Published in 1995 the Strange 25th Anniversary Portfolio contained 25 full-colour plates featuring covers from French publisher Editions LUG’s title Strange, a monthly digest that reprinted Marvel comics translated into French. I looked at the first eight plates here.
With one exception all the plates in this next batch were painted by French artist Jean Frisano, who contributed covers not only to Strange but to other Marvel reprints published by Editions LUG: Les Fantastiques; Nova; Special Strange; Titans and X-Men.
Born in 1927 Frisano’s natural artistic flair manifested at an early age – a talent shared by his older brother Pierre – and in his early twenties he began working for Sagedition who published translated reprints of American comics such as Mandrake The Magician and The Phantom. He and Pierre occasionally collaborated on the title, signing their work with the single sobriquet Sano.
During the Fifties and Sixties Jean worked for other publishers including SPE and IFPS, before eventually gravitating to Editions Lug in 1969, with his first work for the publisher appearing in Fantask, issue seven.
He initially worked on Edition LUG‘s range of western and fantasy titles before being entrusted with the covers to their superhero comics, a position he held until his death in 1987. Although his artwork was often based on the covers to the original Marvel comics, or inspired from inside panels, he was also happy to paint original compositions. The artistic streak clearly runs deep in the Frisano family for after his death his son Thomas picked up the reins and began to contribute covers for the publisher in a style very reminiscent of his father’s.
Although I’d heard of Editions LUG, I was largely unfamiliar with Jean Frisano’s work, a lapse I’m now more than happy to have had rectified. I’m a great fan of painted Marvel Comics artwork and Frisano’s work is some of the best I’ve seen. He successfully mimics the action-packed style of the original stories while giving the comics a more literary feel, not unlike that of Gold Key’s covers from the 1960’s.
The plates included in this collection measure 210mm by 297mm and are printed on thick watercolour paper, which holds the colour of the artwork very well. The portfolio shipped in a distinctive cardboard folder featuring Spider-Man’s mask, with a tracing paper inlay sheet to protect the plates.
Here are plates 9-16, with annotations:
Plate 9: Spider-Man and The Human Torch
From Strange issue 107, November 1978
Artwork by Jean Frisano based on a panel drawn by
Ross Andru from The Amazing Spider-Man issue 130,
originally published in March 1974
Plate 14: ROM and The Sub-Mariner
From Strange issue 165, September 1983
Original artwork by Jean Frisano, based on the story from
ROM – Spaceknight issue 35, October 1982
Plate 15: Alpha Flight
From Strange issue 179, November 1984
Artwork by John Byrne originally featured on the cover of
Alpha Flight issue 1, August 1983
Plate 16: Iron Man
From Strange issue 184, April 1985
Artwork by Jean Frisano based on Luke McDonnell’s original cover pencils from Iron Man issue 178, January 1984
That’s it for this batch. I’ve posted the last nine plates here as well as some more biographical information about Editions LUG.