Ken Frank (D&D illustrator)

BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
There are two men named Ken Frank whom I believe are probably the same person, but I am wondering if anyone can prove it for sure.

The first Ken Frank I was aware of was a man who did D&D artwork for TSR throughout the 1990s: https://web.archive.org/web/2008121...r.net/rpgdb.php?op=showcreator&creatorid=1342

The other Kenneth C. Frank Sr. appears here in the Social Security Death index: (12/25/1924 – 3/19/1999): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J16F-CJH and there is a memorial for him on Findagrave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/155602620 This man has an obit published on 3/22/1999 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that shows he was living in West Bend, died 3/19/1999 at the age of 74, wife's maiden name was Ellen Brown, children were Charles Frank and Kenneth Frank Jr., both of West Bend. He had several siblings, including a sister named Helen Bublitz, and he was buried in Washington County Memorial Park. It also confirms that he was a former illustrator for the Milwaukee Journal newspaper, the Mercury Marine company, and different ad agencies including ownership of Draw Partners agency.

The reason I believe these two men are probably the same man is this blog post: http://greyhawkery.blogspot.com/2010/12/greyhawk-art-ken-frank.html to which a man named William Bublitz replied, and said he was a nephew of the Ken Frank who did the Greyhawk artwork near the end of his life, and died in 1999 at age 75, previously worked for Boeing, in the art department of the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel, before going on to head the art department for Mercury-Marine in Fond Du Lac, WI, retired from there and became a freelance artist, and became involved with TSR, and that he lived in West Bend, WI from 1970 or 1971 until his death.

I do not see a reason to doubt it, that this nephew was lying or mistaken, but being the stickler for verification that I am, it leaves me wondering if we can find a way to prove this connection beyond his recollection. The obit does not mention Boeing nor TSR, but it confirms everything else he said. This text archive mentions an illustration that Ken Frank did for the MJS in 1978: https://archive.org/stream/TwoCenturies/Two-Centuries_djvu.txt although I did not see any MJS illustrations of his online to compare to his D&D art. Can anyone find anything else that links all of this together?
 

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BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
Maybe someone with better Google-fu than me can find something that makes a clear connection?
 


geneome

First Post
Thank you for looking into this! I too saw the William Bublitz comment and took it at face value, but you've certainly done a bit more and as a fan of his D&D work, this is worth pursuing. Looking around at the Journal archives I did find a Ken Frank piece (attached) two days after your citation: July 6th, 1976, page 39. Given the quality of the image and the span of years between this and the start his D&D work (~14 years), it is very hard to determine if the two are the same, though I do see some similarly in style such as the posing of the subjects. I'd love to know if you ever confirm the connection!
 

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BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
Yeah, definitely could be! There isn't much in the way of full human figures on the Greyhawkery page to compare to, and vice versa I don't think we will see undead, dragons, or medieval style architecture in the Milwaukee newspaper, but I agree that the style is close enough to be believable. Did you find that at the Google News Archive?: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=jvrRlaHg2sAC And thanks for posting it!

I would also definitely like to find out more about him leading the team that designed the interior of the 747 for Boeing!
 

geneome

First Post
The Google archive is where I found the image. In terms of posing, I was comparing the image to his TSR and Spellfire cards that he illustrated (which is where my main Ken Frank focus is), and there is many a humanoid subject that can be found in those. The Boeing connection only adds to his prestige in my mind and and I hope it is documented somewhere!
 

BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
Me too! I have not had any luck so far finding more about him and Boeing, but hopefully something will come up.
 


BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
OK, yes! I would say this image stylistically is much more similar to his D&D work, and more importantly I think his signature there resembles the one I have seen on some of his D&D illustrations!
 






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