It’s Frank Frazetta’s Birthday

Frank Frazetta, one of the greatest fantasy artists to ever stride this land, was born on this date (February 9) in 1928.  I’m not even going to try to put the impact his art has had on my life into words, much less that of the fantasy field.  Here are a couple of my favorite works of Frazetta’s.

The image on the left is the promotional poster for a Frazetta exhibit I saw in Austin last spring.  That trip has really been on my mind today, maybe because the weather has been so unseasonably warm.  The image was used on the cover of one of Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane books.  You can read about my trip in this post.

Probably my favorite of the Frazetta Conan covers is the one shown on the right.  It’s  for Conan the Usurper.  I saw this one at the Frazetta exhibit, and let me tell you, none of the reproductions do the images justice.  It was awesome to stand in front of some of those paintings and see close up the detail and the brushwork.  The painting were larger than what you see on a book cover, of course, and the detail really stood out.

I think the thing that has always captured my imagination about this picture is the snake.  I hate snakes.  There’s just something evil about them.  I’m not sure why, but they’ve always given me the willies.

Frazetta is gone now, but his work lives on.  While it might be easy to think that with his popularity, there will always be copies available to enjoy, that’s a dangerous way to think.  Today hot property is too often tomorrow’s has-been, or worse completely forgotten.  So take a moment over the next few days to admire a Frazetta painting, especially if it’s one you’ve not seen before or not seen in a while.

Update:  Here are tributes by David J. West and Woelf Dietrich.  They’re both worth checking out.

8 thoughts on “It’s Frank Frazetta’s Birthday

  1. Woelf Dietrich

    Few artists today capture the pure, unbridled fire typical Frazetta’s illustrations. His warriors were visceral, pulsing with raw power and savagery while his women exuded pure lustful sexuality with a good dose of lethality you don’t see anymore. I miss that.

    From a forever fan.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I agree. Too many of Frazetta’s imitators today have a slick, porn-film vibe to their work that just doesn’t connect with me. I’ll not name any names, but Frazetta, Krenkel, and artists from that generation seem to capture the essence of S&S, sword and planet, and other fantasy subgenres. While there are some talented and amazing artists, styles and techniques have changed. So can see the same thing in writing. I think I’ll stop. I don’t have time to rant.

  2. Paul McNamee

    Frazetta was a giant, just no other way to classify him.

    The one thing that always stands out to me with Frazetta against other artists is the MOTION in his action paintings.

    They are still, of course, but you could swear they are almost moving. If he wasn’t painting straight-up portraits, his scenes were always brimming at the edge of leaping off the canvas.

    As writers, we know we need to create suspension of disbelief. Frazetta had the ability to suspend the static of a still painting and give his work vibrancy, motion and immediacy that very few can match.

    1. Woelf Dietrich

      Agreed, and that was and still is one of the things people talk about: Frazetta’s ability to capture violence in motion. He makes us feel like spectators who have accidently stepped into the midst of a fierce battle or conflict.


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