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Weird Science-Fantasy #29

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Frank Frazetta's Weird Science Fantasy #29

Considered by many comic art fans to be the finest comic book cover of all time, Frank Frazetta's "Weird Science-Fantasy #29" artwork was almost left unpublished. The cover was drawn in 1954, in Boston, while Frazetta was working at Al Capp's studio. After everyone else had left for the day, Frazetta stayed to draw and ink his final Buck Rogers cover for Famous Funnies. He finished the entire work in one night. The next day, Frazetta proudly presented the Buck Rogers cover to Steve Douglass, an editor at Famous Funnies. To Frazetta's surprise, they rejected it. "I was doing these covers for the Famous Funnies group and they loved it,  but they rejected my last cover because they said it was too violent." In 1954, the comic industry was changing due to the new comics code. Censorship in comics was at its height so Famous Funnies (Eastern Color) chose to play it safe with their decision.

26-year-old Frazetta, tenacious as ever, knew that this was his best work and was determined to have it published. That same day he drove over to meet with Bill Gaines of Mad Magazine. "So O.K. it was rejected, but I was in New York  so I decided to stop by and show Bill Gaines. He absolutely went berserk!" Gaines shouted, "I gotta use this cover! I gotta!" Frazetta responded, "I can't Bill. I would love it if you'd use it but I can't because you would own the art." Frazetta knew how incredible his work was and couldn't part with the original under any circumstances, but they met half way and made a deal. Frazetta proposed, "I'll tell ya what I'll do. I'll settle for half the pay, but I own the art." Gaines roared with laughter and shook Frazetta's hand.  Gaines ended up saving $30 while Frazetta held on to the artwork. This holds the distinction of being the only artwork that Gaines agreed to buy the rights to without owning the original art.

To transform the art from Buck Rogers to Weird Science-Fantasy #29, two changes were made, Buck Roger's helmet to hair and adding hair to one of the primitive men. These changes were done with paste overs, which were removed when Frazetta received the art back.  After Frazetta passed away, the original artwork was sold to a private collector. To the best of our knowledge, the last time this original art was exhibited to the public was during The Art of EC Comics exhibit in 2016 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon, courtesy of the current owner, Jim Halperin. The original work measures 14.5 x 22.25 inches. 

1 comment

  • Mark Howell Hayes: December 08, 2021

    I own very few original E.C. Comics, but I do have a copy of this one! Picked it up at a comic convention back in the nineties when I was a comic book shop owner.

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