Unpublished Freff

Recently, Connor Freff Cochran contacted me regarding this site. Not only did he like it, he offered to send me pics of unpublished (!) pieces that had been done for Wizard. Holy shit! He also had a lot of juicey tidbits about creating the illustrations!

I created this website mostly because when I showed John Varley some early test renders of the Gaea model I had made, he was impressed enough to say so. What more inspiration does a fanboy need? Freff contacting the site is easily the second biggest thing that's happened with it. Cannot thank him enough - thanks Connor!

Freff: "Robin, the young witch of the Coven, staving off one of the fits characteristic of the disease which sends her questing to Gaea. Note the missing little finger? She'd cut that off before to stop one seizure. Here she threatens the whole hand. Originally the inking was intended to be quite stark, focusing all attention on the hands. Only later were you supposed to see the patchy, worn quality of the spacesuit, or the bells, tattoos, ju-jus and witchsigns that speak of her home. But as I worked on it I decided to opt for a starker, more stylized approach that felt like it echoed the knife-edged tension of the moment. My model for Robin was Bev Evans, a writer living in Binghamton."

Freff: "Two Titanides pulling stunts at the Purple Carnival, dancing and knife-juggling. I built my Titanides out of circus performing-horse photos (the dancing pose was actually taken from a diving horse!) and some sketches of Manoli Wetherell, a radio engineer friend. Sculpting the two forms together to get a sense of spinal column is a real interesting problem."

Freff: "Cirocco Jones going cold turkey, while a concerned and somber Gaby Plauget stands over her. My model for Cirocco's face, all through TITAN and WIZARD, was Columbus-based drafter-and-artist Connie Sherman. I really had no choice about using her. I was at her apartment when I first read the manuscript of TITAN, and Cirocco's facial description was letter perfect except for such things as actual skin and hair color. These matter little when you search for a model. Feature and expression are everything - and Connie was Cirocco. (Cirocco's body, by the way, was Janet Prato, a DC-based sculptor who has the double blessing - for me - of a 6' dancer's body and the capacity to hold excruciating poses for a long time.) Having a model for Gaby this time out was a relief and a pleasure. When I had to do her for TITAN I couldn't find anyone satisfactory, so I winged it as best I could from my own head. The results can be seen in the picture of Gaby stabbing at the mudflapper, and are Not Good. But by great coincidence I found a young actress in New York named Lisa Driscoll, and Lisa was perfect. The inking on his one was intended to be dark and disturbing, with Cirocco's face pasty and sweating. All the lighting was going to be from above, with shadows carving things out in stark relief. This pencil drawing was never inked, and never will be: the original is long lost."

So you might be thinking 'Gaea's milk! Why were'nt these used in Wizard?!' Here's the story from Freff himself:

"Okay. Picture me in 1978. I'm 24 years old and I'm tackling TITAN and really enjoying it. Felt better about some of the results than about others, but basically having fun." ... "Then I go to England for the 1979 worldcon and see the English hardcover edition of TITAN...with my drawings in it. Even though my contract was just for the American edition. Worse yet, the art quality is poor because they were reproducing it straight from the American edition instead of from the original art. Cue: ballistic. When I get home to the States I call Berkeley Books to complain and demand that they (a) pay me something for the English reprint; (b) tell me whether or not they'd done this with other foreign editions (they claimed they hadn't, but I've never checked to see if they were telling the truth); and (c) strengthen the current contract so this won't happen again. Much tension suddenly erupts between me and them and I'm finding it impossible to work on the new drawings, I'm so angry. Time passes. Eventually they pay me for the English stuff, but not well, and I'm still severely pissed. Now time is really too short to finish the whole set for WIZARD the way I want to, and a frontispiece plus two random drawings in the book would be silly, so I offer to kill the deal and let them have the frontispiece by itself. They say yes.

And that's how it happened.

If I had known as much then as I do now about negotiating, I would have been able to stay cool, convert their mistake into a big boost, finished WIZARD, done DEMON...and a whole different career path may have taken place. But I was younger and angrier and this was just the final straw -- too many drawings done for bad pay and lousy treatment from untrustworthy publishers. I was burnt out on art and shifted my main attention to magazine writing and music."

And here's a little piece Connor sent me from Balticon 1981. Oooo... some delicious bits here :) How many eyes DOES a buzzbomb have?! I assumed two - y'know, for binocular vision and all... :)

[from Balticon 1981 Souvenir Book]


In 1978 Dave Hartwell gave me a hell of a challenge, and a lot of pleasure, by assigning me the job of illustrating TITAN. That was both satisfying and dissatisfying. Satisfying because I got to tackle some challenging design problems in collaboration with that rarity of rarities, a visual author. Dissatisfying because I didn't do half as good a job as the book deserved.

That was why I was eager to make up by doing a dynamite job with TITAN'S sequel, WIZARD, when it was assigned to me. I read the manuscript and noted fifty-seven possible illustrations. In conference with John Silbersack, the book's editor, I chose seventeen specific illustrations and started doing necessary preliminary work. For WIZARD that meant everything from searching for and photographing models, to digging up photo reference on ghastly burn victims, to spending LOTS of time on the phone with Herb Varley, asking questions. Herb's great on that kind of stuff, because he sees what he writes. This is an unusual thing. Most authors can barely visualize a crude charcoal sketch of the events they write about, but Herb sees it in vivid Technicolor.

"These buzzbombs, Herb - how many eyes do they have?"

"You mean I didn't put that in the book?"


"Well, see, it's like this. They've got..."

...and so on. For hours. I spent a couple of hundred dollars in long distance bills.

There were supposed to be seventeen drawings, just like the first volume.

Anyone with copy of the book can find one, a frontispiece portrait of Cirocco Jones.

There were problems.

Emotional problems, creative problems, financial problems, publisher schedule problems, artist/publisher communications problems, you name it, we had it. And the artwork never got done, except for that finished frontispiece, three tight-penciled illustrations, and lots of sketching. Plus hundreds of potential reference photos.

Here are the three penciled pieces, reproduced for the first time, thanks to the kindly offices of Mark Wheatley. The rest will have to languish in limbo until such time as fate offers me the financial and chronological freedom to bring them out of my head: the portrait of Gaea and her tapdancer; Robin falling through space while being accosted by Fat Fred the Angel; a drunken Cirocco surrounded by Gaby, Robin, Chris, and four Titanides at the Enchanted Cat; the giant Sawmill and Distillery creatures at work tearing up and processing a forest; the golden froggy statue and its degenerate protectors; the screaming buzzbomb; the sandwraiths attacking Valiha; the somber landscape of the Boneyard; Robin facing off against the Thea brain; an erotic scene between man and Titanide; a portrait of the dying Gaby; Serpent, just after birth; and, of course, Cirocco facing the lightning wrath of Gaea at the book's close.

I'd really like to draw those, someday. And in the meantime, perhaps I'll get my chance to make up for TITAN's deficiencies when DEMON comes out...