Rating: 4/5 – A Loving Tribute to an Artist with a Unique Sense of Style.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Ian Gowan.
Ramona Fradon is an under appreciated comic book artist who also has one of the most interesting careers in comics. She started in the 1950’s and worked for many years, mostly for DC before taking off time to raise her daughter. She worked in comics at a time when there were few if any other working female comic book artists. She returned to comics to briefly work with Marvel, on The Cat, before going back to DC. She’s most well known for her early art on Aquaman in Adventure Comics and as a co-creator of Metamorpho. She later worked on Plastic Man, The Freedom Fighters, Super Friends, and then the newspaper strip Brenda Starr. This art book from Dynamite is a well deserved look into the life of this still working 87 year old artist. She takes commissions and sells original art with art dealer Catskill Comics.
The whole book is framed around a interview with Fradon by writer/artist Howard Chaykin. He has a conversation with Ramona as both a fan of hers and a fellow career artist. The book reads and looks like a high-end sketchbook with many of Ramon’s commission sketches and family pictures sprinkled throughout. I would have liked more art at full size so I could inspect more of Ramona’s work, although this is a complete retrospective of Ramona’s career. At the end of the book Ramona talks about how she spent 15 years, a good chunk of her art career, working on the daily strip Brenda Starr for Tribune Media.
What really strikes me about Ramona’s artwork is the sense of design in her covers. Her covers for Plastic Man are both funny and exciting. The comic that most defines Ramona’s work, and probably where many fans know her art, is her 36 issue run on The Super Friends. She crafted both the covers and the pencils in all 36 issues, with Bob Smith on inks. This kid friendly comic was a positive gateway for many kids who watched the cartoon and went on to reading their comic books. Ramona’s unique art style was well suited for a Saturday morning cartoon spinoff. In the book, she talks about how Super Friends really clicked with her, she really enjoyed that she was creating it for younger children to read.
The Art of Ramona Fradon hardcover is a worthwhile investment for fans of her artwork both old and new, she has a unique cartoony style that gives her characters a lot of personality and style. Dynamite deserves credit for publishing this book since Fradon is one of the more unknown Silver Age to Bronze Age artists and deserves more recognition. Fradon has earned more attention as her art has influenced artists like Howard Chaykin and many more, her wonderful Super Friends art likely having drawn in numerous young readers and turned them into comic book fans. This is a highly recommended book and a great way to learn more about Fradon’s art and career.
Reviewed by: Ian Gowan
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