I’ve never thought much of Frazetta’s line-and-watercolour painting, Tarzan Meets La of Opar, which, rumour has it, originally featured Tarzan naked with an erect penis. (According to a Frazetta friend who claims to have witnessed the event, the artist edited the painting before he sold it to an insistent collector.) Although Frazetta’s “true fans” have a tendency to turn cartwheels of joy over every jot of ink and tittle of paint that flowed from their hero’s pens and brushes, the colour scheme, the physical types, the awkward body language of La (with one arm, one hand, and both feet completely hidden from view!), the composition, none of it here is prime Frazetta in my humble opinion.
I think the picture begins to make more sense, however, if one sees it as Frazetta’s attempt to absorb the influence of the amazingly prolific Australian cartoonist, illustrator, painter, sculptor, etc., etc., Norman Lindsay. The connection here, if there is one, would have been made possible by Frazetta’s friend, mentor, and educator in art history, Roy Krenkel, who was himself a true fan of Lindsay and so almost certainly would have brought the man’s art to Frazetta’s attention.
Anyway, so you might look and decide for yourself what’s what, here’s Frazetta’s modest effort sandwiched between two of Lindsay’s epic watercolours:
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
I suppose some people will think I’ve gone pretty far out on a limb here. But I don’t think I have. Many commentators over the years have parroted that line that, of course, Norman Lindsay influenced Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta. Only trouble is, few if any have ever seen fit to get down to cases and count the ways. Why be so timid? Half the fun of looking at pictures involves learning from others, and attempting to suss out for oneself, the various pathways of influence, both obvious and devious, from one artist to another, from one art form to another.