Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010

I am eight years old.  In the science fiction section of the public library, I have found a book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who created Tarzan.   The book is called A Princess Of Mars, and it will change my life forever.  This is the cover illustration:

A landscape like nothing I’ve ever seen before, strange monsters, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and standing over it all the triumphant hero, powerful and free, sword held aloft before the twin moons of an alien world.  I didn’t know much at eight years old, but I recognized adventure, fantasy, and pure wish-fulfillment when I saw it.

Frank Frazetta was one of the greatest fantasy artists of all time.  Many, many people tried to imitate his barbarians, princesses, monsters and scenery.  No one ever came close.  His paintings live. Energy, motion, fury, strength, made manifest on canvas.  You can talk about his lighting, his composition, or his grasp of anatomy and how to effectively exaggerate it.  You can talk about his impossibly beautiful women, his superhumanly powerful bloody-handed warriors, the incredible menace of his beasts and monsters.  About the richness of the worlds he created.

For me, what it comes down to is this: Frank Frazetta believed in what he painted, and that made it come to life.  Robert E. Howard’s prose has that quality, and I believe that’s why Frazetta is the definitive Conan artist.

It’s why he is the definitive Tarzan artist.

It’s why Frazetta is in a class by himself as a fantasy illustrator.  Without peer.

Looking at his art is the only connection I have to the man.  But it’s enough of a connection to make me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut, knowing he’s dead.

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One Response to “Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010”

  1. Wow, that’s some awesome art. I loved the Tarzan books as a kid; I’ll have to check out A Princess of Mars.

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