Thursday, March 4, 2010

Frazetta's Johnny Comet

Cover for the softcover version of the book.

Cover for the hardcover version of the book.

Well, based on the idea, that there was an ad printed in the latest issue of Comic-Con magazine announcing this book, I guess it's safe to reveal my newest designs.

Sometimes projects come along that get me giddy and scratch my itch. This was one of them. Based on the title of this blog, it's safe to assume, I kind of like retro themed things. This assignment put into one package so many different things that I'm passionate about. First we have the 1950s... great fashion, interior design, color palettes, and car designs. Then we add the excitement and danger of rollicking midget car racing. Next we throw in a glorious black and white newspaper strip. Finally, to top it all off, we have Frank Frazetta! How can it get any better than that?

All the art in this book, are new scans from Frank's personal copies of proofs and tear sheets. The detail is spectacular. There have been other collections of this comic strip, but never has the art been this sharp and crisp. All the delicate inking lines that Frank originally applied to his drawings can finally now be seen as he had intended. It's really an eye opening experience. Having the chance to work on Dave Steven's Rocketeer book gave me lots of time to savor his artwork, but working on this book showed me how much Frank's work on this strip influenced Dave.

When designing the cover, I wanted to take all of my influences from the 50's (hot rod magazines, service station logos and products, and midget car races), and add some contemporary treatments, and roll them together to create something both old and new. Since Frank was not suppling new art for this cover, I got a chance to dig through his existing art and try to come up with an appropriate cover image. This was great fun, studying and dissecting each panel from the strips. I like how this cover turned out a lot, (I hope that doesn't come across as pompous). It to me, has qualities of a retro-flavored racing program or hot rod magazine, but I think it still retains it's new car feel.

For the slipcase, I used exploitive movie posters from the 50's for inspiration. There are some great hot rod and juvenile delinquent movies from that era. The only thing I would have liked to add, would have been tears and creases. I think that would have been cool (the publisher didn't go for that idea).

This is one of the few times I've actually created a logo for the title of the book. I would like to take the mastheads or logotypes and print them on black-t's. I think that would be a great merchandising tool. I would wear one! Better yet, what if they were turned into patches, and sewn on the back of jackets?

This is another "dream come true" project. I'm sure most comic book artists would agree that Frank's work has been hugely influential to them. I'm thrilled to be part of this. This will be the first, of a four book library, reprinting Frank's comic book work. I want to add other fun elements to this book to try to make it a complete historical record, of not only the strip but, of that unique period of time.

Climb on board and buckle your seat belt, we are going for a fast ride!


  1. Brilliant work, Randy!
    Burning rubber with all pistons firing, as usual.
    Man, those are fun!

  2. Randy! You are a machine of retro-awesome!!! This looks fantastic. Your color sense is so sharp.

    Keep making 'em and we'll keep buying 'em.


  3. I was just wondering about this book. I'm thinking about getting it. what I didn't understand is it looks like its vertical when the strip was horizontal, dose this affect the size and layout difference in this version. Also I'm wondering if the ink ever faded from the original proofs.

  4. Yes, you are correct, the strips are printed 2 to a page vertically. This certainly wasn't my decision, but was done to keep in line with the idea of this being 1 of a 5 book library on Frank Frazetta. I think the book is worth picking up just for the sake of getting the colored Sundays. The color is brilliant, and my understanding is, Frank oversaw the color choices. To answer your question about the blacks, they are full and dense with no fading. If your are a fan of Frazetta, I think it's a no-brainer to pick this up. This is some of my absolute favorite stuff of his.

  5. Is there anyway you can post any pics of this book I'm just wondering what looks like printed in the vertical format.