Frazetta Takes On Playboy's "Little Annie Fanny"
Little Annie Fanny was a comics series that appeared in over 100 issues of Playboy October 1962 to September 1988. The series was created by Harvey Kurtzman who also created Mad Magazine. During a journey man period in the 1960s, Frazetta briefly assisted Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder with their Little Annie Fanny Strip. In order to secure the job, Frazetta had to try-out for Kurtzman & Elder to prove his style was compatible with theirs. Both Kurtzman and Elder were familiar with Frazetta's artwork so the "audition" was mostly for Hugh Hefner, who at the time, wasn't familiar with Frazetta's artwork.
Frazetta, of course, pulled through and painted the study in a lush and detailed style, adding a lot of beautifully blended colors, wonderful sexy energy, and a perfect "on model" rendition of Annie.
(Frazetta's "try-out" artwork, watercolor, 1960s)
Hugh Hefner approved the artwork immediately and later added it to his own collection. Soon after approval, Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth and Frank Frazetta got to work. Will Elder recalled renting a suite at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. He turned every light on in the suite and ordered large amounts of food and coffee. Together, they set up an assembly line type of arrangement: some of the guys were doing backgrounds, some were doing other details. They were all following Harvey's layouts. Harvey, a known perfectionist, was the last to make changes. He would review the work, make marks and send it back to the assembly line for improvements.
(Little Annie Fanny, Comic Art Illustration for The Surfers, Playboy. Frazetta drew the bathing beauties and Annie Fanny)
Although, the synergy of the group of artists was incredible, Frazetta's time working for the strip was short-lived. The story goes that when Frazetta was assisting on Annie Fanny, Hefner ended up changing his mind and not liking the changes Frazetta made on Annie's body. Supposedly, Hefner told Kurtzman and Elder not to use Frazetta for future projects. Later on in the early 2000s, Will Elder said the problem was never Hugh Hefner. In fact, Hefner always respected and admired Frazetta's artwork and never minded those changes on Annie Fanny. Elder and Kurtzman were the ones who didn't want to continue working with Frazetta. According to Elder, they worked completely differently from Frazetta. No surprise here, Frazetta was finishing his parts of the strip at the very last minute and left the other artists stressing and having to work around his schedule. Frazetta's procrastinating nature ended up leaving Elder and Kurtzman no time to make corrections. Elder said, "We loved Frank and we didn't have the heart to fire him, so we put the blame on Hef." Soon after Frazetta left the team, they replaced him with Russ Heath.
**Thank you to, Arnie Fenner for assistance with this blog.