One of the finest fantasy illustrators of the 20th Century left this plane on Monday. Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) was justifiably renown as an illustrator of dramatic and beautiful works that adorned book covers and graced the pages of now classic works featuring Tarzan and Conan The Barbarian, among many others.
You can draw a line directly from Frazetta's work to most of the important illustration that was to come from the mid-to-late 1900's. It is particularly easy to see his influence in the work of artists like Boris Vallejo.
In the field of illustration Frazetta was a star. You can imagine that becoming so famous would be a difficult accomplishment for any artist that earns his living crafting works by commission. It is the sterling quality of his work that caused him to be in such demand for his entire career. These aren't just images dashed-off with little thought, but major works of art that just happen to frequently accompany B-rated fiction. Publishers knew that Frazetta's work could gain them sales. Readers would view the drama and thrilling adventure-fantasy inherent in his compositions and believe the same held true for the work under the book covers. Frazetta's art gave class to pulp and then took on a life of its own when the pulp became forgotten.
Everything is beyond larger-than-life in a Frank Frazetta painting; The men are wilder, bolder, robust with vigor and muscular virility, the woman more passionately possessed and hot-blooded, the creatures more powerfully threatening. The environments depicted are as intense and dangerous as the denizens. But, above all, the art is remarkable for creating a palpable sense of other-worldly time and place. It is this hallmark that captivates his legion of admirers.
Here is a collection of his extraordinary work:
With much thanks to faithful follower, Leigh Eel, for informing me of Mr. Frazetta's demise and providing the link, above.