Sunday, November 29, 2009

Frank Dietz - Cartoonist/Artist Survey #7

Those of us who are Monster Kids surely know this next contributor, Frank Dietz. Frank has been involved in the film industry as a writer, producer, director, actor and animator. Frank worked at Disney as an animation artist and you can see his work in Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and many others. What I enjoy most of Frank's work though, are his drawing and paintings of Classic Movie Monsters. Frank won the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award as "Artist of the Year" in 2006 and 2007!

and his Sketchy Things Store (great gifts for the classic monster lover this holiday season); .
The above picture drawn by Frank entitled, "Channeling Mr. Poe." gives you an example of what incredible work Frank produces. Now on with the Q& A.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I work mostly in pencils, but I'm comfortable with Pigma Micron pens.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I almost always start with a light pencil sketch, no matter what medium the piece ends up being rendered in. I traditionally use a Mars Lumograph 100 B, but I'll use whatever's available in a pinch!

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I've done both, but really prefer to do everything by hand.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I love watercolor (although certainly challenging at times!), oil pastels and colored pencils. The fabulous Jeff Preston got me into Prismacolor markers not long ago, so I've been playing around with those. And I've been known to use good old Crayola crayons from time to time, just for fun.

What type of paper do you use?
High quality animation paper. An addiction created during my Disney years.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Rooms and buildings, unless they're highly stylized. I'm first and foremost a character artist. I have very little patience for backgrounds, which is probably why I never attempted to become a sequential comic book artist.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
There are quite a lot of local art stores here in the Burbank area, so I can usually get what I need within an hour of needing it. I'm also an impulse buyer, so having so many stores in such close proximity is both a good and a bad thing!

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Sacrificing kittens became too messy. Besides, the neighbors started complaining about the noise and I'm pretty sure the local pound was getting suspicious. So now I settle for cracking my knuckles and drinking coffee.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I have a computer monitor set up to the left of my art table/animation desk. I almost always have a movie playing while I work. Otherwise I'd probably never see any movies! It's only difficult with foreign and silent films - anything with subtitles!

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Dell and Gold Key comics are the ones that really stick out in my mind. Tarzan, Space Family Robinson, anything with crocodiles or monsters. Later on I enjoyed the DC Adams/O'Neil Green Lantern and Batman stuff. Oh, and MAD magazine, of course!

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
The early Peanuts strips are still fascinating to me. So simple, yet so insightful. Later on, as it became more sort of self-aware, I kinda lost interest. But happiness is still a warm puppy. And Gary Larson's Far Side strips are still the funniest comic strips ever.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
It's a toss-up. Either "Green Eggs And Ham," by Dr. Suess, or "The Frankenscience Monster" by Forry Ackerman. I still own both.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I didn't have much formal training until right before going to Disney. I took life drawing at the Animation Institute in North Hollywood. Once I was at the studio, we had weekly open classes taught by great old Disney story guys like Walt Stanchfield. After Disney I had some training in oil painting, which I had never done before.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
I doubt I could have achieved the success I've have without the Internet. Being able to promote "Sketchy Things" to a world-wide audience has opened doors I could never have even known about. Of course there are downsides, but what doesn't? Let's just say I would rather have it than not have it!

Did either of your parents draw?
Not that I was aware of.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My childhood friend Jonathan Guildroy was my "mentor," even though he was only a year older than me. He was/is a remarkable talent, whose work always inspired me to do better.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I always have one handy, but these days I'm usually too busy with real work to doodle much.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I taught drawing and painting to teens and adults for a little more than two years. It was highly rewarding, especially when an adult student would realize that they did have the ability to create, even if they'd been told their whole lives that they didn't. I left teaching because I had too many personal projects in motion, and could no longer give it the attention it needed, and what the students deserved.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion, without a doubt. Talent is just mastery of learned skills, and almost anyone can do it if they try. But only those with a passion for creating and self-expression will triumph.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Sculptures of classic horror characters and actors, books about other artist's work, autographs of actors and writers who have inspired or thrilled me, and, to some degree, the toys I enjoyed as a kid.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
In my head I'll always be Jonny Quest.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. I only use my left hand to wave to the papparazzi.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
The two things I do now when I'm not drawing - screenwriting and acting.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
An animation desk/drawing table surrounded by two computers, a painting easel, busts of Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney Jr. and Price, some plastic crocodiles, a Peter Cushing autograph, original art by my pals Bill Stout and Bernie Wrightson, a picture of a naked woman, a "Mark Of The Devil" promotional vomit bag, my vintage Jonny Quest P.F. Flyer decoder ring, and my two Rondo Awards.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but I can kick out a mean karaoke tune when cornered.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw and draw again. There's no such thing as a bad drawing, you learn something from every sketch, whether you realize it or not. And get your work out there! Use that Internet!

Who is your favorite artist?
That's a toughie. I don't think I could pick an absolute favorite, but the short list would include (in no particular order) Mort Drucker, James Bama, Basil Gogos, Jack Davis, Reynold Brown, Frank Frazetta, and Bill and Bernie, because they all are known for subject matter that is close to my heart.
Thanks very much Frank!
Are you a cartoonist/artist and want to be included in the survey? Just send me an email at; and I will rush out the form.

1 comment:

Belle Dee said...

Thanks for sharing this! These art surveys are great, and I'm always interested to hear/read Mr. Dietz's interviews!