OBITUARY: Frank Frazetta (1928-2010)

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Frank Frazetta was one of the perennial exemplars of fantasy art. He had an immediately recognizable style - mostly involving overly-curvey scantily clad women (Which the Republibot likey!) and oiled, over-muscled loincloth wearing men (Which the Republibot no likey!) He was a much-sought-after artist in the fantasy and SF genres, as well as in other aspects of the entertainment industry.

If you're not familiar with his art, this'll get you started

Born in Brookly, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in New York, and started working in the comics industry around age 16. The 1950s Buck Rogers comic strip gave him his first real recognition. He's also the guy who was responsible for "Little Annie Fannie." Oh well.

In the mid-60s one of his illustrations for Mad Magazine got him jobs doing movie posters, which was far less work and far, far more money than he'd ever gotten before, so he specialized in that for several years. The thing that really put him over the top was his iconic series of illustrations for the "Conan" series of trashy Sword and Sorcery paperbacks. He more-or-less existed comics completely, excepting the occasional cover illustration. By the late 1960s, he'd become a countercultural force, and was in demand for album covers. He also began doing series of illustrations for the quasi-fantasy "John Carter of Mars" series, and was in demand for original artwork as well.

Frazetta painted in all mediums, but his public work was done almost exclusively in oils, and he never used canvases. Rather uniquely, he painted entirely on wood. I've always heard different explanations for that - that it was cheaper, that it was sturdier, that he didn't have to worry about temperature, that he hated the canvas supplier in town - but I never got a solid explanation about it. Larry Niven mentioned, in one of his Known Space stories, that Frazetta's oils had come to be regarded as fine art in the distant future, and they were sought after by many museums.

Frazetta married once in the mid-1950s, and they were together until his wife's death in 2009. They had four children.

Frank died of a stroke today. He was 82.

Our prayers go out for his soul and for his family.