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Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Frank Thorne

Here’s Scott’s next piece – BC

When I asked other classics fans which artists you’d like to see featured here – one name that popped up was Frank Thorne, and I couldn’t agree more.

Frank Thorne may be best known for his work on Red Sonja and his later ‘Erotic Fantasy’ work. What many people don’t realize is that Thorne has a long and varied career – working for many publishers in almost every conceivable genre. If you love the big busts and chain mail thing, that’s great – but take some time to get to know the rest of Thorne’s work.

To me, Thorne takes inspiration from the likes of Frank Frazetta and Joe Kubert. His layouts are often a joy and there’s a feathery touch to his pencils that is very effective.

I’ve tried to pick some samples of Thorne’s work that from a broad range of genres from different publishers.

The first is a great action page from Korak # 47.

DC did a fine, fine job on the ERB titles and it’s really too bad that they lost the license. The next page is from the short-lived Warren magazine, 1984 featuring Red Son… I mean Ghita.

Thorne also excelled at moody horror artwork, as can be seen from this interesting page from Red Circle’s Sorcery #10.

Now, I love war books (almost as much as westerns) and boy was Thorne ever a great war artist!

Check out the action pack page from a Star Spangled War Stories back-up.

I just love the page lay-out, it really energized the story.

Thorne could also take a more sweeping, cinematic approach as seen in this page from a wonderful Enemy Ace vs. Balloon Buster story from Star Spangled War Stories SWS #183.

Speaking of westerns, I would have loved to have seen Thorne tackle Jonah Hex or Scalphunter in the 70s. Ah well, some things will have to remain dreams.

Keep digging through those dollar bins, you’re likely to come up with an affordable gem featuring Frank Thorne soon or later.


I keep hoping for a Marvel Essentials reissue of Red Sonja – Thorne’s work was glorious!

Since Dynamite comics owns Red Sonja I’m guessing the chances of a Marvel Essentials is pretty slim. I don’t know if, like Dark Horse does with Conan, Dynamite has rights to the Marvel Sonja stuff or not.

Dynamite has three volumes of Red Sonja reprints, including Thorne’s work.

The good news is that Dynamite has already reprinted 3 volumes of Marvel-era Red Sonja.

The bad news is that the first volume reprint is abysmally bad, with garish coloring that obscures the artwork and mistakes that are either faithfully reproduced from the originals or introduced into the comic as they were recolored and relettered. Dynamite has never acknowledged anyone’s complaints about volume 1, so I went and got the original comics and skipped the rest of the reprint volumes.

I scanned some of the more egregious instances and uploaded them at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edwick/sets/72057594059829131/, comparing them to the original versions where I had them. If you want good Frank Thorne artwork, hit eBay or your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Convention and get the back issues.

anyone remember “ribit!”
his freaky-ass frog warrior lady comic?

No mention of Frank Thorne is complete without noting TOMAHAWK #124, featuring a story penciled by Thorne and inked by the great Joe Kubert. Because of some similarities in their styles (but a big difference in their inking techniques), it was a team-up that “had” to happen, and probably should have occurred earlier. I once had a couple of original pages from that story, and sometimes regret that I let them go. A comic book certainly worth a look-see.

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