Monday, May 10, 2010

Died: Frank Frazetta (February 9, 1928 - May 10, 2010)

Frank Frazetta died on April 10, 2010 from complications arising from a stroke. He was 82. 

Something tells me Frazetta needs no introduction, but just in case you're unfamiliar with the man and his work, it's safe to say that he was the most important fantasy artist of all time. He also contributed to science fiction, though not nearly as much as I'd have liked... (Guess he didn't get my memo.) 

John Carter of Mars artwork

Frazetta made a name for himself in the Fifties as a comics artist on everything from Westerns to crime stories to science fiction -- specifically, Buck Rogers. However, he became a sensation when he began painting covers for Ace Books' Conan titles in the mid Sixties. With his tight and bulging muscles, lanky hair, and simmering eyes, and wielding the mother of all giant swords, Frazetta's Conan became the Conan for the next 40 years. 

Frazetta's first Conan cover, for Conan The Adventurer (Ace Books, 1966)

Buck Rogers (inked by Wally Wood!)

Buck and Wilma menaced by a... thing... 

One ray gun beats eight tentacles every time!

Frazetta was also known for his cover art on the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars books; works for Ray Bradbury; and more sword-and-sorcery stories than I could ever possibly list. Frazetta contributed to Mad Magazine, painted movie posters, worked on numerous album covers, and collaborated with animator Ralph Bakshi on the film Fire and Ice. Books collecting his paintings have sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and recently, one of his Conan paintings sold for $1 million to Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet. 

Promo art for the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. 

More early BSG promo art. If only the show really looked this good... 

More John Carter of Mars artwork. (I believe... someone correct me if I'm wrong!)

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Frazetta's paintings. I'll probably never own one -- even his sketches go for thousands of dollars -- but I've often considered collecting the paperbacks he illustrated in the Sixties. It might be fun...


  1. Nice memories and sentiments. His artwork directly influenced my reading and interpreting science fiction and fantasy, and for that I'll always be thankful. On a slightly more humorous note, his Molly Hatchet LP covers did not have the same influence on my musical tastes. ;-)

    Seriously, Doc, nice little memorial ...

  2. I've always enjoyed Frazetta's art more than I've enjoyed many of the books he's illustrated. Still, now that I'm older, I'd like to revisit some of the John Carter and Conan books.

    As for Molly Hatchet... I can't disagree with you. I've got pretty eclectic musical taste, from space-age lounge to death metal to synth pop to classic rock, but I've never really been a Molly Hatchet fan. Great band name, though, and clearly they've got good taste in cover artists. But I'll leave it at that!

  3. Thanks for the memorial Doc. Frazetta has always been a long time favorite illustrator of mine, since I began reading all the Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks when I was 13. He was a big influence on my drawing subject matter too!

  4. Was sorry to hear of his passing. He was a big influence on my early artistic scribblings, I even tried to paint a Frazetta mural on my bedroom wall in oil paints, no less.

    Years ago while at my Aunts house (the one who knew Forrest Ackerman) she had some other sci-fi artist illustrations (just books, not the actual drawings) and I did a drawing of a skull wearing a helmet by, according to her, another well-known Sci-Fi artist. I wish I could remember which Sci-Fi artist that was whose work I reproduced.

    Doc, if I find the drawing I did and posted it, I imagine you could tell me who the original artist was? It's bothered me all these years. The skull itself is not "Sci-Fi" per se, but perhaps you'd recognize the style?

  5. P.S. Finally able to "Follow" your blog.

    For a while back there, blogger wouldn't let me "follow" anyone until the glitch was fixed. Sorry for the delay!

  6. No worries! I knew you were here in spirit...

    If you'd like to email me the scan, I can pass it around to people I know -- and post it to my blog -- to see if it rings any bells. Click the button at the top of my blog to get my email address (it's in my profile page).

  7. Thanks, Doc. All my old sketches are in a portfolio somewhere out in my Studio. Will send you a photo when I dig it out. Should be within reach.

    I also believe it was John Carter of Mars artwork pictured in your photo. Mom was a Sci Fi fan as well and had that book, as I recall. Or one of them, if it was a series?


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