Me and The Art of Ramona Fradon

Growing up, I always recognized that Ramona Fradon’s artwork was different, curvier and softer in many ways than Gil Kane or Carmine Infantino. But you couldn’t help but like her open, appealing storytelling and characters. Her artistic touch on Metamorpho and later Super Friends were perfect while she was badly miscast on things like Freedom Fighters and even selected issues of The Brave and the Bold.

From the legion of writers and artists working in the first two generations of comics, Ramona was one I had never had the chance to meet or speak with. It was therefore serendipitous when Dynamite Entertainment invited me to edit The Art of Ramona Fradon which is a visual showcase for her work and was an extended conversation between the artist and fellow creator Howard Chaykin. Chaykin spoke with her on numerous occasions and the raw transcript needed to be shaped which is what I did. But in researching her career, I realized there were pockets of work Howard never explored and other gaps that needed filling in. (And speaking of Chaykin, my overdue The Art of Howard Chaykin retrospective is finally on press and should be out in the spring.)

I was tasked with calling her myself and conducting a supplemental interview so I found myself spending about ninety wonderful minutes with Ramona last year. She was gracious and displayed a pretty good memory so those gaps filled in nicely.

It was easy, then, to take the various transcripts and edit it into a pretty coherent chronology of her life and career. The book took time to assemble given the hunt for illustrations from across her career but the work is done and I see it now being solicited in the current issue of Diamond reviews.

If you grew up on her work and want to get to know the artist, I strongly suggest you get this for yourself. I’m certainly proud of having worked on this, honoring Ramona and her work.

After the cut is the complete press release with additional details.

Long time fans of Metamorpho, Aquaman, Aqualad, Plastic Man, The Fantastic Four and Super Friends are quite familiar with the work of legendary artist, Ramona Fradon, but not until now will they know the whole story of Ramona’s incredible career in comics, as Dynamite Entertainment is pleased to announce the upcoming The Art of Ramona Fradon in stores on April 2012!

For the first time ever! The DEFINITIVE retrospective of Ramona Fradon’s career will be presented in The Art of Ramona Fradon. The Art of Ramona Fradon will be a hardcover book that highlights the magnificent career of the artistic legend, plus never-before-seen sketches.

Interviewed by legendary creator Howard Chaykin and featuring a forward by Walt Simonson, Fradon talks about her artistic career, accomplishments and creations from her early days at DC in the 1950’s to her later work on Marvel’s The Cat and Fantastic Four and DC’s Plastic Man, Freedom Fighters, Super Friends and more!

“I’ve never liked to see my work in print, but the way it’s presented in this book makes me feel proud,” says legendary artist Ramona Fradon. “The drawings are arranged so attractively on the pages that the not-so-good ones look good and the good ones look really good. It covers so much of my career that there are things I barely remember doing, starting with an unpublished story strip I practiced on before I got into comics. It’s nice to see I’ve improved since then.”

“In an era when 99.99 % of American comic books were produced by a male talent pool, and very few women worked in the field–mostly as writers, and mostly producing work of no particular interest or engagement,” says Howard Chaykin.  “The truest exception to this reality is Ramona Fradon, an original, not to say eccentric talent, whose approach to comics was so idiosyncratic as to make her stand out from her peers, men and women alike–and it should be noted that her work, as influential as it’s been over these many years, remains personal, individual and inimitable.”

“I have known Ramona and loved her work forever. I started with Aquaman in the 1950s when I was a kid,” says Walt Simonson. “Ramona’s art wasn’t like anybody else’s work back then.  Her design of the human figure, her slightly abstract and expressive faces, her crisp line, and her clear storytelling stamped her work with an individuality that was instantly recognizable.”

“It is an honor that we are able to present the life and art of Ramona Fradon in The Art of Ramona Fradon,” adds Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci.  “Ramona Fradon’s work has touched many creators, and I personally am a huge fan of her art.  Ramona’s conversation with Howard Chaykin about her life’s-work makes this book a must-read for any Ramona Fradon fan and any fan of comics history!”

Ramona Fradon is an American comic book and comic strip artist.  Her career began in 1950, when it was even more unusual for women to illustrate superhero comics.  Fradon entered cartooning just after graduating from the Art Students’ League. Comic-book letterer George Ward, a friend of her husband (New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon), asked her for samples of her artwork to pitch for job openings. She landed her first assignment on the DC Comics feature Shining Knight. Her first regular assignment was illustrating an Adventure Comics backup feature starring Aquaman, for which she co-created the sidekick Aqualad.

Following her time with Aquaman, and taking a break to raise her daughter, Fradon returned to co-create Metamorpho, drawing four issues of the series. Her other work includes Super Friends, Freedom Fighters, Plastic Man,  a variety of mystery stories, and an issue of the Fantastic Four!

In 1980, Dale Messick retired from drawing the newspaper strip Brenda Starr, and Fradon became the artist for it, until her own retirement in 1995. Fradon was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.

Join the conversation on Twitter with  #RamonaFradon and on Dynamite Entertainment’s twitter page at http://twitter.com/DynamiteComics

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