The day Frazetta took away Tarzan's erection

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On his blog, Frazetta historian and collector DocDave Winiewicz shares a wonderful story about the above artwork. (To see the whole NSFW painting, click the link below).

[In 1994] Alex [Acevedo, owner of the Alexander Gallery in NYC] was quite interested in buying the Tarzan meets La of Opar watercolor. Frank would not sell it because of the pornographic nature of the piece. Tarzan was shown with a huge erection. This made the piece. One of the slave girls was looking down at the erection with obvious lust in her eyes. The Queen was lifting herself off the throne and thrusting her pubic area toward Tarzan. Great Frazetta ribald humor! A masterpiece. Frank put a lot of work into the details.

Alex wanted it. Frank said that he would have to remove the penis. Alex agreed. I was thoroughly despondent sitting there watching this scenario play out before my eyes. "My God, Frank, you can't take out that penis. It will ruin the piece." I said it calmly and quietly while Alex was looking at other potential acquisitions. Frank simply said: "I can draw another one." I've heard this before and it never happened. Alex was willing to pay 45K for the piece.

Frank got out his gouache bottles and a little water. In a few minutes he had scraped off the penis and flawlessly filled-in the open area. He matched every tone perfectly. It was an amazing thing to see. It is impossible to see that anything different was there before.

Frazetta was well-known for changing his paintings, even decades after painting the original. George Lucas has nothing on Frank!

Frazetta's La Of Opar


    1. That’s the case in the vast majority of cultures in the world. Genetalia of either sex are more taboo than mammaries, which are usually considered fairly un-taboo.

      Which are you saying — that tits shouldn’t be considered “work safe” or that vaginas should be?

    2. In some cases, male and female breasts are OK on the front page Boing Boing. With few exceptions, genitals are not displayed on the front page of Boing Boing. That’s how I do it anyway. The other editors probably have their own guidelines.

  1. the same edited version of the painting is shown on the link to frazetta’s blogspot.

    show me the penis!

    1. Probably obscenity laws. I’m not a mid-century lawyer but bringing something like that over state lines back in the day could probably get both parties areested.

      1. I’m not a mid-century lawyer but bringing something like that over state lines back in the day could probably get both parties areested.

        But in 1994?

  2. I’m curious about why Tarzan’s feet have no change in tonal value. All those muscles are totally shaded, but he’s got cartoon feet. I have the problem of constantly going back and editing/improving old work, but why didn’t he see that as a problem?

    1. He didn’t seem to be as interested in feet as other parts of the human body. He used to lend his hand painting some of characters for Kurtzman and Elder’s Little Annie Fanny. I remember one panel in which Frazetta painted Anny’s body, but someone else clearly painted her feet! UPDATE: I found the panel (NSFW).

      1. I guess he really wasn’t interested. Usually when I see people skipping over hands and feet it’s because they don’t feel comfortable enough with the anatomy, but Frazetta knew the body better than a lot of top-notch illustrators. Personally I love drawing feet and shoes.

  3. What is truly amazing about this story is his ability to use gouache with out making it look like a total pile of shit. Gawd how I hate gouache.

  4. Yup. Some artist removed my dick a few years ago too. True story.
    PS. If this was done now Opar would have recently had a brazilian.

  5. Well, it’s a good thing he removed the erection– it’s not like I need another reason to feel  inadequate, and certainly not from a goddamned cartoon.

    Though I must admit I was hoping the NSFW link showed both the before and after paintings, at least so I could see how he changed it.


  6. Roll call for anyone who didn’t click to look at the NSFW before reading any of the article….Anyone?? Anyone??

  7. I have to wonder what was changed.  Was there previously just a huge bulge in his loincloth?  Was the loincloth missing altogether?  Or was it just shoved aside, allowing him to stand rampant and proud?

    I agree that it changes the whole painting.  Why would a flaccid, disinterested Tarzan allow himself to be restrained by a couple of slave girls if the Queen didn’t have another kind of hold over his attention?  He’s a burly dude, raised by apes.  He’s not gonna stand there, all transfixed, completely limp at the voluptuous sight of the Queen and her servant girls, yet utterly helpless to resist.

    And if Frank was so all-fired worried about the naughty nature of the jungle lord’s wang, I wonder why he didn’t sketch in a filmy g-string and file down the proud nipples of her majesty as well.

    Surely he wasn’t worried that someone might think his rendition of Tarzan’s throbbing member was altogether too lovingly rendered…?

    1. Maybe he’s gay.  Or he’s only into redheads.  Or more likely, he’s only into apes.

      And if you don’t grasp why cock is more likely to get you thrown in the pokey than nipples are, you might want to bone up on the difference between hardcore and softcore.

      1. Or more likely, he’s only into apes.

        Nailed it.  As ’twere.

        Anyway, I can certainly see why he’d overlook the nipples, but the somewhat egregious triple-shot of feminine pudenda might strain the limits of Skinemax.  Or maybe not; my subscription expired some years back.

        In any case, my curiosity focuses on whether he was worried more about legal liability, or if he was just embarrassed in retrospect about the boner.

        Huh.  Well, I don’t know Frazetta’s mindset and never will.  I guess fears about legality must be most likely, right?  Why would he paint it and show it to people in the first place if he was embarrassed about it?

        1. Watch late-night premium cable. Plenty of frontal female nudity, no wide-open shots, no dick. That would appear to be the Mason-Dixon line between soft and hard porn. And it doesn’t appear to have changed in decades.

          1. And it doesn’t appear to have changed in decades.

            I think there’s wiggle room.  I was always under the impression that penetration was the dividing line, with full-on erections and what my 13-year-old classmates used to abbreviate as W.O.B.S. generally falling on the sinful side of the line.  But then, I’ve seen a couple of surprisingly erect penises in somewhat fleeting, artsy shots in a couple of period coming-of-age movies that surprised me by their presence on premium cable.  Wish I could cite a reference, but my memory fails me.  One of them involved a blind groomsman pleasuring himself on a brookside rock, if that helps.  As for its presence on cable… well, probably one of those “know-it-when-I-see-it” Potter Stewart judgments by a network suit in the right frame of mind.

            I’m reminded of François Ozon’s Swimming Pool, which I believe I caught in its R-rated form on Showtime one evening.  Had a fairly lingering close-up of a fella tugging on the raging hard-on barely contained in his Speedo.  I was a little surprised that Jack Valenti’s minions let that one pass, even though you didn’t actually see any naked wang.

            FWIW, I think American culture could stand to loosen up and not fear the unclothed phallus quite so much.  Familiarity may breed contempt (through mirth if nothing else), but the majesty and mystique of the penis really needs to be deflated, if you ask me.

          2. FWIW, I think American culture could stand to loosen up and not fear the unclothed phallus quite so much.

            Well, if you don’t loosen up, it sure might hurt.

  8. So was the loincloth absent in the original or just tented?

    For that matter, where would a guy raised by apes even get the idea for a loincloth? That always bothered me. Plus the fact that he was of European descent yet apparently never had to shave.

    1. I love you, Cow.  Thank you for the lulz. I was sort of waiting for one of these to, erm, pop up.

    2. I hate you, btw.  I was soo primed when I saw your link . .  . couldn’t hit it fast enough . . .. 

  9. Tarzan?  That makes more sense.  On first glance, I thought it was a young Mr. Spock acting very much out of character!

  10. Zardoz approves of this revision. The only way to make it better would be to replace it with a gun. The gun is good.

  11. Has Frazetta ever done any hard core stuff?

    Low point for myself: I once watched Fire and Ice all the way through just waiting but I should have just stopped with the girl fight in the beginning. I’ve never seen a hardcore Frazetta drawing.

    I can understand if he just didn’t want to go there. I can further understand if he didn’t want to go there with a character that has paid so many of his bills and who he is on cordial working terms with the creator/estate.

    1.  I can further understand if he didn’t want to go there with a character that has paid so many of his bills and who he is on cordial working terms with the creator/estate.

      That makes perfect sense to me.  Maybe he felt he’d be thenceforth forced to drive all the way up to Reseda to travel between Encino and Woodland Hills.

  12. Ah, reminds me of the crack^H^H^H^H^H^ uh, freebase-smoking Empress of the Universe drawn by Moebus. She was hawt.

  13. I went to the Frazetta museum three times and Ellie F used to share stories with me every time about the works she would not allow Frank to make any more changes to.  

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