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Connections: Frank Frazetta and Drazen Kovacevic

Some might call this a swipe; others, an homage. But would anybody in their right mind dare to claim that the following two paintings are similar by mere happenstance? I sure hope not…

Either way, swipe or homage, Frazetta’s virtuoso draftsmanship, effortless skill at composition, and expressive paint handling make Kovacevic’s anemic cover-version look like the work of a rank amateur. Or, to put it another way, every change Kovacevic makes to Frazetta’s original is for the worse.

Keywords: The Rider, La Roue, Burroughs Bulletin.

5 thoughts on “Connections: Frank Frazetta and Drazen Kovacevic

  1. I assume you’ve seen this “Tomahawk” splash:
    If I recall correctly, in an interview in COMIC BOOK ARTIST #7, Dan Atkins discussed Larry Ivie presenting swipe slideshows at conventions, presumably in the late 60s and early 70s. Atkins mentions Jeff Jones swiping figures from Frazetta comics for his paperback covers. Have you seen anything to support this?
    I’m working from memory, so I may be totally off-base.


  2. Is this the interview you’re thinking of, Michael?

    Dynamite Dan Adkins
    On his years at Tower and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. contributions
    From Comic Book Artist #14

    CBA: Do you recall meeting Larry Ivie for the first time?

    Dan: I lived with the guy my first two weeks in New York. I was his roommate. That’s how I know he had nothing to do with Wally, because Wally kept saying, “Who the hell is this guy?” [laughter] At the time, Larry Ivie and Tim Battersby – who committed suicide at 19, I think – and Ralph Reese were all good friends. They were all lying their asses off in the fanzines about what they were doing on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents! And Wally was madder than hell! But he was trying to help Ralph, because Ralph had problems at the time – he was only 15 – and Wally was an alcoholic (who was on the wagon at the time) and he was always trying to help Ralph, but Ralph would come over there, and he wouldn’t even know who in the hell Wally was some of the time! He kept calling him Larry! [laughter] Anyway, at a science-fiction convention, Larry Ivie showed this slide show, and he had my stuff and Virgil Finlay and a bunch of guys, he was showing our swipes, or sources. Like when Virgil Finlay would swipe from the Saturday Evening Post or something, he’d show that. He’s show me swiping Frazetta or someone. So, I wasn’t at the convention, but I heard this from Steve Stiles, so I went up to see Larry and talk it over, “What the hell are you doing, smearing my name?” [laughs] This wasn’t the first time, he was also writing letters to Celia Goldsmith, who was the editor at Amazing Stories, and she would show me the letters from Larry Ivie, where he would show my swipes and stuff to her. And then, he would show her how to draw! [laughs] He would point out, “This is comic book art, this is illustration, this is fine art,” he would do examples. She was saying, “You’ve got to straighten Larry Ivie out! I don’t need this!” [laughs] So, he was working for Galaxy at the time, doing a couple of illustrations for Galaxy, but I don’t think he ever worked for Amazing. Anyway, I went up to talk to Larry, because he was writing Celia letters, and he was running me down….

    CBA: Bad-mouthing you?

    Dan: Yeah, at the conventions…. He put me in good company! He was showing Krenkel, [laughs] and everybody. I knew that Larry was always broke, so I stopped at the corner pharmacy to get sandwiches and sodas for both of us, and so I went up there, and I said, “Do you want this tuna fish and the soda?” He said, “I’ll take the soda, put the tuna fish in the refrigerator.” I went over to the refrigerator, opened it up, and it’s empty! Completely empty, except for one little upside-down clay dinosaur, on a rack down there! It’s only as big as your hand. This is from one of the little movies he used to make, stop-motion movies. I just couldn’t argue with the guy, I couldn’t do it that day. [laughter] Other stories, like we’d have parties, and Larry would give parties, and all kinds of people would show up, and I don’t know if you know who Marvin Frenzel was, but Marvin was sitting over in the corner – this was during hippie time, in the ’60s – and Marvin was playing with cooked spaghetti with his feet! [laughs] He had a plate there, and he was playing with spaghetti with his feet! That’s the kind of people that showed up at Larry Ivie’s.

    Here’s where Adkins mentions Jones:

    Jeff Jones came into the city a month or two after I left Wally. He helped me on a couple of science-fiction illustrations. He also helped me on a Not Brand Echh! story by… geez, it was Magnus, Robot Fighter… [laughs] Don Heck! You know, Jeff Jones helped me ink some Don Heck. It’s all very strange, because you meet so many people.

    Notice that Adkins doesn’t accuse Jones of swiping figures from Frazetta. And I have to say, I’ve never seen any evidence of it — except for this, which isn’t much, and might not be anything at all. I’ve also posted evidence that Jones swiped at least once from Al Williamson, but Jones apparently had pointed that one out to various people himself over the years. Which is to say, it was no secret.

    Adkins is still alive, btw. Why not contact him and ask him directly if he knows anything about Jones swiping from Frazetta?


  3. BTW, I just went back and took a quick look at the Dan Adkins interview in Comic Book Artist #7, and I can’t find any mention of Jeff Jones or Larry Ivie. Adkins does, however, admit that he himself had no qualms about swiping from anyone, though he definitely didn’t like it when others drew attention to and expressed their disapproval of his actions:

    CBA: You had a reputation for swiping.

    Dan: When I started out, Wally had loads of reference to work with that went way back; but I would swipe from something that came out a couple of months ago when I was first starting, and I still hadn’t made up my mind whether it was bad to swipe or not. It’s bad to swipe the way I did, and it’s certainly bad to swipe the way Rich Buckler did, but somehow, when Esteban Maroto swipes from Gil Kane, he gets away from [sic] it. I adored Marie Severin who used to kid me about my swiping.

    CBA: So, if you could do it again, you’d do it differently?

    Dan: I just did it to meet the deadlines, it was so hard, without swiping.

    CBA: Many artists have historically swiped from Foster or Lou Fine, or [sic] instance…

    Dan: Wally did it, but of course, when Wally and I were through with it, it looked like Wally!

    CBA: But your swipes were from pretty current material.

    Dan: They were current, and there wasn’t much changing; but a lot of it was like when you take Tarzan and you’d put Dr. Strange’s costume on him. I was actually redrawing it, and just stealing the pose. That’s mostly what I swiped for — so I didn’t have to think up the poses and I didn’t have to repeat myself so much, using the same poses. It’s hard for me to draw.

    And here’s a bit more:

    CBA: What was the highpoint of your career?

    Dan: Well, my Warren work was probably the peak of my creativity. What was not so creative was the swiping. You get a reputation and it’s too bad you can’t erase it, I guess, because you do get to be a better artist later on, and overcome most of that. Those guys wrote the articles about me and swiping in the fanzines — there was one called “Dan Adkins and the Amazing Tracing Machine” by Jim Vadeboncoeur — I’d be glad to sit down and draw to make it up… I could back then, too, but I don’t think I particularly cared to. I guess I’ve always felt guilty about swiping. I don’t think I’d do anything like that nowadays. I’ve learned how to draw, and how to meet deadlines! If you try, you can avoid situations where you have to do things too fast, and can take your time.


  4. Thanks for your prompt and detailed response; that’s the interview that I was thinking of. Judging from the fact that about the only thing I had right was the title of the magazine, it’s safe to say that my memory blurred adjacent anecdotes together.


  5. No problem, Michael. Happens to the best of us. BTW, if you discover that Jones really did swipe figures from Frazetta’s comics for his (Jones’s) paperback covers, please feel free to post again with the details. Just because I haven’t noticed it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and if it did happen, I don’t see any reason why it should be kept a secret.


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