The Life and Legacy of Frank Frazetta: The Master of Modern Fantasy Art


It is uncommon for an artist to determine an entire genre, but Frank Frazetta defied the odds.

For anybody with even a passing interest in fantasy art, Frank Frazetta will very likely need to have very little introduction. Identified as the “Godfather of Fantasy Art,” he is thought of one of the most renowned artists of the twentieth century—his title eternally intertwined with photos of brawny warriors and chesty maidens he so typically depicted in his operate. Credited with single-handedly reviving heroic fantasy artwork (the full sword-and-sorcery style is arguably directly descended from his paintings), Frazetta captured our collective imagination and took it to sites it experienced hardly ever been just before. Appear along with us as we check out the lifetime and legacy of this remarkable expertise.

Early Many years and Career in Comics

Frank Frazetta was born into a Sicilian spouse and children in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928. A baby prodigy, he started drawing pretty much as soon as he could keep a pencil. At the tender age of eight, his moms and dads enrolled him in the Brooklyn Academy of High-quality Arts, his initial (and only) artwork class. As a sixteen-yr-aged, he broke into business artwork, undertaking fill-in perform on comic publications and even publishing his own strip known as Snowman. This was the starting of an illustrious career in the marketplace that would span over two decades.

Frank Frazetta’s comic strip art for Li’l Abner Sunday (1956) by using Heritage Auctions

All through this time, the young artist would attempt his hand at almost everything from westerns to humor to criminal offense stories. His landmark Buck Roger handles for Well-known Funnies, together with art contributions to EC Comics, caught the attention of none other than Al Capp, who offered him a task on his uber-common strip, Li’l Abner. Frazetta later on worked on a solo development Johnny Comet and aided out on Flash Gordon, between his other credits. He also made Small Annie Fanny for Playboy magazine, a stint that aided him assistance his escalating family when comedian books hit a rough patch in the late 1950s.

From Comedian Strips to Pulp Heroes

In the 1960s, Frazetta’s occupation turned into new and uncharted territory, ultimately securing his put in record as the best fantasy artist of all time. It was during this time period that he remaining comics guiding and began pouring his artistic brilliance into pulp ebook handles, a medium he would go on to produce into his distinctly iconic style.

Noteworthy illustrations include his work on the Edgar Rice Burroughs titles (Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Pellucidar, and many others) and his interpretation of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. His paintings had been characterised by an unmatched feeling of dynamism and power, as properly as a knack for depicting the human form in all its sensuality and toughness. From the commencing, they stood out from all the rest to the point the place audience usually acquired the novels for the handles by yourself! No speculate the paperback publishers vied for his providers, typically acquiring guides to match his artwork (and not the other way about).

In the meantime, a 1964 caricature of Ringo Starr for Mad Magazine earned Frazetta his first Hollywood gig, the film poster for What’s New Pussycat? by Woody Allen. Additional poster commissions followed, like types for After the Fox (1966), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968), and The Gauntlet (1977).

At roughly the very same time, Frazetta’s career as a cartoonist came comprehensive circle when he joined his former EC colleagues at Warren Publications and did a string of unforgettable handles for Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, cementing his status as the preeminent artist in the area.

By the 1980s, Frazetta’s design permeated just about every corner of pop lifestyle, with a legion of imitators but no correct rivals. His address art experienced previously received a cult next, bringing a era of audience into the SF/fantasy fold and redefining the seem of the genre as we know it. Blockbuster film posters only added to his legend, as did album addresses for Molly Hatchet, Nazareth, and Herman’s Hermits, to identify a handful of. But what was it that made his artwork so specific, you might ask? And how did he take care of to create such an enduring legacy?

The Frazetta Method

Frazetta’s pictures are effortlessly recognizable for their use of dim and moody hues, compositional mastery, and an all round feeling of action and movement. His characters are practically generally much larger than everyday living, whether it is the heroic barbarian warrior, the voluptuous damsel in distress, or the male-consuming demon about to devour its prey. These archetypal figures are typically put in dramatic options, this kind of as desolate wastelands, darkish forests, or raging seas, where by anything is achievable, and risk lurks all over just about every corner.

Frazetta’s colour palette, a far cry from the garish hues favored by numerous pulp artists of the time, can help floor his excellent imagery in gritty realism, building it all the a lot more plausible (and, therefore, all the far more pleasing to the audience). The sure feeling of composition, still an additional mark of his genius, invariably directs the eye to the heart of the action—and what an action it commonly is!

Menacing warriors engaged in hand-to-hand fight with monstrous foes, luscious heroines battling to totally free by themselves from the clutches of evil, legendary beasts battling every other to the death… These scenes have appear to outline Frazetta’s oeuvre and keep on to captivate viewers these days.

At the same time, the master’s uncanny capability to capture gestures and facial expressions mid-motion lends his art a sense of urgency that is unachievable to seem away from. Like a stopped piece of movie, every single of his paintings would seem to depict a minute of intense drama, as if the people are about to leap off the canvas and into our earth.

But Frazetta’s biggest accomplishment is perhaps bridging the hole among superior artwork and commercialism. Wanting at his Seven Romans, you can see he was dubbed the “Rembrandt of barbarians” for a superior explanation. His operate has a classical painterly quality, still there is also a pulpy, motion-packed sensibility that tends to make it straight away accessible and enjoyable. It is the fantastic blend of artistry and entertainment—which could just be the key to its enduring enchantment.

The Legend and His Legacy

Frank Frazetta passed away in 2010 at the age of 82, but not just before asserting his posture as one of the best artists of the 20th century. In the course of his profession, he obtained quite a few accolades from his peers, together with becoming inducted into the Will Eisner Comic E-book Hall of Fame in 1995, the Society of Illustrators Corridor of Fame in 1998, and the Jack Kirby Corridor of Fame in 1999.

Coveted by collectors and relaxed admirers alike, his to start with sketches were positioned on the marketplace in the early 1970s and marketed for 35 bucks. Due to the fact then, charges for Frazetta originals have continuously absent up. In 2019, his Egyptian Queen, which encouraged the popular Princess Leia slave costume from Star Wars, fetched a document-breaking 5,4 million pounds at Heritage Auctions Chicago.

The past document, also held by a Frazetta piece, was established only a 12 months earlier when a further a person of his paintings, Loss of life Seller VI, went less than the hammer. Conan and Tarzan aside, Frazetta’s ominous primary character has develop into his most legendary oeuvre, showing in comics, novels, and even as a lifesize metal statue. No speculate he introduced in a selling price of 1,79 million dollars, beating Superman and Batman in the system. And all that with out as a great deal as lifting his axe!

Frazetta’s household has continued to protect his legacy as a result of the Frazetta Artwork Museum, housing the most significant assortment of his work around the world. The artist’s daughter and granddaughter have also released Frazetta Women, a firm providing official Frank Frazetta merchandise. We at Displate have teamed up with Frazetta Ladies to make a assortment of metallic posters showcasing his most legendary artworks, so be guaranteed to look at these out if you are a admirer!

Frank Frazetta could not have prepared the fantasy tales that kicked off the sword-and-sorcery style, but his epic illustrations did more than anything else to bring people stories to lifetime. In the method, he redefined what fantasy artwork could be and left an indelible mark on generations of artists. His operate has encouraged everybody from filmmakers to comic artists to recreation designers and continues to be a supply of fascination and enjoyment now.

Above to You!

If you’re a fantasy supporter, you do not need an justification to feast your eyes on Frazetta’s artwork. But if you are unfamiliar with his creations, we hope this post has influenced you to verify out some of his amazing artwork. At Displate, we’re happy to offer a range of his paintings on metallic posters. So why not include a single of these legendary visuals to your assortment right now?

Did you love understanding about his lifetime and work? What is your favorite Frazetta portray? Enable us know in the comments under! And if you haven’t currently, be certain to adhere to @frazettagirls on Instagram for far more of his art!


Ballantine, Betty. The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta. Rufus Publication/Peacock Press/Bantam Textbooks, 1975.

Helman, Christopher. Schwarzenegger’s Sargent, Forbes, 24 Nov 2003, Accessed 12 Oct 2022.

Frazetta: Painting With Hearth. Directed by Lance Laspina, Cinemachine Arts, 2003.

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