Sunday, 16 May 2010

Triangulation: Momoa and Frazetta

Well, I certainly did more than last week. I just wish it was under better circumstances.

Monday comes the minor news of the first pictures of Momo as Coco, and the infinitely more important news of Frazetta's passing, followed by tributes on Tuesday and visual ones on Wednesday, with a personal one on Thursday. It was just a matter of time given his health and age, but it's still tough. On Saturday, I decided to pull the trigger on my "Frazetta and Howard" series, where I look at the illustrations in more detail.

First of all, there's this weird undercurrent in the internet that asserts Frazetta's Conan "doesn't really resemble Howard's" or some variation therein. I really don't think this is the case: the only thing that I don't think Frazetta did get was the hair, which was too straight for Conan's "unruly," "tousled," "lion-like mane." Not crimped or wavy like Momoa's or Moellers, nor straight like Frazetta, but somewhere in between that and the Bettie Page do. Something like Oded Fehr's, IMO. But apart from the hair, there's the clothing - and really, given how many costumes Conan goes through, it isn't like giving Superman or Batman the wrong costume. Everything else - dark skin colour, rough skin texture, hairy chest, musculature, proportions, facial features, scars, hair colour, eye colour - all present and correct.

Secondly, there are people who say Milius did a good "Frazetta Conan." Again, I can't say I agree. Arnold's Conan had moderately tanned skin with an oily sheen, brown flowing hair, green/grey eyes, different facial features, and different bodily proportions: a bodybuilder's physique instead of a warrior's. Arnold's Conan looks strong as an ox, sure, but Frazetta's Conan looks like he could believably hold off an army on his own. I never felt that with Arnold. It didn't help that he was subdued by a paltry minimum of two big dudes.

As an aside, I love all the comments on places like Superhero Hype, Comic Book Movies, IGN and whatnot saying that Ahnold would break Momoa in half, when his actual fighting prowess is so utterly laughable when one looks at it. He has some nice moments, like the Battle of the Mounds, but most other fights, he moved like a tranquilised sloth. If Momoan is anything like Ronan, Momoan would freaking eviscerate Ahnold. Does it matter how big your muscles are when your opponent is moving in x4 speed and slicing your limbs off before you know what's happening? (Whoops, getting dangerously close to defending the remake there...)

Then we get into the whole idea of Milius making Conan the Barbarian "an ode to Frazetta and Wagner" - I can't help but think he's too obsessed with the details to get the big picture. He goes for Frazetta's details - the sword design, costumes, architecture, whatnot - but he doesn't do the stuff that made Frazetta Frazetta, as opposed to his myriad imitators and students. He doesn't do the sweeping dynamic colours, the almost expressionist blurs and tones, the stark relief, the composition, the classicism. It's like dressing some street bum in lavish Macbeth costume on the side of a street, and expecting to get Sir Ian McKellan at the RST. Ralph Bakshi did a better Frazetta pastiche: heck, even Nispel did a better job bringing "Frazetta" to life (albeit in only one or two really cool shots).

The first picture in "Meditations" is one of my favourite tributes. It has Luana, which was my first exposure to Frazetta, leading Frank through his gathered creations to the gates of Heaven, and a silhouette waiting at the threshold... Man. Normally I find this indescribably cheesy, but this one just works. It helps that Luana has special significance for me. I might post some of my favourite Frazetta pics with a word about why on an off day, when I'm not so busy.

Anyway, getting myself geared up for Howard Days. Less than a month away! BTW, Drag Me To Hell is totally "Casting the Runes"/Night of the Demon with a different ending, setting and characters. Since Raimi infused it with a lot of his daft humour, it's probably best he didn't make a full remake, since Night of the Demon is one of the finest horror films ever made.


  1. After a week studying Latin, I finally got 'round to writing/drawing my own tribute over at "The Lurking Humour".

    It still seems far too little for such a great man.

  2. I think the problem Conan movies one Hollyweird think they are bad Tarzan movies,with swords.New movie wasn't perfect,but better anything before it of it's type done with Conan.I can understand fans wanting an elder Arnold playing Conan,other the love of musclemen.Two,big Bob Howard left the Conan world in a mess,others are attempting to fix up.Howard wasn't perfect-good creative,but not perfect.He started the creation and didn't leave with a kick ass origin story Burroughs gave with his Tarzan.Some fans act as all Howard Conan was great and all else second best.Thomas held own for years,as DeCamp tried to gives us what he could-good or bad.No wonder Hollywood struggles with Conan.Be kind-think of the many so to bad Tarzan movies and thank god they aren't turning out Conan movies like them,with monkey stealling the show.