Friday, February 22, 2013

Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta

                                                                     By Petar Meseldzija

Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta, Oil on board, 211/2 X 281/4 inch, 2012/2013

My homage to Frazetta is finally finished and although it has often been said that a good painting does not need the explanation, I do feel compelled to say something about one particular aspect of this piece. My intention was not to make a copy of Frazetta’s character. My intention was to do a homage to the master by projecting his famous character onto my world and let it go through the prism of my own vision. The essence of my interpretation has been most correctly expressed by a good friend of mine and a fellow artist who, upon seeing the painting, commented:  “ Ah, you are on their side as well…!” Another spot-on remark I heard from another person was: “This is perhaps the lightest Death Dealer painting I have ever seen, but  still the darkest Death Dealer, for it appears to me that HE is the bad guy!”

The Death Dealer series, as it is the case with much of Frazetta’s art, reflect a typical black-and-white approach to the relationship between good and evil, and it is presented in a simplified and rather straightforward manner. Death Dealer’s foes are evil savages who are here to be slain (punished for whatever they stand for), while Death Dealer’s job is to make sure it is properly and thoroughly done. Generally speaking, I think this aspect of Frazetta’s art is not only connected to the certain archetypes and the stereotypes of his time, but it also reflects something of the preconceptions,  general aspirations, prevailing ideologies, the impact of major conflicts, etc. of the 20st century.
The times have changed, as we know . We don’t live anymore in a black-and-white world (we never did, by the way, this is one of many misconceptions man has to deal with). We now live in a Grey, more complex  world, a global village, where the division line between the good guys and the bad guys seem to be fairly blurred. In a way we have become more realistic (I still avoid to use the word “wise” because of the obvious reasons). It has been said that the most popular character from Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings is not Frodo, or Sam, or Gandalf, or Aragorn but Gollum! I think this is a very interesting indication, although a tiny one, and I guess relatively insignificant, for there are much better and more relevant examples. Never the less, this testifies to the shift in the approach of the general public (popular culture) to the concept of good and bad, which apparently has become more flexible.
The underlying notion of my Death Dealer interpretation is supposed to reflect this “new” point of view. The rest of the elements, mostly technical in nature, are derived from this concept.




47 comments:

  1. wow, you took a Frazetta Icon and made it your own. Incredible detail in every part of the painting.

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  2. Impressive painting. I love the vitality of your brushstrokes. A great hommage to Frazettas work.

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  3. The brushiness and the colour variations in the minutest of places is just amazing. Awesome work!

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  4. I've been waiting for this painting ever since I saw the drawing (which i love in all it's stages). The waiting was worth it! Just look at this- those colours, the rendering, the freaking downwards cape- it's genious! What to say about the metal plates on the skirt- so colourful, yet so 3d. I cant even imagine it better-this my favourite painting of yours!
    I am on the dark Death Dealer's side now! A true ManOwaRrior he is :)

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  5. Petar, you have an ego the size of a small moon, but your work is amazing! I love this painting.

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  7. wow Petar, great work. Thanks for sharing. truly epic.

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  8. Phenomenal brushwork Petar! It's gorgeous.

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  9. Excellent work! And thanks for posting the close-ups, they are always interesting to see.

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  10. This is a fantastic piece Petar! I appreciate the backstory to it as well, I have always thought the more diffuse "grey" approaches to good and bad in stories make them much more interesting.

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  11. Great to see such a cool new image of such an iconic character! Love it. Not sure I understand the anonymous 'ego' comment above. Having had the chance to hear Petar speak and demo at Illuxcon he seems like a very humble and gracious artist to me!

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    1. I guess ( and hope) that a language barrier is the main reason for this “ego” comment. When I write my blog posts I mostly wrestle with my knowledge of English language, or with the lack of it, to be more precise. It is hard for me not-to-make a mistake when expressing my thoughts in English.

      This might be the reason for a possible misunderstanding of this blog post on my homage to Frazetta. In order to prevent future misunderstandings, as far as my relation to Frazetta’s art is concerned, I would like to stress the following once again; my appreciation of Frazetta’s art is very high, otherwise my homage wouldn’t have any sense, unless it is perceived as an act of hypocrisy. Frazetta’s art meant a lot to me while I was starting my art career. I loved it from the first gaze I laid upon his illustrations. As my artistic skills, knowledge and insights grew, so grew my appreciation for his art. He indeed reflected the spirit of the genre, as well as the certain aspects of the popular culture of his time, like nobody before him. The fact that the approaches, insights and concepts change, and in some cases deepen, through time, does not necessarily mean that art from the preceding periods has to be degraded. And I certainly did not want to suggest that my Death Dealer interpretation is better, smarter or whatever, than the Frazetta’s original, as it has been suggested in a comment on my blog. People who really know me, or understand my work more thoroughly, know about my feeling of incompetence and inferiority when comparing my own fantasy work with Frazetta’s.

      I changed “simplistic” into “simplified” :) Thank you Bill! These kind of mistakes are annoying but unfortunately I will keep on making them, I am afraid. I simply don’t have time to go back to school and learn English language properly. So, I hope that there are more people like you who know how to read in-between the lines.

      Thank you, guys!

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    2. Don't kid yourself Petar. Your ability to write intelligent and thoughtful posts in english is quite remarkable. I would say you express your thoughts better than many native english speakers. Myself included. And forget about me expressing any coherent thoughts in Serbian... We have a lot to learn about language here in the states.

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  12. Cannot describe how this painting makes me feel...

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  13. I must chime in my thoughts about this painting, since Petar did the painting for me. He did exactly what I wanted him to do, but even better. The only art direction I gave him, was to make it great and make it is own and be happy with what turned out. I know he had some second thoughts about parts of it, but always found a way to conquer them.
    Petar is and will always be great to work with and is one of the most humble guys I know. His only concern is to do his best with each painting and to always push himself harder.
    Sincerely,
    Gregg

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  14. "We don’t live anymore in a black-and-white world... We now live in a Grey, more complex world..."

    This is a very black-and-white statement. It is WRONG to think the world is black-and-white. It is RIGHT to think it is grey.

    Hmmm..... maybe it is a black-and-white world after all.

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  15. This makes me uncomfortable. Death Dealer was not owned by a corporation, it was Frank Frazetta's character. He was owned by a fellow artist. It does not seem like a "homage" when you painted it to make money.

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  16. Somehow my comments are deleting. Must be me.


    These anonymous comments make me uncomfortable.
    Homage and use of others' characters is so common among artists throughout history I don't understand this comment. It seems there are anonymous commenters here who have personal issues.


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  17. With respect, "common" doesn't make it "right." Mr. Meseldzija did not paint this to pay homage to Frank Frazetta, he did it for money, profiting from another artist's creation. Without Frazetta this painting wouldn't exist. I choose to be anonymous because I don't want to be ganged up on, as is sometimes "common" here when someone has a different opinion.

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    1. Common doesn't make it right but right makes it right. Please differentiate between a character created by a wordsmith, or artist who uses words as a medium, and a visual artist. Every artist who has painted a character from literature would be in violation. There is also a list of artists who have done paintings of other artists' images as commentary and homage who have also been paid. Common does not always make right but generations of doing and law do.

      You certainly are entitled to your feelings on the subject but when you present them for others to read, including me and many others who have done exactly such homage paintings for money, you might be asked to defend your opinion.

      And being ganged up on is not a defense for being anonymous. If you have strength of conviction enough to post something on a public forum have strength enough to own your opinion.

      One more thing. If you call someone out saying that he didn't do something that he said he did, paint as homage, then do it openly.

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    2. You obviously don't understand copyright law, so allow me to clarify... Copyright law protects COPIES (as in reproductions). There is absolutely nothing wrong, or illegal, about painting an homage to another artist. Even if it wasn't an homage, and was a straight up copy, it would still be legal. So long as the the image is an original work of art, it is protected under the first amendment right to free speech. It doesn't matter if you sell it, make money, or don't make money... it's still perfectly legal. So long as Petar does not make reproductions of the piece, he has done nothing wrong.

      This is why I am able to create a painting of Wonder Woman for a charity auction. It is why Donato can paint Iron Man and sell it to a collector.

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    3. "Bill": I have strength of conviction, enough to speak out when I think something is wrong. You choose to read ulterior motive into being anonymous when expressing that opinion: for what reason? So you can Google me to see if I am someone noteworthy that you should pay attention to or some nobody that you can write off? I am Steve, "Bill," okay?

      Illustrators have always been hired to interpret fictional characters: that's what they do. The writer always owns the words no matter how an artist depicts the characters. But when an artist creates a character, that is all they own. They are not asking other artists to reinterpret what they have created. Yes it happens all the time and it may be legal, but that does not make it right. Ethically, it is wrong to infringe on a fellow artist's rights. A "homage" is created out of respect, maybe even love. That's not why Mr. Meseldzija created this work. I do not believe he would have painted Death Dealer if he had not been commissioned to paint Death Dealer. If you have done similar "homage" paintings, have you done them in a style similar to the original or have you been doing them your way? Mr. Meseldzija is imitating Frazetta, capitalizing upon a fellow—and recently deceased—artist's character. He can do so legally, but should he or should he be painting his own characters? I think you know how I feel.

      "Dan": I am not saying that Mr. Meseldzija cannot paint anything he wants to. Posting his painting here and on his own blog is "publication". People are able to grab his art and repost it and print as many copies as they want. That might be considered copyright infringement, especially if the Frazetta family files a complaint.

      Also you missed my original point: Wonder Woman is owned by a corporation. Iron Man is owned by a corporation. Doing and posting art of either might make a faceless corporation angry at you, but you as an artist are not infringing on the rights of a fellow artist. Death Dealer belongs to Frank Frazetta. If you create your own character, would you want other artists doing imitations without your permission?

      There is a real Frazetta expert that is part of Muddy Colors. What does Mr. Fenner think of this "homage"?

      —Steve

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    4. No, I didn't miss your original post. I just found it irrelevant. By your reasoning, it's only acceptable when the character in question is owned by a 'faceless corporation'? Morally speaking, it doesn't matter who owns Wonder Woman or who owns Iron Man... the characters were still created by an individual artist. Every day comic artists are paid to do private commissions of Spider-Man. Are they all insulting Steve Ditko? No. Because they are doing it within the guidelines of the law, and more importantly, with RESPECT. Petar is not mocking Death Dealer. If anything, it's a compliment.

      Petar already said how much Frazetta's work means to him. I don't know what more you want. If you sincerely think that Petar put -THAT- much work into a piece only for the sake of profit... you're seriously obtuse.

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    5. You can't tell the difference between artists like Steve Ditko drawing Spider-Man as work for hire for Marvel and Frank Frazetta painting Death Dealer for himself? Now who is being "seriously obtuse"?

      — Steve

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  18. Apparently, no matter what we say or do, there is always somebody who will find a reason to criticize us. I have nothing against a well argumented and reason-able criticism/commentary, but this last anonymous comment is unreasonable and unfair.

    As for the problem with negative anonymous comments, criticizing others on a public forum, while at the same time hiding behind the name “anonymous”, is not the way a gentleman would behave, or a lady, in case it is a female.

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    1. Mr. Meseldzija, it is only "unreasonable" and "unfair" because you disagree with my opinion. It does not make you right. I do not believe that painting another artist's character for profit is a "homage": you and others can believe what you wish, but that does not alter my opinion.

      —Steve Anonymous

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    2. Making money, and making an homage do not need to be mutually exclusive.

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    3. So it's the my opinion is my opinion and I don't need to support it argument. Even after well presented arguments to the contrary you hold on to the my opinion is my opinion argument. Have you gone out of your way to criticize other illustrators on this forum who have done the same thing?

      "Illustrators have always been hired to interpret fictional characters: that's what they do. The writer always owns the words no matter how an artist depicts the characters. But when an artist creates a character, that is all they own."

      This is your quote Steve A. Read it again and see if it makes sense. You argued earlier that just because it has always been done that way doesn't make it right. You are saying that because a character is created with words it is OK for an illustrator to interpret but if a character is created with different kinds of marks on paper it cannot be interpreted by an illustrator? I have had other artists use my work in homage. They didn't go out and sell thousands of posters or books based on the appropriated image. One piece with their interpretation of my work. I was honored. Petar is not making a cottage industry of Death Dealer. He did one piece, one interpretation.

      And yes when someone posts with anonymous I can't check their background and it bothers me. If you think that all opinions are equal then you are being intentionally naive.

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    4. Your "well presented argument" consists of "everybody does it". All I said was that using the work created by a fellow artist did not seem proper to me IMO. And in true Muddy Colors fashion you all gang up. None of you have offered any justification beyond it's okay to do it for money. Give me a break.

      — Steve

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    5. Guys, I was just doing this because I was bored.

      -Steve.

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    6. There are much better uses for your time, "Steve."

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    7. Let me get this straight. You call into question a man's ethics because you're bored? What did you do last week, tie firecrackers to a cat's tail?

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    8. I did not post the second "Steve" comment above.

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    9. Nor did I.
      -Steve

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    10. I can assure you I wasn't responsible for that post. I was busy mixing molotov cocktails in preparation for SFAL 2. I am going to light that modern day Gomorrah up and take all of those unauthorized & therefore unethical Tolkien-inspired paintings to hell with me, sinners!

      -Steve



      Just kidding....great painting, Petar.

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    11. Dan, it's time to lock this thread down.

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  19. It's too bad discussion about this wonderful piece of art is being overshadowed by an Anonymous poster who really isn't saying anything of value. Petar is legally in the right and the subject is closed. Debate the rest in a philosophy class.

    Petar, yet again you've blown me away with your emotional brushstrokes! The color you've put into Death Dealer's scale skirt is incredible! Thank you so much for posting this and sharing it with us.

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  20. Well THAT was unexpected when I clicked into comments. What the...?

    Anyway--Petar, you are such a master. This is a truly beautiful piece. The brushwork, the colors, the action. Just gorgeous, and a fantastic treatment of Death Dealer as well.

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    1. I hate using the Anonymous tag, but do not have any of the accounts needed to post it using my name. This is Gregg again, the one that commissioned Petar to do the painting. I have always been a fan of the Death Dealer character and even have a large tattoo of him on my back. I have seen numerous artists paint his likeness ever since Frazetta did his first one and most to me are just copies of what Frank did. I own other paintings from Petar and know how good his work is and continues to be, so when I went to Petar with the idea for the painting he was hesitant at first, because it was going to be based on someone he looked up to so much and respected. My only words to him were to just make it a Meseldzija and not a Frazetta and I think he accomplished that task all too well. I know some of you on here think he did it just for the money, but I can tell you he thought long and hard about the subject and went way beyond what we first discussed as far as the size and price. Petar's main goal was to take the character and go further than what others had done and to make Frank very proud. I was in contact with Petar throughout this process and know how hard it was for him to get it right in his head. I think he did the Frazetta name proud and also gave me one hundred percent of what I wanted in the painting. I can only hope anyone else out there commissioning paintings gets the same treatment. Almost anyone will take money to do a painting, but only some will give you some of their sweat and blood, along with the paint, so you can call it a masterpiece. Petar is that kind of person!
      Sincerely,
      Gregg Spatz

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    2. Thank you Gregg. True gentleman and great collector. I probably shouldn't have played with anonymous but when someone takes the time and effort to post their work and words here I don't think petty jabs are the way to thank them. Petar's post is to anyone who reads and understands it a tremendous tribute to a master and a revelation of artistic struggle. The results are so obviously stunning that the tribute is obvious.

      To say that one steals by creating such a tribute to another's character is blind. But to argue that it's OK to steal from corporations but not individuals is the blind leading the blind. Steve, you can repeat that the only argument presented was "everybody does it" as many times you like but that doesn't, in your words, make it true. Go back and read the arguments again and enjoy Petar's incredible painting.

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  21. Well, hey - it wouldn't be a proper Petar post without someone showing up to anonymously give him some grief. :D

    Personally, I totally support dissenting or opposing opinion, but I have trouble lending it much weight if the person voicing it isn't willing throw their own weight behind it. Perhaps that's not fair, but this *is* the internet and even if it's not trolling, it can easily appear to be when anonymity is invoked.

    On the subject of the character itself, was there not a Glenn Danzig-produced comic series about him with art by different people like Simon Bisley and Art Suydam? And something about a movie deal around that time? I understood the "Death Dealer" to be a franchised character, and yes, Steve - artists can paint their own images of franchised characters and sell the originals, as long as they don't sell copies of the work. For my part, I certainly have countless Elrics piling up...

    When Bill says "everybody does it", I didn't take him to mean "it's okay because everyone does it", but rather that it's accepted practice and considered completely ethical, and therefore widely done without comment.

    On the subject of the painting itself: Petar, I love your vigorous paint handling as always, but I also marvel at your ability to throw light sources wherever you want them or wherever they work to best advantage for a given element, and yet to still have it come off as coherent and cohesive. Impressive!

    Thanks for the post and the discussion.

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  22. Jesus Christ. I come here to get my Monday post written and...look at all this. I'm always amazed by the stupid crap people get their panties in a wad over. As I have said elsewhere, I don't like anonymous posts, but this all seems to have devolved into something unnecessarily rancorous. So let me cut to the chase:

    Gregg can commission anyone to paint anything he goddam wants. Petar can agree to take a commission to paint whatever he goddam wants. If Petar wants to call it a "homage" or an "airplane" or any other goddamn thing he wants to call it he can. Bill and anyone else can like whatever Petar does as goddam much as he/they want to. Steve or anyone else don't have to like any goddam thing he/they don't goddam want to. And all of you are welcome to your own goddam opinions, well reasoned or half-baked, as much you goddam please.

    Now be nice. Goddamit.

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  23. ...Now I am envious. No matter what kind of ludicrous statements I write in my articles I never seem to provoke discussions or heated duels of words like this. Steve, please comment on my articles too!

    By the way - I wish to be anonymous

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  24. First of all I must say we should do that more often - the troll Steve (the second one) made my day. And to the real Steve- anonymous or not you have some balls to stand for yourself for that long against the biggest names in the busines. I once said smth inappropriate and ...well they didnt take it well, except for Dan- he is super cool with us, unexperienced fools.
    Now on the topic.In my honest oppining even if Mr Meseldzija did not get paid for doing this painting sooner or later someone was gonna buy it.So it doesnt rly matter. What is more he has been doing it for sooo long( I loved the initial drawing so I've been keeping track of time) and has put so much efford and work in it, just to make every last bit of it as Frazetta, yet as Meseldzija as possible, that if this is not a tribute, I dont know what is. We have all have those projects that we like so much that we say to ourselves "I am gonna go over my best here- this is the sort of thing I would gladly do even for free" A homage is smth that comes from your heart, not from your wallet, and no sum of money can change that. Frazetta has passed now, and if capable artists like Mr Meseldzija here, keep on keeping his character and memory alive, he couldnt have asked for more...I couldnt have asked for more

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