Connections · Frank Frazetta · Heads Up!

Heads Up: Frank Frazetta’s “White Indian”

Both Vanguard Productions and Dark Horse have announced a reprint of White Indian. One will almost certainly see the light of day; the other may not.

From Dark Horse’s October solicitations:

THE CLASSIC COMICS ARCHIVES VOLUME 1: WHITE INDIAN
Frank Frazetta (A)
On sale Dec 1
FC, 200 pages
$49.99
HC, 7″ x 10″

The longest comic-book run of Frank Frazetta’s career! First appearing as a backup feature in Durango Kid in 1949, Dan Brand–known as the “White Indian”–is a colonial-era city boy whose life is marred by tragedy. When the death of his fiancée sends Brand through the wilderness on a trek to kill her murderer, he also begins a journey that will transform him into a hardened pioneer survivalist. The powerful sequential work of Frank Frazetta is in the spotlight in this collection, with all interior pages scanned from original comic-book issues and digitally cleaned.

• This collection reprints all of Frank Frazetta’s White Indian work in an affordable hardcover format!

Here’s a tiny JPEG of the Vanguard cover:

Notice how Frazetta’s name is absent from the Dark Horse cover and prominently displayed at the top of the Vanguard cover: I doubt that was simply an oversight on Dark Horse’s part… Frazetta’s name is also absent from the cover of the Dark Horse Thun’da reprint, which, btw, is available in stores now.

Anyway, here’s the news about the Vanguard Productions reprint, as reported at ICv2:

Vanguard to Release Frazetta’s ‘White Indian’
Complete Collection

Published: 07/12/2010, Last Updated: 07/13/2010 05:30am

Frazetta Management and Vanguard Productions announced that Vanguard will be releasing all of the Dan Brand/White Indian material, originally published in the 1950’s by Magazine Enterprises, as part of its new Vanguard Frazetta Classics line. White Indian represents Frazetta’s longest artistic run on a single comic feature.

The Complete White Indian Collection is Volume 2 of the Frazetta Classics line. Volume 1 will be The Complete Johnny Comet which will feature dailies reproduced from Frazetta’s own personal proofs and Sunday pages collected in color for the first time as well as a new essay by William Stout (see “Vanguard Plans Adams, Frazetta Books”). Vanguard Publisher J. David Spurlock said, “Both volumes are well into production now with more Vanguard volumes to come.”

Seems straightforward enough — except that, according to Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool, Vanguard publisher David Spurlock has made a statement, on the record, that appears to assert Vanguard’s exclusive right to the Frazetta material:

Vanguard [writes Spurlock] will release WHITE INDIAN Vol 1 by Frazetta, and Dark Horse will do WHITE INDIAN ARCHIVES Vol 2 of all all the other White Indian material.

[More details about Spurlock’s statement here from Chris Marshall, who, it turns out, is the intrepid blogger who “got it from the horse’s mouth.”]

Now, as far as I am aware, Dark Horse has not yet confirmed (or denied) the arrangement, though, of course, if Frazetta’s White Indian material has dropped into the public domain, it won’t matter what sort of exclusive contract Vanguard signed with Frazetta before he died, Dark Horse will be free do as they please. Truth be told, however, I really don’t know what’s going on between Vanguard and Dark Horse.

(Why Dark Horse would want to publish a Frazetta-less hardcover sequel to another publisher’s Frazetta reprint is beyond me!)

What I do know for sure, however, is that Frazetta fans will soon have at least one, and possibly two, hardcover reprints of White Indian to add to their collections within a few months. So, hooray for that!

UPDATE (added 11 August 2010):

Wherein I answer the question, “Where have I seen those covers before?”

The Dark Horse White Indian cover was the cover of White Indian #11, published in 1953:

frank-frazetta_white-indian-n11-1953

The Vanguard was the cover of the White Indian reprint published by Pure Imagination in 1981. Here’s a scan of the copy that usually sits on a shelf, along with a lot of other books, mostly by Corben, about a metre and a half from my keyboard:

frank-frazetta_white-indian_pure-imagination-1981

Looks like Vanguard had the drawing recoloured for the new reprint. Big mistake, IMHO. (Anyone know why they changed the redcoat into a bluecoat?)

ANOTHER UPDATE:

You’ll have to read the discussion in the comments section of this post to find out why the following is important. The full page is page one of White Indian #11:

frank-frazetta_white-indian-n11 p01
frazetta-vs-bolle-or-powell

What fun! Now I get to file this post under “Connections“!

9 thoughts on “Heads Up: Frank Frazetta’s “White Indian”

  1. Wow, just like THUN’DA, another white guy to show the natives how it’s done! I say that completely tongue-in-cheek, or course. In that era of segregation, these were just a few among the many comics, books, radio shows, movies, etc. that in this P.C. era would be decried as racist-imperialist fantasies…and I can’t say the detractors are 100% wrong. Frank Frazetta’s art looks great, but the editorial viewpoint of these comics is very much of its time.

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  2. Terrific! Now you’ll have to excuse me while I go and delete the pathetically tiny file I posted before and upload the shiny big new one.

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  3. Looking at the two covers, I almost wonder if the art were retouched. How could a bad photostat make the principal characters eyebrows and teeth change THAT much? And I believe Vanguard’s is truer to the original art.

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  4. They’re two different drawings of the same scene, Chris. The Dark Horse cover was the cover of White Indian #11, published in 1953, and the Vanguard was the cover of the White Indian reprint published by Pure Imagination in 1981. If you look carefully, you’ll see LOTS of small and large differences between them. Two big differences: the Vanguard has white soldier in a blue uniform at the centre right, between the central figure with the upraised tomahawk and the guy with the elaborate headdress and a knife in his left hand; there’s no soldier, and no guy with a headdress and a knife in his left hand in the Dark Horse but just more native warriors, the largest of which has a couple of feathers in his hair a knife in his right hand; also, look in the foreground, the Dark Horse has a big shield at the right, next to the guy on the ground, but there’s no shield in the Vanguard. And, again, there’s lots more where that came from. BTW, I hate the colouring on the Vanguard cover, not that the Dark Horse is much better, but the Vanguard is too wishy-washy, too enamoured of perfunctory modelling and not respectful enough of shadows and the local colours of things.

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  5. Glad that both Dark Horse and Vanguard could come to an agreement. I just hope they collaborate on getting the volume to appear similar they way that DC and Dark Horse did on the Spirit Archives.
    Thanks for the kind words, RC!

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  6. I’m always happy to give credit where credit is due, Chris. Keep up the great work on your podcast and blog, and thanks for stopping by to check out RCN and leave a comment!

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  7. Could it be, then, that Frazetta’s signed art (which Vanguard is using) was the original art for WHITE INDIAN #11 in 1953, but that the publisher had Frank Bolle (another artist who worked on the title) re-ink it to make the linework simpler and bolder for the original publication?

    Bear in mind that when Frazetta made the rounds in the early ’60s to get back into comics that Stan Lee told him his work looked “old fashioned” (and not at all like the bouncy, bold work of Kirby-Ditko in that era of ‘Marvel Pop-Art Productions’).

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  8. Well, Chris, that’s an interesting question. According to an archived auction at ha.com — which handles a lot of Frazetta art and related material — the cover of White Indian #11 is by Bob Powell. But over at comics.org, you’ll find the following note: “Gary Watson disputes that Frank Frazetta was responsible for this cover or that the scratchy lines in the grass are his signature, August 2008. He identifies the artist as Frank W. Bolle.” Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing which of these attributions is correct, or if the artist, whoever he is, had Frazetta’s signed drawing available to trace, or what…

    But wait a minute… I just noticed that the “Indian” with the knife and the shield in the upper right of the White Indian #11 cover is swiped from the first panel inside the comic, which we know was by Frazetta; the figure is based on Frazetta’s drawing of Dan Brand, who, knife in hand, is leaping out at a gun-wielding bad guy. Hm… there’s a lot of weak drawing in that #11 cover too, especially the faces of the secondary characters, and as you say, Chris, the inking does seem a bit heavy handed for Frazetta (though the interior inking, at times, also seems a bit heavy handed for Frazetta)… so…

    It seems to me that the preponderance of evidence we’ve uncovered so far suggests that the cover was redrawn by someone other than Frazetta and that the image was based on a combination of Frazetta’s signed drawing and his interior art. And if I had to guess why, I’d say it was probably because some editor thought the main character in the signed drawing was off model, though neither cover shows Dan Brand exactly as he appears in the interior art.

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