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R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta has died. One of the giants of SF and fantasy art. In his heydey, it was said that having a Frazetta cover on your paperback would double your sales. I have no idea whether that was true, but most of us believed it, and dreamed of one day having one of his paintings on our own books. Frazetta had a profound influence on many artists who came after him as well, some of whom went on to become giants in their own right. Jeff Jones in particular comes to mind, but there were many others.

Frazetta's vision of Conan, as seen on the covers of the Lancer paperback collections of the 60s and 70s, became the definitive picture of the character... still is, actually, though he bears only a passing resemblence to the Cimmerian as Robert E. Howard described him. The success of that line sparked a REH revival and brought many of his other works back into print as well... Bran Mak Morn, King Kull, Solomon Kane, etc.

And this comes hard on the heels of the death of John Schoenherr, another titan.

The world of SF and fantasy art is much poorer than it was a few months ago.


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Sad to hear that. He was like the Remington of fantasy, stirring one's imagination as much as the words within.
May. 11th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
In my mind's eye I have always seen Dany's final triumphant ride on her dragon (the black one) over to Westeros done in the style of Frazetta.
May. 11th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
Frazetta: an icon, no doubt. A sad, inevitable event to lose another one of the great ones.

I'm sure Alex Ross was influenced by the man. The comic book industry continues to turn out amazing, evolving talent, which is of course another legacy of Frank Frazetta.

May. 11th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Wow. I have followed his work for a long time. My father grew up on east 11th st in brooklyn, across the street from the Frazettas. After wwII my dad apprenticed with Frank's father, Al, to learn the craft of stone setting. Sometimes, when things were slow, dad would interact with Frank (who was somewhat younger). Frank would draw the most amazing and detailed pictures in chalk on the pavement. Then the rain would wash them away. Interestingly, my father holds the distinction of teaching Frank to ride a bike. He will be missed.
May. 11th, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)

Think of his influence on every fantasy video game ever made! RIP to a great artist.
May. 11th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
He was my favorite. His sf/fantasy paintings always inspired wonder--that there was a fantastic world beyond the borders of the canvas.
May. 11th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who bought books simply because of Frazetta's covers.
May. 13th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
That was me! Are we friends? ;)
May. 11th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
"Fire & Ice"
I read your note, looked up the NYT obit, and was reminded me that I have a copy of "Fire & Ice" around here somewhere. I'll have to sit down and re-watch it one night soon and drink a toast to the artist behind it.
May. 11th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
Boris Vallejo just never compared to Franzetta. He always had a darker more fantasy tone. Instead of the barrage of well muscled men, women, and beasts Boris is known for. He will be missed.
May. 11th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
He's had a big influence on other areas of pop culture as well, like album covers. He did covers for Molly Hatchet, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Wolfmother.
May. 13th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Covers from Art
"He did covers for ..."

Actually, he agreed to let them use is art, existing pictures, for their album covers. He may have done some specifically for albums, I'm not positive about that, but most of those albums you are thinking of were existing artwork they selected for album covers.

But your point is still valid. It's hard to think of those bands without picturing Frazetta's work. And those covers inspired later generations who wanted to capture that Heavy Metal Band vibe he established.
May. 11th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
I have had the privilege of going to the museum in Eastern PA where many of his original paintings are on display. Amazing, amazing sight to see.

And then to learn that later in life one of the strokes he had limited his ability to paint with his dominant hand, I think his right, so he taught himself to use his left, and I thought some of those pictures were as impressive as his earlier works. Maybe I am so impressed because I have trouble drawing a straight line with a ruler!

He will be missed.
May. 11th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
In eastern PA myself...can you tell me the name of that museum?
May. 12th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
you're not going to believe this - family squabbles have shut the museum, in Dec 2009

I found this link instead...

May. 11th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
In danger of dating myself here, but didn't he do the album covers for Molly Hatchet as well?
May. 12th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
Re: Frazetta
I think so - if I remember rightly, it was Frank's "Death Dealer" painting.
May. 11th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
Wow that's sad and very unfortunate. A friend and I were just talking about Frank's work earlier. Truly one of the greats.
May. 11th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
Shared remorse
I don't do a lot of posting, but I share your remorse. Frazetta was king and along with Vallejo, defined fantasy art in my youth. Another little piece of my childhood gone, but he will be fondly remembered. Rest in peace
May. 11th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
sad indeed..
This really brings me down. I am a huge fan of the late Karl Edward Wagner and his hero Kane. Frazetta did some of the Kane novel covers as well and they were marvellous. I believe that one of his most famous paintings - the rider on the hill with the curved axe, is meant to depict Kane or was inspired by Kane.

It makes you feel old when the heroes of your youth die..
May. 11th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
I will forever remember the Movie...
...Fire and Ice.

Frazetta shaped my young adolescent mind in many ways. Heavy Metal magazine, Fire and Ice. These images will stick with me forever.

May. 11th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
My favorite is this cover of Edgar Rice Burrough's "The Moon Maid" - which I read when I was about 14. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Rf9S3GkkeyI/SRxuQ-_kz6I/AAAAAAAAGt8/Up0gOAG-vSE/s320/frank+frazetta.+the+moon+maid+and+the+centaur.+001.jpg
May. 11th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you George for letting me mourn with you the death of this artistic wizard. As a kid of the 80s I was blown away with beauty and savagery of Frank Frazetta's art, I used to stare at my big brother's novel's collection -as I didn't like to read at the time- and wondered if the content of the book will match the greatness of the cover. RIP Frank and thank you for making me wish I was one of your heroes.
May. 11th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
A sad day indeed
I grew up with Frazetta's books in my house. His work always fascinated and inspired me, one of the very reasons I'm so much in to Fantasy today.

May. 11th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
And I forgot this, but he also did the cover of John Keel's famous book The Mothman Prophecies.

May. 11th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
A great loss. My first clear memory of coming into contact with Frazetta's work was at second hand -- an older cousin of mine was an amateur artist with some talent (he later went into becoming a successful window designer), and I always admired a skateboard that he had painted up with a really amazing scene of a barbarian leaping at some villainous warriors. Only in later years did I realize that he likely traced a Frazetta painting, or sketched something similar, and painted in deliberate homage to him.

Tom Spurgeon has provided a comprehensive obituary, while The Beat has some interesting details about his life and art.
May. 11th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
we lost a legend, thats for sure.
May. 11th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Man, I was an editorial assistant (for Jim Baen) at Ace Books back when Frazetta was still a paperback god. I think we still published the Conans. I know we bought a *lot* of Boris Vallejo covers, because he was painting in the tradition . . . . Well, the world turns, doesn't it?

OT: Have you seen this auction of original Canty art from your book? I'll send you more info offline, but for now:

Anything you can do to help boost the signal & get these sold will be deeply appreciated. It's for a very, very good cause:
May. 11th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
The world has lost one of the greats. He is one if not the biggest reason I got into fantasy when I was young. A few issues of 'Heavy Metal' and I was hooked into fantasy art by some incredible artists. Frank Frazetta was the best of the bunch in my opinion. He was one of the rare artists that wouldnt even need to sign his piece and you would undoubtedly know it was his. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
May. 12th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC)
Frank Frazetta died?! It is a sad day, what an amazing talent that changed the way we "SEE" Literature!! Farewell Frank: Ars longa, vita brevis!!!!
May. 12th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
A few years back there was a documentary done on his life. It gave very good insight into why he was special.

May. 12th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
I only discovered this through your site. I know that Frank had been in ill health recently, but it's still sad. I recently visited his museum in the Poconos in Pennsylvania and drank in many of his vibrant works. I absolutely love his style and think he was underrated as an artist. Not a genre, sci-fi, fantasy artist, but rather an artist in full. I'd recommend that anyone who hasn't seen it, see the documentary "Painting With Fire," which gives a great appreciation of what an interesting man Frazetta was. The guy was one of those rare Renaissance men who could have done any of a number of things, including professional sports. He chose to follow the path of art and we fans of science fiction and fantasy were treated to his rare talents. Frank truly has been often imitated and never duplicated. R.I.P.
May. 13th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
I wish that Frazetta could have done a gallery of the ASOIF characters
Dany and her warrior king. The Mountain that Rides. The Hound. These would have been great themes for Frazetta.
May. 13th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Those Conan illustrations were great but I must say, once I got my hands on Robert E. Howard's stories, L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter and all the other Conan imitators were not as interesting to read.
May. 14th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
A Song of Ice and Fire tends to evoke Frazetta-type images whenever I read it. Frazetta once said "A painting, it's something important; you want to look at it, maybe, forever. Who wants to look at just an ordinary hero forever? You want the ultimate, you pull out the stops and do everything in extremes. The extreme in beauty,if it fits. The extreme in ugliness if it fits; the extreme in terror if this is what's required. You know, I think this is one reason that so many different people enjoy my stuff, because so many extremes are jammed into it." G.R.R.M. could say the same thing and it would sum up his work perfectly.
May. 18th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
First Franzetta and then Dio, its been a horrible week for metal!
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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