Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Note from PulpFest

PulpFest this year was far less eventful for me than last year's show. I found a few books and magazines to add to my collection. I also found a couple of items for my research about my home state of Indiana and its connection to the pulps. And I saw a magazine cover that made me think of a recent comment from one of my readers who asked me to post images of all of the swipes Frank Frazetta made in his artwork. That's not something I can do, of course, as I don't know about all the swipes Frazetta might have made in his long career. All I can do is look at Frank Frazetta's swipes and possible swipes--of which there are few by my estimate--and the swipes other artists made of his work--of which there are hundreds, if not thousands--and do this only as I find them.

And I found one, maybe, at PulpFest:

Here is the cover of Adventure for March 1931 (first) with a cover by Leonard Cronin. When I saw this image, I couldn't help but think of a painting by Frank Frazetta:
His cover painting for Atlan by Jane Gaskell (1968).

So is that a swipe? I don't think anyone can say for sure. In art, there is the concept of rhythm, that is, a repetition of elements so as to give a sense of movement. A pack of wolves lends itself to a rhythmic treatment, as in these two images. All are wolves, but each is slightly different from the rest of the pack. Together they give an impression of animation and movement.

Here's another wolf cover:

Weird Tales, September 1942, with a cover by Albert Roanoke Tilburne.

Note the encircling movement of the wolves in each picture and the way they advance into the foreground after emerging from beyond the horizon. Tilburne was known to make a swipe or two, but is this a swipe from the earlier Adventure cover? As Mr. Owl says, "Let's find out."

Here is the Adventure cover, flipped so that the wolves are in the same orientation as in Frazetta's and Tilburne's covers. There is some similarity in Frazetta's picture to the flipped version of Cronin's picture. More incriminating is Tilburne's treatment, for the wolves in the rear are posed in exactly the same way that Cronin posed his wolves more than a decade before.

So Tilburne is guilty, but is Frank Frazetta? That last wolf is suspiciously familiar: it looks a lot like Cronin's last wolf. Ditto the leaning conifer. But is this a swipe? You'll have to decide that for yourself.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


  1. The similarities between these three images is certainly provocative. Personally, I'd be inclined to classify these as inspiration rather than swipes, as they are each copying a concept of design rather that the actual structure of the earlier images. Artists have been doing this forever. Van Gogh's "Starry Night" was inspired by another painting of the same name; a less famous but none the less impressive work.

  2. Dear Mike,

    I would agree with you that--if Leonard Cronin's painting was one of Frazetta's sources--Frazetta's painting was probably inspired by and not a swipe from the earlier work. Tilburne's painting, on the other hand, is a swipe, at least in the group of nine wolves in the rear. Tilburne clearly traced the wolves, then reversed the image to fit his composition. The rest of his painting may be original, so it's not a total swipe. Also, no one at the time may even have noticed that Tilburne had swiped Cronin's wolves. When somebody swipes from Frank Frazetta, though, it's obvious (and pretty shameless I might add).

    Thanks for writing.