Wednesday, September 17, 2008

09/16/08 - My Trip to Frazetta Tribute thanks to the NCS

Somehow our little group got the attention of the Great Lakes Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society. This is the crem de le crem of cartooning groups and was founded by the big boys in syndicated comics back when they were powerhouses of income for the newspaper industry names such as Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond and Mort Walker were well known around the country. An aside: Caniff is known to have outbargained Randolph Hearst when he dictated his own terms for his new comic strip Steve Canyon, Hearst knew he couldn't say no and lose such a bread and butter staple to his syndicates success.

A small group of us, John, Justin and I, jumped at the chance to attend the casual summer NCS luncheon in Lebanon, OH that Craig Boldman, chapter president, had invited us to. This was so that we could tell about our then upcoming LexArts/CCG comic art show. It was during the announcement phase of the meeting that I heard about the request for submissions to a Frank Frazetta Tribute Book Project that another NCS member was organizing and soliciting submissions for. After getting back from that highly enjoyable lunch meeting; I was filled with happiness - talking with so many knowledgeable grown-ups who shared my passion and interest in comics and cartooning had me feeling almost guilty with joy.

But the thought of getting to let Frank Frazetta know how much he had influenced my young artist mind was really getting me stoked up! I emailed Craig for the particulars soon after getting home. Upon getting the information - I was thrilled to see this endeavor included a luncheon where one could actually meet the living legend! Now I was on cloud nine! To make this story short - I was once again pleasantly surprised when my meager art offering was accepted by Jack Pittman for the the tribute book he was lovingly hand assembling to present to Frank.

Saturday August 30th 2008: My trip to East Stroudsburg and to the Frazetta Museum, was not without a few glitches and this made me miss the luncheon and getting to talk with many of the assembled NCS cartoonists - something I truly regret. But I did get there in time for the presentation to Frank of the NCS - Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.

(Picture here was my art sub and Franks award) Which appeared to stun and touch Frank when his long time friend Nick Meglin presented it to him.

Frank turned eighty this past February and is still recovering from a stroke a couple of years back. He has taught himself to paint left handed nearly as well as he could before using his right hand. His originals are striking in their unusual quality for oils - very smooth - not much texture or impasto. He apparently loved baseball so much that most of his works were completed in under 24 hours - he would work through the night so he could go out in the morning and play ball. He is a very normal sort of guy other than being a savant artist (he could do all this when he was five years old!) But I was amazed at his friendly, down to earth demeanor - not what one would expect from a "living legend"!

He looked at one of my self rejected sketches for his tribute book and asked: "Who did that?" When I told him I had - he replied "..thats good!" I don't think I will ever forget those words of praise. Thanks Frank!

Other Frazetta tribute posts: (send me your links if you want to be added!)
Ron Hill - Great Lakes Chapter of the NCS

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