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Frank Frazetta
Birth name Frank Frazetta
Born February 9, 1928 (1928-02-09) (age 82)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality Italian American
Field illustration, painting, sculpting
Training Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts
Movement Fantasy & Science fiction illustration
Awards Chesley Award (1988, 1995, 1997)
Hugo Award (1966)
Spectrum Grand Master of Fantastic Art Award (1995)

Frank Frazetta (born February 9, 1928) is 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 is 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,[citation needed] Frazetta's parents enrolled him in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Frazetta's abilities flourished under Falanga, who dreamed of sending Frazetta to Europe, at his own expense, to further his studies,[citation needed] but Falanga died suddenly in 1944[citation needed]. When the school closed about a year later, Frazetta was forced to find work to earn a living.

Chief Victorio Western story by Williamson and Frazetta)

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[citation needed] Roy Krenkel.

Noticed because of his work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies, Frazetta started working with Al Capp on his Li'l Abner comic strip. Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time, as well as assisting Dan Barry on the Flash Gordon daily strip. He married Massachusetts native Eleanor Kelly in New York City in November 1956.[1] The two would have have four children: Frank Jr., Billy, Holly and Heidi.[1]

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 Ringo Starr, of the pop band The Beatles 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.[citation needed] 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.[2]

Frazetta's cover artwork for Conan the Usurper (1967).

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.[citation needed] 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."[3]

Since this time, most of Frazetta's work has been commercial in nature, providing 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 he secured a reputation, movie studios started trying to lure him to work on animated movies. Most, however, would give him participation in name only, with creative control held by others. In the early 1980s, a movie deal was offered which would give him most creative control. Frazetta worked with animated movie 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. The movie proved a commercial disappointment, 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 their 1977 album Expect No Mercy. Frazetta also created brand new cover artwork that appeared on "Buddy Bought The Farm", the second CD of the surf horror band "The Dead Elvi". Recently, Wolfmother used "The Sea Witch" as the cover for their self-titled debut. Wolfmother has also used other Frazetta paintings for the covers of their singles and for some of their merchandise, such as t-shirts.

In 2008, the cover illustration to the Burroughs paperback "Escape on Venus" sold at auction for $251,000. 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.[3]

Later life and career

Frazetta's primary commercial works are in oil, but he also works with watercolor, ink and pencil alone. In his later life, Frazetta has been 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 has switched to drawing and painting with his left hand.[citation needed] He is the subject of the feature documentary Frank Frazetta: Painting With Fire (2003).

As of 2009, Frazetta lives on a 67-acre (271,000 m²) estate in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. They maintain a small museum, open to the public, on the estate. On July 17, 2009, his wife and business partner, Eleanor "Ellie" Frazetta, died after a year-long battle with cancer.[1] Following her death, Frazetta announced the appointment of Robert Pistella and Steve Ferzoco as his exclusive agents, through their company Frazetta Management Corp.[citation needed] The Pocono Record newspaper reported that by December of that year, Frazetta was "suffering from dementia".[4]

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.[4] He was accompanied by Frank Bush, 49, and Kevin Clement, 54.[4] 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.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6]

List of works

Selected paintings

  • Golden Girl - 1952
  • Lost City - 1960
  • Reassembled Man - 1965
  • Sorcerer - 1965
  • Werewolf - 1965
  • Winged Terror - 1965
  • Conan the Adventurer - 1966
  • Sea Monster - 1966
  • Spider Man - 1966
  • Conan - 1967
  • Conan the Conqueror - 1967
  • Conan the Usurper - 1967
  • Land of Terror - 1967
  • Mongol Tyrant - 1967
  • Nightstalker - 1967
  • Pony Tail - 1967
  • Snow - 1967
  • The Brain - 1967
  • The Return of Jongor - 1967
  • Conan the Avenger - 1968
  • Rogue Roman - 1968
  • Swamp Ogre - 1968
  • Bran Mak Morn - 1969
  • Creatures of the Night - 1969
  • Egyptian Queen - 1969
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex - 1969
  • Woman with Scythe - 1969
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Vampirella - 1996
  • A Fighting Man of Mars - Date Unknown
  • 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

External links

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