Frank Frazetta  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Frank Frazetta (February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010) was an American fantasy and science fiction artist, noted for work in comic books, paperback book covers, paintings, posters, record-album covers, and other media. He was the subject of a 2003 documentary.



Early life and career

Frazetta was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City. At the age of eight, with the insistence of his school teachers, Frazetta's parents enrolled him in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. He attended the academy for eight years under the tutelage of Michael Falanga, an Italian fine artist. Falanga was struck by Frazetta's significant talent. Frazetta's abilities flourished under Falanga, who dreamed of sending Frazetta to Europe, at his own expense, to further his studies, but Falanga died suddenly in 1944. When the school closed about a year later, Frazetta was forced to find work to earn a living.

At 16, Frazetta started drawing for comic books in various genres: Westerns, fantasy, mysteries, histories, and other contemporary themes. Some of his earliest work was in funny animal comics, which he signed as "Fritz." During this period he turned down job offers from giants such as Walt Disney. In the early 1950s, he worked for EC Comics, National Comics, (including the superhero feature "Shining Knight"), Avon, and several other comic book companies. Much of his work in comic books was done in collaboration with friend Al Williamson and mentor Roy Krenkel.

NoticedTemplate:Cn because of his work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies, Frazetta started working with Al Capp on Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner. Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time, as well as assisting Dan Barry on the Flash Gordon daily strip.Template:Cn He married Massachusetts native Eleanor Kelly in New York City in November 1956. The two would have four children: Frank Jr., Billy, Holly and Heidi.

In 1961, after nine years with Capp, Frazetta returned to comic books. Eventually he joined Harvey Kurtzman on the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy magazine.

Hollywood and book covers

In 1964, Frazetta's painting of Beatle Ringo Starr for a Mad magazine ad parody caught the eye of United Artists studios. He was approached to do the movie poster for What's New Pussycat?, and earned the equivalent of his yearly salary in one afternoon. He did several other movie posters (see notable works). Also during this time, he turned down an offer from a talent scout to play for the New York Giants.

Frazetta also produced paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. His interpretation of Conan visually redefined the genre of sword and sorcery, and had an enormous influence on succeeding generations of artists. From this point on, Frazetta's work was in great demand. His covers were used for other paperback editions of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs books, such as those from the Tarzan and Barsoom (John Carter of Mars) series. He also did several pen and ink illustrations for many of these books. His cover art only coincidentally matched the storylines inside the books, as Frazetta once explained: "I didn't read any of it... I drew him my way. It was really rugged. And it caught on. I didn't care about what people thought. People who bought the books never complained about it. They probably didn't read them."

After this time, most of Frazetta's work was commercial in nature, including paintings and illustrations for movie posters, book jackets, and calendars. Frazetta's commercial work includes several cover paintings and a few comic stories for the Warren Publishing horror magazines Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella.

Once Frazetta secured a reputation, movie studios lured him to work on animated movies. Most, however, would give him participation in name only, with creative control held by others.Template:Cn In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with producer Ralph Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice, released in 1983. Many of the characters and most of the story were Frazetta's creations.Template:Cn The movie proved a commercial disappointment,Template:Cn and Frazetta returned to his roots in painting and pen-and-ink illustrations.

Frazetta's paintings have been used by a number of recording artists as cover art for their albums. Molly Hatchet's first two albums feature "The Death Dealer" and "Dark Kingdom", respectively. Dust's second album, Hard Attack, features "Snow Giants". Nazareth used "The Brain" for its 1977 album Expect No Mercy. Frazetta also created new cover artwork for Buddy Bought the Farm, the second CD of the surf horror band "The Dead Elvi".Template:Cn

In 2008, the cover illustration to the Burroughs paperback "Escape on Venus" sold at auction for $251,000.Template:Cn Frazetta retained the original Conan paintings, and long refused to part with them. Many were displayed at the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 2009, Frazetta's "Conan the Conqueror" painting was the first to be offered for sale, and was purchased by a private collector for $1 million.

Later life and career

Frazetta's primary commercial works were in oil, but he also worked with watercolor, ink, and pencil alone. In his later life, Frazetta was plagued by a variety of health problems, including a thyroid condition that went untreated for many years. In the 2000s, a series of strokes impaired Frazetta's manual dexterity to a degree that he switched to drawing and painting with his left hand. He was the subject of the feature documentary Frank Frazetta: Painting With Fire (2003).

As of 2009, Frazetta lived on a Template:Convert estate in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. A small museum, open to the public, is maintained on the estate. On July 17, 2009, his wife and business partner, Eleanor "Ellie" Frazetta, died after a year-long battle with cancer. Following her death, Frazetta announced the appointment of Robert Pistella and Steve Ferzoco as his exclusive agents, through their company Frazetta Management Corp. The Pocono Record newspaper reported that by December of that year, Frazetta was "suffering from dementia".

On December 9, 2009, Frazetta's son, Alfonso Frank Frazetta, 52, known as Frank Jr., was arrested for attempting to steal approximately 90 paintings from the Frazetta museum. He was accompanied by Frank Bush, 49, and Kevin Clement, 54. His wife, Lori Frazetta, told state police that Frank Jr. and Ellie had run the family business until Ellie's death, when infighting over the paintings began. The son maintains he was trying to prevent the paintings from being sold, per the wishes of his father, whom he says had given him power of attorney over his estate. After siblings Billy Frazetta, Holly Frazetta Taylor, and Heidi Grabin filed a lawsuit against Frank Jr. in March 2010, claiming misappropriation of their father's work, which they said the artist had transferred to a company controlled by those three, the family issued a statement on April 23, 2010, that said, "all of the litigation surrounding his family and his art has been resolved. All of Frank's children will now be working together as a team to promote his ... collection of images...." The Monroe County district attorney later that day said he would drop theft and burglary charges against Frazetta Jr. at the request of family members.

Frazetta died of a stroke on May 10, 2010, in a hospital near his residence in Florida.


Frazetta has influenced many artists within the genre of fantasy and science fiction. Yusuke Nakano, a lead artist for Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series, cites Frazetta as an influence. Joseph Vargo, fantasy artist and musician (Nox Arcana), cites Frazetta as a primary influence and his art calendars for the past ten years mark Frazetta's birthday.

List of works

Selected paintings

Title and year painted

  • Lost City - 1964
  • Reassembled Man - 1964
  • Land of Terror - 1964
  • The Sorcerer - 1966
  • Wolfman - 1965
  • Winged Terror - 1966
  • Conan the Adventurer - 1966
  • Sea Monster - 1966
  • Spider Man - 1966
  • Conan - 1966
  • Conan the Conqueror - 1967
  • Conan the Usurper - 1967
  • Snow Giants - 1967
  • The Brain - 1967
  • Bran Mak Morn - 1967
  • Cat Girl - 1967
  • Conan the Avenger - 1968
  • Rogue Roman - 1968
  • Swamp Ogre - 1968
  • Mongol Tyrant - 1969
  • Egyptian Queen - 1969
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex - 1969
  • Woman with Scythe - 1969
  • Vampirella - 1969
  • The Return of Jongor - 1970
  • Pony Tail - 1970
  • Nightstalker - 1970
  • A Princess of Mars - 1970
  • Downward to the Earth - 1970
  • Eternal Champion - 1970
  • John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars - 1970
  • Sun Goddess - 1970
  • Tree of Death - 1970
  • Conan the Destroyer - 1971
  • Desperation - 1971
  • Flying Reptiles - 1971
  • Tanar of Pellucidar - 1971
  • Atlantis Rising - 1972
  • Creatures of the Night - 1972
  • Birdman - 1972
  • Black Panther - 1972
  • Black Star - 1972
  • Carson of Venus - 1972
  • Flash for Freedom - 1972
  • Ghoul Queen - 1972
  • Monster Out of Time - 1972
  • Serpent - 1972
  • Tarzan and the Antmen - 1972
  • The Silver Warrior - 1972
  • Gollum - 1973
  • The Death Dealer I - 1973
  • Conan of Aquilonia - 1973
  • A Fighting Man of Mars - 1973
  • At the Earth's Core - 1974
  • Flashman on the Charge - 1974
  • Grizzly Bear - 1974
  • Invaders - 1974
  • Swords of Mars - 1974
  • The Mammoth - 1974
  • Thuvia Maid of Mars - 1974
  • Paradox - 1975
  • Bloodstone - 1976
  • Dark Kingdom - 1976
  • Darkness at Times Edge - 1976
  • Fire Demon - 1976
  • Madame Derringer - 1976
  • Sheba - 1976
  • The Eighth Wonder - 1976
  • Kane on the Golden Sea - 1977
  • Golden Girl - 1977
  • Castle of Sin - 1978
  • Cave Demon - 1978
  • Night Winds - 1978
  • King Kong - 1979
  • Las Vegas - 1979
  • Seven Romans - 1979
  • Sound - 1979
  • Witherwing - 1979
  • Savage World - 1981
  • Witch - 1981
  • Fire and Ice Movie Poster - 1983
  • Cat Girl - 1984
  • The Disagreement - 1985
  • The Death Dealer II - 1986
  • Victorious - 1986
  • Predators - 1987
  • The Death Dealer III - 1987
  • The Death Dealer IV - 1987
  • The Moons Rapture - 1987
  • The Countess and the Greenman - 1989
  • The Death Dealer V - 1989
  • Cat Girl II - 1990
  • The Death Dealer VI - 1990
  • Dawn Attack - 1991
  • Pillow Book Cover - 1994
  • Beauty Vs Beast - 1995
  • Shi - 1995
  • From Dusk till Dawn - 1996

  • Black Emperor - Date Unknown
  • Geisha - Date Unknown
  • Masai Warrior - Date Unknown
  • Primitive Beauty - Date Unknown
  • Queen Kong - Date Unknown
  • Sorceress - Date Unknown
  • Tarzan Meets La of Opar - Date Unknown
  • Tempest Witch - Date Unknown
  • The Godmakers - Date Unknown
  • The Moon Maid and the Centaur - Date Unknown
  • The Mucker - Date Unknown

Album covers


Movie posters


See also


  • Book Testament: The Life and Art of Frank Frazetta, ISBN 1-887424-62-8
  • Movie Frank Frazetta: Painting With Fire
  • Magazine article "Mr. Fantasy", Circus, November 14, 1978

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Frank Frazetta" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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