CCI: Fotos expands Frazetta line of comics

Building on the success of Image's "Death Dealer" mini-series based on the painting by renowned fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, the book's shepherd, artist Jay Fotos, is moving forward on expanding the line of Frazetta-inspired comics. Fotos has announced, at the San Diego Comic Convention, a line-up of several one shots and a new mini-series, all based on famous Frazetta paintings and featuring the work of a team of recognized comics creators. Fotos spoke with CBR News about the project.

"The Silver Warrior" is a four-issue mini-series by Fotos, Nat Jones and Joshua Ortega. One-shots include Rick Remender on Frazetta's "Creatures," "Swamp Demon" written by Joshua Ortega, Steve Niles handling "Dracula Meets The Wolfman," and Mark Kidwell doing the same for "Dark Kingdom."

The origins of the Frazetta projects go back to Fotos' love of the artist's work as simply a fan. "Always a Frazetta fan and a art collector I scraped up some money to finally purchase a Frazetta original," explained Fotos. "I contacted the Frazettas [Frank and his wife, Ellie] about purchasing some art, with many phone conversations we became friendly. I sent out comics and prints that I worked on and they were impressed. So I just asked if I can do a 'Death Dealer' series, they said 'okay,' but they were pretty strict on how they wanted Frank's art to be portrayed and insisted on approving everything. I was fine with that. I wanted them involved as much as possible. It slows things down but in the long run everyone is happy with the results, which was my first concern."

"Frazetta sees everything," Fotos added. "For the most part, from having conversations, I know what he doesn't want to see. So before stuff goes to him it'll be filtered."

The 'Death Dealer' mini-series has seen sell outs and second printings, proving successful for Fotos, Frazetta and publisher Image Comics, giving Fotos an idea.

"The Frazettas are so pleased with how 'Death Dealer' is turning out and sales are good, that I approached them about continuing on with the 'Frazetta Comic Universe,'" said Fotos. "They think I'm nuts, but I feel these books will be like the Time-Life books of the comic world. If you're a Frazetta fan you must have these on your shelf!"

Looking over the upcoming event's projects, Fotos said, "Nat Jones and I are the 'go to' guys on all this. We (along with Frazetta) decide on the direction/look we are looking for. "

Fotos explained, "With the new 'Silver Warrior' four-issue mini, we wanted to keep in the same world as 'Death Dealer,' tying them together, but still keeping them at arms length from each other. 'Dark Kingdom' and 'Swamp Demon' tie in with the Death Dealer world. 'Dracula Meets the Wolfman' and 'Creatures' are all on their own and all with room to expand if we wanted."

"All titles will bare the name 'Frank Frazetta's...' with logos and layout similar to the 'Death Dealer' series," Fotos continued. "Like I said, we are building a library, kind of a brand name with these books so when you see it on the shelf you know it came from us and can expect the same quality."

Once it was decided to build on the success of "Death Dealer," Fotos expanded his team. "Writers were picked from who we know and from what ideas they had," he said. "We kept it pretty open, saying 'What would you like to write?' Being we have full reign over the whole Frazetta library there's a ton to pick from. "

Fotos continued, "Choosing the paintings, it was a two-way street, stuff we thought would work and what the writers wanted. I approached the writers saying 'pick up some Frazetta books and pick out your top 3 paintings you would like to do.' From there we discussed story ideas and went with what worked best. In no way I would say, 'This is what you're doing!' I want the other creators to be excited about working on these projects so having them choose what they want is the best way to go in my opinion."

"We are still in development with most of these books," added Fotos. That's why we have all these titles slated for 2008 releases.

Fotos is more directly involved in one of the announced projects, the mini-series, "Silver Warrior." "'Death Dealer' was plotted by Nat and myself then Joshua [Ortega] came in an took the reigns, adding on, and is doing a fantastic job. With 'Silver Warrior,' it's very collaborative, we (Joshua, Nat and I) will go over story ideas and we'll all put I our two cents in. The basis is another epic story like 'Death Dealer'...but in the snow."

Fotos can't be entirely forthcoming on what the story of 'Silver Warrior' will be about just yet. "That's a tough question to answer at this point," he explained. "Like I said, things are still brewing with this storyline and to give a definitive who and what that might change...we are still focused on finishing up the 'Death Dealer' series."

For Fotos, these projects are the culmination of something that started long ago."[When I was in] third grade, my father was big on 'Heavy Metal' magazine, back in the seventies, and he picked up 'The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta.' That book changed my life, along with a million other people."

"The effects of Frank's art that you can still see within my own art is the sense of depth and movement," Fotos continued. "I pretty much base all that from Frazetta."

Are these projects all that are planned for this Frazetta line of comics?

"Five new titles aren't enough? Geez! I kid! We plan to go as long as fans still pick up the books. Like I said, we have full reign on all the Frazetta paintings ... and there are a lot of them. Stay tuned."

Check out all the stories coming out of Comic-Con International 2007 about the expanded line of Frazetta comics:

Discuss this story here on CBR's Image Comics Forum.

Batman: Last Knight on Earth Trailer Debuts a Mohawked Wonder Woman

More in Comics