Saturday, October 14, 2006

Waxing Poetic with Frank Dietz

If you read the fine classic monster magazine MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT, you've no doubt marvelled at the funny little department heads, all rendered by the same dead-on artist's hand. That hand belongs to the inimitable Frank Dietz, a Disney animator and sometimes actor whose uncanny knack for caricature has made him the logical successor to Jack Davis as the premier cartoonist specializing in macabre movie moments and idols.

Frank has published several booklet collections of his caricatures, which are available for browsing and purchase at his website, and if you follow that link, I guarantee that you'll see something that will cause you to laugh your head off. Frank's caricatures are not just hilarious because they look funny; they appeal specifically to the film buff's experience and memory of a movie, a scene, a performance. As I once told Frank about one of his caricatures, after pulling my jaw and the rest of myself off the floor, he has the ability to instill into his work not only what an actor is thinking about the movie he's in, but how much he's being paid to be in it.

At this year's Wonderfest, I had opportunities to talk with Frank and found him in that position all artists reach sooner or later, where he was chomping at the bit to move past caricature (which now comes easily to him) into a more challenging realm. For Frank, that beckoning challenge is the world of legitimate portraiture. He had made steps in this direction by creating exclusively for Wonderfest a dozen or so charcoal portraits of the great stars and performances of classic movie horror. He was nervous about putting them on public display the next day, fretful that he might have priced them too high ("I've got to at least cover the cost of materials," he reasoned), but by the time I reached the dealers' room the next morning, all but a couple had been sold -- and Frank was beaming. He'd made his breakthrough. By the end of the day, I'm sure they were all gone and he may have received commissions for more.

Tonight, he's going to make another breakthrough. Tonight, Frank Dietz becomes the subject of a solo exhibit at the Wax Poetic Gallery (their 7th Annual Halloween show) at 3208 West Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, California, which is going to feature not only his caricatures, pencil drawings, and new charcoal portraits, but -- something new for Frank -- original oil paintings as well. The event, which promises lots of music, refreshments, and guest celebs (not to mention first crack at purchasing the highly collectable pieces on exhibition), will be from 8:00 to 11:00 pm. Call 818-843-9469 for more details.

If you're in the area, don't miss it.

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