When young illustrator Mark Romanoski first met legendary artist Frank Thorne, it was as if fate had destined them to one day work together. The meet occurred several years ago when Romanoski was enjoying a day of sunshine and beach at the Jersey Shore. On the same beach, a few sand spots down from Mark, was a gentleman with long white hair and a white beard. Mark recalls thinking," I should bring a business card down here tomorrow and introduce myself. If I ever need to paint a wizard this guy would be a perfect model." Later that day and without another thought, Mark took off on a bike ride. While turning a sudden corner he noted a huge and immaculate cloud formation over the ocean. The wizardly looking gentleman was there again, taking photographs.
He turned to Mark and stated, “Pretty spectacular hey?" Thinking out loud Mark remarked, “Yeah, it looks like a N.C. Wyeth Sky." (Wyeth is a famed illustrator and known for such images). "Oh Yeah? Well I think it is a Maxfield Parish sky," proclaimed the wizard. "How do you know who Maxfield Parish is?" inquired Romanoski. “I’m an illustrator,” responded the gentleman. "Well, I am also an illustrator,” Romanoski responded back. "Well, I am a fantasy illustrator," the gentleman clarified. "Well, I am a fantasy illustrator too," responded Romanoski.
|Image Provided by Fazio Filmworks|
And there, an instant and magical bond occurred. That wizard in disguise was none other than Frank Thorne. As soon as the wizard had stated his name, Mark instantly knew of his work. Thorne is an artist / writer /creator of such strips as, "Moonshine Mc Jugs for Playboy, "Lann" in Heavy Metal, "Danger Rangerette" in National Lampoon, a miniseries "Rabit" for Comico, as well as Fantagraphice Books Graphic novels "Ghita of Alizarr". But Frank may best be known for his work at Marvel Entertainment, on Robert E. Howard’s Character Red Sonja. Thorne drew the character Red Sonja beginning in Marvel Feature #2 and continued throughout most of her 1977-79 series.
On March 7th, the Illustration House in New York, located at 34 West 27th street in NY, hosted an exhibition and sale of a retrospect of Thorne's career featuring many of his Red Sonja originals. Frank, an honorary alumni of the duCret School of Art and Mark Romanoski, a current instructor at the school have maintained a strong bond over the years. The show has also given Thorne and Romanoski a chance to finally work together. For the show, Frank suggested that Mark paint the cover to Red Sonja #1- arguably one of the most recognizable images of his series.
For the new painting, Mark worked right on top of Thorne's original pencils and design. ”I wanted to stay as close to Frank's original image as possible, but the tighter I got with the image, the trickier it became to blend the two styles," states Mark. Certain elements that work great in comics do not necessarily translate into reality. It always is a question of what to leave in and what to leave out. The result of this collaboration; a 20 x 30 oil painting also on display at the Illustration House exhibition. Thorne enthusiastically states, "Mark has accomplished a magical transformation of a linear drawing into an awesome painting of the ‘She-devil with a sword!’ Thorne and Romanoski are also planning on making available for purchase signed limited edition giclee's of the image. The exhibit remains on display at the Illustration House until March 30th.