Tuesday, May 11, 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

I was very saddened to read of the recent death of Frank Frazetta. I first encountered his work in the late 1970s, and I've been a fan ever since. I even foolishly attempted to emulate his style when I was a kid, but gave up when I realized that it was futile. If I practiced for a thousand years I'd never be as good as he was.

The first place I ever saw Frazetta's work was on the covers of the Conan the Barbarian novels. I didn't even like the Conan stories very much, but I bought several of the books just to have some samples of his art. Not to take anything away from Robert E. Howard, but I can pretty much guarantee that Conan wouldn't be as popular or well known as he is today if not for Frank Frazetta's awesome covers.

Don't believe me? Check out the images below. On the left is the original cover of Conan the Barbarian from the 1930s, and on the right is one of Frazetta's covers. Now tell me which one more accurately portrays the raw power and savagery of the Conan character, and which one you'd be more inclined to buy? There's no contest.



Frazetta had a long and varied career and in addition to his paperback covers, he worked in comic books, comic strips, movie posters and even advertising. He even drew Al Capp's Lil' Abner strip for a time.

Frazetta was definitely a man's man. When a series of strokes left him unable to use his right hand, he simply switched to his left hand and learned to draw and paint all over again. After hearing that, I figured he was invulnerable and would outlive us all. Alas, it was not to be, as he died of a stroke May 10, 2010. Rest in peace, Frank.

2 comments:

  1. "Not to take anything away from Robert E. Howard, but I can pretty much guarantee that Conan wouldn't be as popular or well known as he is today if not for Frank Frazetta's awesome covers."

    Since Frazetta's passing I really don't want to get into this debate, but I'll just say: if Frazetta was responsible for Conan being as famous as he is today, why aren't the likes of Thongor, Brak and Jongor as famous as Conan? They certainly didn't sell as strongly as the Conan books despite having awesome Frazetta covers, and the non-Frazetta Conan books with covers from Duillo and Vallejo sold almost as well as the Frazetta Conans.

    Frazetta undoubtedly was a factor in the great explosion of the Lancers, but he wasn't the only factor: the character of Conan, Robert E. Howard, price and printing technology all played a part. It was a perfect storm. Also, that picture of Conan the Conqueror was from the 1950s, not the 1930s.

    All said, Frazetta is quite possibly *the* iconic image of Conan from which all modern incarnations are inspired - the comics, films, video games. Howard and Frazetta complemented each other perfectly, and when together, they created nothing short of magic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I tend to side with Bob on this one. I've also read Tarzan didn't take off until Frank Frazetta painted a cover.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails
 
Site Meter