Kelly Freas at 95

Frank Kelly Freas was born today, August 27, in 1922. He passed away in 2005.  Freas’s artwork graced the covers of magazines and books.  His style was unmistakeable. Some of his covers, such as “Martians Go Home”, are classics.  One of my most prized possessions is a signed print of Skylab that appeared as the cover of the June 1973 issue of Analog.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him.  There was a calendar of his art in the 1990s. I still have it. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any others that I know of.

Rather than write about him, here are some of the covers he did. These are all from my library that I could put my hands on quickly. I’d post images without the writing, but I don’t want to violate copyrights.

4 thoughts on “Kelly Freas at 95

  1. deuce

    When I think of classic SF art, Freas is who comes to mind. I’d have to say that I actually like Frazetta and Whelan better, but Kelly just *IS* classic SF art to me. What an incredible talent. He started at Weird Tales, painted — in my opinion — the best of the Gnome Press Conan covers and then went on to reign as the King of Classic SF Art for two decades.

    Props should also be given to Donald A. Wollheim at DAW Books. He gave Freas work when other editors thought it was time to put Kelly out to pasture.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Agreed. The first artist I became aware of from their style was Darrell K. Sweet, mainly because he did all those Alan Dean Foster covers in the 70s. As a teenager, I read of Foster’s Commonwealth novels I could find, and Sweet did most of them. But you’re right. There’s something about Freas’s work that simply is classic SF. Maybe it was because I saw his work on so many Analog covers I came across in second hand bookstores, but his work is what I visualize most often when I think about classic SF.

      And while Wollheim had his faults, his eye for cover art wasn’t one of them. I’ll by old DAW paperbacks when I come across them just for the art.

      I also neglected to mention that Freas did all the covers for Laser Books, something like 50 or 60 of them. Hmmm…now there’s an idea for a post.

    2. deuce

      Laser Books were where I first became aware of Freas as an artist. Laser Books get slammed, but Elwood got several worthwhile authors in print for the first time. Honestly, I’d rather read a random Laser than a random TOR taken off the shelves today.

      The first SFF artists I was aware of were Frazetta and Krenkel (Canaveral), Jeff Jones (Zebra) and Whelan (DAW). All in the span of 1975-1976. I started very young.

      1. Keith West Post author

        I picked up some Laser books last month when I was in Colorado but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. Even so, I agree with you about Tor.

        I starting reading adult SFF a couple of years after you (78-79). Jones, Frazetta, Freas, Sweet, Powers, Whelan, and H. R. van Dongen were artists I recognized early on.


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