RIP Frank Frazetta - Father of fantasy illustration

Artist Frank Frazetta passed away on Monday, 10 May from a stroke at the age of 82. "Who?" you may ask. Well, I admit that I had the same reaction two years ago with the passing of Gary Gygax. Evidently there are many fantasy creators and contributors out there whose work we are instantly familiar with, and passionate about, but whose names we fail to remember. Until it's too late...

Now the name Frank Frazetta was vaguely familiar to me but it wasn't until I started reading more about him that I realised the man is the father of fantasy illustration - more specifically Sword & Sorcery. I know that when I think of Sword & Sorcery as a fantasy sub-genre as a whole, it's Frazetta's stunning paintings that pass in front of my mind's eye before any kind of textual descriptor. Think bulky heroes with battle axes and fur Speedos, flinging themselves into battle. Think bikini-clad, voluptuous women sprawled on the floor, or clinging to the hero's legs. Frazetta may not have written the pulpy fantasy tales that triggered the Sword & Sorcery genre but he certainly defined its look, and massively boosted its popularity. I'm sure I'm not the only child of the 80's who stood stock-still in the video store, entranced by the Fire and Ice box art. Hot damn!

The point is: what Robert E. Howard is to written fantasy, Frank Frazetta is to illustrated fantasy.

For the record, Frazetta started working as a comic book artist in the 1940s but it wasn't until the 1960s when he was commissioned to paint the movie poster for What's New Pussycat? that Frazetta found his unique artistic style in demand. Although he created both posters and album covers, it was the paintings Frazetta produced for fantasy-adventure and sci-fi paperback covers that went on to define an entertainment genre visually, and secure the artist a well-deserved spot in 20th Century Pop Culture history.

Conan, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Vampirella - Frank Frazetta painted them all. And he created the striking (literally) Death Dealer.

There are many online collections of Frazetta's work. The Unofficial Frank Frazetta Fantasy Art Gallery, in particular, offers an excellent, extensive collection of images by the artist. Below is just a small selection of Frazetta's highly influential work.

Now praise be to Crom! May He justly reward Frank in the afterlife.


idrawgirls said…
These are the best of the best images from Frazetta EVER. Yeah, FRANK is definitely LARGER than LIFE. Thank for posting these. :) Whao!

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