Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frank Frazetta, RIP

One of those things that you expect, sooner or later, especially after his recent bouts of illnesses. But when it happens, it's still a shock and a loss.
We saw the news late Monday night that Frank Frazetta had passed away earlier that day from a stroke. He had a history of strokes and had been in poor health the past few years, particularly with the death of his wife Ellie last year.

I'm glad that his children resolved their differences last month -- deciding to work together to promote their father's work and legacy -- after the unpleasantness between them following Ellie's passing.

This isn't meant to be an obit -- there are plenty of official stories out on the 'net, written better that I could do it -- at the Washington Post, Deadline, the LA Times and the New York Times. But I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about an artist who has had such a profound effect on my own imagination and ideas about art in general.

I can't pinpoint exactly my first encounter with Frazetta's work. I've always been a big fan of fantasy and science fiction, for as long as I can remember. I do have the memory of seeing the Lancer (and later Ace) Conan and Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks with Frazetta covers in bookstores, especially the prominent display in the Waldenbooks upstairs at Scottsdale Mall. I also remember seeing samples from, and the ads for, the Ballantine Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta books in Starlog Magazine in the early '80s.
Later, after more time and reading, I learned more about his extent of his work -- not just cover paintings but pencil drawings, ink work, comic book art, movie posters and album covers... on and on.

What I think makes his work so powerful and popular is how dynamic it is, how much is going on in that snapshot of time. In some works, we see the moment before something happens. In others, it's the aftermath. But in all of them, there's the quality and artistry -- visceral, raw energy, in every brushstroke or line of ink. Pure magic.


miakoda said...

I hadn't seen this yet -- although I honestly had no idea whether he was still alive. Frazetta is one of those near-mythic figures that seemed to exist outside of time.

While not one of my favorite artists, his style is absolutely linked to the Robert E. Howard and Robert Adams novels of the '70s and early '80s, for me.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Steve. I understand how much the artwork of Frank Frazetta has influenced you.