R. I. P. Frank Frazetta (1928 – 2010)

Posted by Grey Thursday, May 13, 2010

Legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta has passed away on May 10th, 2010. He was 82.

Possibly the greatest contributor towards the creativity and artistry in the science fiction and fantasy genre, the name Frank Frazetta is bound to turn the heads of all sword-and-sorcery aficionado. We give our regards to the iconic illustrator as we pay tribute to his longstanding artistic career which had redefined the vision of generations to come.

A self-portrait by Frank Frazetta.

A prolific and highly regarded artist in the field, Brooklyn-born Frazetta started his career extremely early in his life, illustrating comic books for various genres from Westerns, fantasy, to mysteries, for EC Comics, National Comics, Avon Comics, and numerous other comic publishers at the age of 16. Frazetta then moved on to greater fame with his mature work in magazines such as Mad Magazine and Playboy. However, none will argue that Frazetta gained the greatest fanfare with his work on the covers of many paperback editions of adventure books. His rendition of "Conan" in 1966, visually redefined not only the mythos of the Barbarian himself but the entire genre of sword and sorcery.

With the overwhelming reception to the unique interpretation of Conan, Frazetta was soon commissioned to work on numerous book jackets from more Conan books to works by Edgar Rice Burroughs like “John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars” and “Tarzan and the Antmen”). It was soon realized that Frazetta's work alone is able to sell the books. As a result, Frazetta was given so much artistic freedom with his book jacket arts that on many occasion, his cover art only coincidentally matched the actual storyline in the books.

"I didn't read any of it... I drew him my way. It was really rugged. And it caught on. I didn't care about what people thought. People who bought the books never complained about it. They probably didn't read them."

Gaining further fame with the aforementioned works and his poster art for Woody Allen’s film, 'What’s New Pussycat?', Frazetta's career was yet launched to another peak with his very own creation, Death Dealer, a heavily-armored and horned warrior, which was soon used as the cover of rock band Molly Hatchet’s 1978 self-titled debut album. This connection with the Heavy Metal scene continued late last year when Metallica’s own Kirk Hammett spent $1 million to purchase the original cover artwork for Conan the Conqueror.

In 2003, Frazetta's career was highlighted in the documentary Frazetta: Painting With Fire. He passed away in a hospital near his Florida residence on May 10 as a result of stroke-related complications.

Let's take a look at some of the many iconic works of the legendary artist who have graced our generation with his highly imaginary pieces.


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