never see its like again. I suspect that its closest film relative is Sin City, another picture from a lone wolf director that explicity used an artist's style as entire guiding aesthetic force. With Sin City, the artist even got co-director status.

Fire and Ice flaunted it the most but it wasn't the only movie with a Frazetta connection. Frazetta designed movie posters, did comic books but most importantly his fleshy muscled/busty fantasy art (plentiful examples here) practically defined the modern look of the sword and sorcery genre (at least until The Lord of the Rings arrived) most famously, arguably with Conan. That property is currently getting a Schwarzenegger free reboot in 2011 but we're guessing it won't look that far removed from Frazetta's conception. You can see photos from the set here, here and here.

That's not the only upcoming movie that may owe Frazetta a large debt. There's also John Carter of Mars in 2012. That sci-fi/fantasy movie will star Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) and Lynn Collins (Wolverine) who both have the appropriately flawless bodies for their roles. Though the movie might well risk an R rating if they take Frazetta's barely clothing concepts too literally as aesthetic guide. The weird thing is that Mars is totally cold. Like freezing. Shouldn't they be dressed like eskimos?

Are you looking forward to either of these pictures or was Lord of the Rings you're only real fantasy fancy?

Further Reading
Austin Translation an art blog says goodbye to a hero


Janice said...

Admittedly Nat, as a girl growing up in the '70's and '80's, this was the sort of artwork I felt immensely uncomfortable seeing. But I know it's had a huge influence on a lot of males and their images of women - or rather, in the ways that women are depicted.


yes. well there was clearly a ton of objectification going on . But that was true for both sexes.

and objectifying the body didn't start with Frazetta of course but i see your point.

as long as people can separate fantasy from reality (which some people will always have trouble doing) i'm not sure that fantastical representations of bodies be they impossibly fit/muscled or impossibly curvy/busty do all that much harm.

still i agree that in some cases more variety would really help.

comic books also have this problem. All the men having muscles so gargantuan that each muscle must weigh as much as your average person and all the women having double ds and 18" waists.

it's silly