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2010 SKETCHBOOK (60 pages, black/white/tone, print run 100 copies)


Thursday, January 02, 2014

Frank Frazetta ... Russ Cochran ... Artist Edition

In the last 3 years I have been caught-up in the “Artist Edition” frenzy that got started by IDW with their reprinting of Dave Stevens’ “Rocketeer” from the original art boards. I already have an entry on this blog about my opinions about the origin of this trend (posted back in 2012), so I won’t repeat myself about that but I would like to write about a recent “discovery” on my part. Three weeks ago I was flipping through a Frank Frazetta book called “Icon”. Just getting inspired to try to push myself and try to do interesting art, and on one of the biographical text pages in the book, I saw a little insert reproduction of a cover for a publication called “Untamed Love”. Oh, sure "Untamed Love", I have a copy, published by Fantagraphics almost 30 years ago, reprinting Frazetta’s romance comics. Three or four stories, drawn by Frazetta in the 1950, that just blew my mind when I first read them. It is one of the few comics that I keep in an easily accessible drawer next to my drawing table. Incredible stuff for sure. But funny enough, the cover does not look familiar and as I read the text I realize that this is something different. A quick search on the web and…it turns out Russ Cochran, back in 1970s produced two oversize black and white Frazetta reprints. First, “Untamed Love”, collecting four Frazetta romance stories from the 1950’s shot from the originals that Frazetta had (stored in his closet no less). Second, was the collection of all the Thunda stories drawn by Frazetta also shot from originals (also stored in Frazetta’s closet). Both editions are oversized, bigger than modern magazines (but regretfully not the full size of the original artwork). Years later, Fantagraphics used these editions to produce comic book sized colorized versions of the same stories that I am familiar with.
I thought that these must be obscure, limited print runs that are impossible to find and must be worth hundreds of dollars at this point. Right? Wrong! Just for the fun of it, I went to e-Bay (but of course) and searched for them to see if maybe I can find a ripped-up copy without a cover for a decent price. I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. After about a week of looking through different listings I was able to purchase both, “Untamed Love” and “Thunda”, collections for about $30 each. Both have arrived and they are in great shape with no missing pages, coffee stains, or ripped covers. $60 is nothing to sneeze at, but considering that this is as close to a Frazetta Artist Edition that I am likely to ever come…I am very happy I found these, and I recommend for anyone who is into Artist Editions to check them out!
Another interesting note. In an art book called "Frank Frazetta: Testament", there is a wonderful reprint of another Frazetta romance story. It is also shot from originals and is reproduced in a wonderful gray scale that shows every brush stroke. Regretfully the last page must have been lost because it is clearly NOT reproduced from the original artwork. This must have been the reason why it is not included in the original "Untamed Love" collection. If I could find a cheap copy of "Testament", I would be happy to rip the pages out and hard bind my own copy with all 5 stories in one book :)


inkdestroyedmybrush said...

i think that you've become obsessed with the artists editions! Still, this is exactly why i held on to the black and white red nails edition, so that i could see the original line work. who knew that printers who were too cheap to spring for color would be the saving grace for so many of us artists today?

Alex Sheikman said...

That is kind of funny. Back in 1970s (and even 80s), color was the Holy Grail of publishers because they wanted to be like the "big two". Now with Artist Editions black and white is starting to gain some respect...maybe in a few years we will get an explosion of well crafted, black and white publications!