Friday, February 29, 2008

Original Art Stories: Frank Brunner

This is how an art book should be - welcome to Frank Brunner's Mythos!

I've always freely admitted that I've been a massive fan of Frank Brunner since I was a wee little kidlet being drawn to his art on titles such as Dr Strange. It didn't matter who inked his work, although pure Brunner was always good, it looked stunning. That he had an inker such as Dick Giordano didn't hurt his cause, and then there were those two Dr Strange pages inked by Alan Weiss which offered a tantalising glimpse into what could have been. Not to mention the one issue where Neal Adams touched Frank's pencils. Seriously, those Dr Strange issues are as good as the title ever got, and that's not to denigrate the efforts of the other fine artists such as Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Marshall Rogers, Paul Smith and a host of others who came before and after. Brunner's run is one of the most remembered, co-written by Steve Englehart, it remains a high point in Marvel's early 1970's canon.

From Dr Strange Frank moved onto other projects, notably Howard The Duck with Steve Gerber. Sadly that union didn't make it past the first two issues, but they were brilliantly inked by Steve Leialoha and featured some very minor contributions from Weiss, again showing us what might have been. Ahhhh but for more time. Frank also drew some great horror and sci-fi material along the way and was hitting his stride on titles such as Conan and Red Sonja when he pretty much dropped out of mainstream comics after a messy run in with Marvel in the late 1970s. It was a great shame, but then his art wasn't really suited for mainstream superhero work. He could draw them as good as anyone else, but on the fantasy titles he really came into his own. Eventually I'd love to interview Frank - we tried once but time got away from us both, so who knows what the future will bring. In the meantime allow to say to Frank - thanks for the great work over the years!

Frank is still at the top of his game. The release of the Vanguard book, Mythos, shows that. However I'm not going to waste time by telling you what you'll find inside the covers - you need to buy it to see that for yourself. Put simply, Vanguard are rapidly becoming the leader in the field of such books, they offer superior printing and more meaningful content than virtually anyone else publishing such material these days - bar none. Instead of putting as many titles as possible into the marketplace, Vanguard are picking and choosing what they release, and the attention spent on the books shows. I shudder to think what another publisher might have done with an art book of the quality of Brunners.

For a limited time, and here's the real plug, you can get a copy of the book via Frank himself. I arranged my copy (fully paid for, full rate too so don't be thinking I'm getting contra for this post) via my great pal Michael Baulderstone. I was told to pick what character I wanted, naturally I picked Dr Strange. For the money I spent I expected a simple head sketch so you can imagine both my surprise and delight when I cracked the covers and found a full page pencil sketch within. Can't be happier than that! In fact I think I know how I can be, I might see how much it'd cost to get that inked by one of Frank's best inkers. If it works out then I'll let you know it looks.

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