Frazetta In Comics (1943 - 1950)
In 1944 Bailey Comics hired a young high school student to be John Giunta's art assistant. This new apprentice was sixteen-year-old Frank Frazetta. Frazetta reminisced his introduction to Giunita, “He really wasn't a personable guy. He was very aloof and hard to talk to but he was very talented. Being around him really opened up my eyes because he was really that good. He had an interesting style, a good sense of spotting and his blacks worked well. You can see a lot of his influence in some of my ink work.”
John Giunita was immediately impressed with Frazetta’s artwork and persuaded Bernard Bailey to publish a revised version of Frank’s personal comic strips,“Snowman.” Frazetta recalled, “All I did was one story. I was the kid who had created the character, and did the pencils. Giunta proceeded to really go over the pencils big time, and he did the inking. I was only a kid. I didn’t even know how it was done.” The 7 page story titled “Snowman” appeared in TALLY HO # in 1944. But, because of Frazetta’s limited participation, the story didn’t give Frank the recognition he had hoped for.
Following the publishing of ‘Snowman in Tally Ho #1,’ Giunita and Frazetta continued to collaborate with a few projects such as ‘Man in Black.’ After a short while of working with Bailey Comics, Frazetta began to feel slighted with his payments and left to find new work at Fiction House Comics. While working at Fiction House Comics, Frazetta met artists Graham Ingels, Bob Lubbers and George Evans. He was hired to assist them with tedious tasks around the studio which only lasted about six months. “There was nothing for me to do. They told me that I had great potential, but they canned me.” Frazetta was once again out of work but his determination helped him prevail. In 1946, Prize Publications gave Frazetta a chance to submit a solo story in TREASURE COMICS. The story; “Know Your America” was Frazetta’s first solo published work.
After a few small victories accompanied by many let downs, Frazetta continued to make his rounds. Frazetta knew his potential and didn’t allow others opinions determine his fate. “I didn’t give up. I visited Standard with my portfolio and, lo and behold, there was Graham Ingels, who just quit Fiction House and was now working as the Art Director at Standard.”
Ingels believed in Frazetta. He encouraged Frazetta and even went out on a limb for him anytime he had the chance. Once Ingels and Frazetta began working together at Standard, Ingels gave Frazetta a feature to start with, ‘Judy of the Jungle.’ Ultimately the editor at Standard wasn’t impressed. It took a few more months of background work before Standard asked Frazetta to help illustrate their funny animal books. Between the years 1947 through 1950 Frazetta worked diligently with Standard on 15 different titles. He began illustrating books like Barnyard, Coo Coo, Happy and Supermouse to name a few. But when Frazetta’s talent really began to bloom he was offered a nine page story for Exciting Comics, one of Standard’s action adventure titles.
Frazetta was also asked to provide a quarter page illustration for a “Looie Lazybones.” The response to Looie Lazybones persuaded Standard to create an ongoing series. These stories are credited as the ones that caught Al Capp’s attention.
To be continued...