Fantasy artist Frank Frazetta died Monday. He was 82.
Frazetta has had a history of strokes. He was hospitalized Sunday after he returned from a Mother’s Day dinner with his family on Sunday night and complained of feeling ill. Emergency medical services were called and Mr. Frazetta was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., where he died on Monday.
Frazetta is known for his vivid colors and bold brushstrokes. His most famous art is that of fantasy images (I have had a collection of them since the 70's). His first comic art was published when he was only 16 for Tally Ho comics. Other assignments followed, allowing Frazetta to show his versatility (from loveable animals to westerns to sci-fi). He began his career working on daily comic strips like “Buck Rogers,” “Flash Gordon” and “Li’l Abner." In the 50s he moved into comic books, those of his are best known for magazine covers for Warren Publications (Creepy, Eerie, Vamiperella, Blazing Combat) and in the 60s with paperback art for Edgar Rice Burroughs adventures (Tarzan, sci-fi titles), Robert E Howard barbarian epics (Conan), and John Carter of Mars.
Frazetta did several movie posters in the 1960s, usually for comedies. an more action-oriented films in the 70s. He drew the movie poster for “What’s New Pussycat?” His realistic renderings of otherwordly scenarios (and barely clad women) made him the ideal candidate to illustrate the album covers for popular heavy metal albums like Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” and Nazareth’s “Expect No Mercy.”
On YouTube, fans have created scores of tribute videos to Frazetta instantly-recognizable work--including the video embedded above, with more than 19,000 views (NSFW). Edward Champion linked to some great safe-for-work examples of his work, including a Mad Max poster and an iconic fantasy image.
Comics Beat writes: "His covers for Conan, Tarzan and other rough hewn heroes created a visceral, violent, erotic yet somehow still nuanced visual style that has been endlessly imitated but never surpassed -- Frazetta's imagery of brawny, relentless swordsmen, seductive, fleshy sirens and hellfire breathing monsters had a gut level impact because it came from the gut -- his many followers were just tracing without the passion of the originals."
Frazetta's art was such a staple of my childhood and early adulthood. As a science fiction and fantasy addict, there wasn't much that I read that wasn't illustrated by Frazetta. Several of his reprints hang in my livingroom. He will be truly missed.