If you were a kid growing up in the 70s and early 80s, and you were a kid who read a lot, and probably read a lot of cheap fantasy and science fiction paperbacks or comic books, then chances are almost certain you have encountered the artistic work of Mr. Frank Frazetta. You didn’t have to picture what Conan the Barbarian or John Carter of Mars looked like, Frank Frazetta showed you. Frazetta’s distinctive, moody style set the visual tone for genre paperback books and comics for at least three decades. So many artists have followed his inspiration it’s hard to remember that if there was a single guy to take credit for the fantasy art explosion after the 70s, it was probably Frazetta. Frank Frazetta labored in the trenches of commercial illustration and comic book artistry for decades, starting at age 16. His distinctive style– a dominant central figure, usually a brawny heroic type with well defined musculature, accompanied by one or more beautiful women with over-sized womanly attributes, became a defining visual of genre fiction during that time. Frazetta was so prolific during his lifetime I could scarcely do the man justice here. Many famous genre characters were given life by his brush.
Frank Frazetta passed on yesterday.. a sudden stroke at his residence in Florida. He had had a rough last decade of his life– plagued by ill health, declining faculties and an increasingly intense family squabble that eventually led to one of his children being arrested for breaking into the Frazetta museum and stealing 80 of his paintings. I like to think that Mr. Frazetta has passed into a better reality now– but I know loyal SF/Fantasy geeks like me will continue to miss him. Rest In Peace, Frank Frazetta.