It is very unusual for an artists’ work to not fall into any easily-definable category, as in the case of Frank Frazetta who preferred to be called an illustrator. However so well defined and haunting were Frazetta’s works that there is definitely an element of sophistication and painterly qualities associated with them. So the real question is what was the exact scope of Frazetta’s artistic prose? The answer is quite long, Frazetta was a noted illustrator of science fiction art working mostly on novels, comic books posters, and record album covers and also happened to be a painter and sculptor. Frazetta has created some of the most iconic pieces of fantasy art and his work continues to inspire art lovers even to this day. Frazetta was the mastermind behind iconic heroes like Tarzan, John Carter of Mars and Conan.
Born Frank Frazetta in Brooklyn, New York in 1928, Frazetta was introduced to the arts when he just two years old. His grandmother played an instrumental role in developing his love for art always rewarding him with a penny which prompted an eager Frazetta to draw even more. Frazetta enrolled in Brooklyn’s Academy of Fine Arts and credits the place for challenging his artistic boundaries. Frazetta’s posters and covers are often clad in muscular men wielding swords or axes with scantily clad warrior-like women – very typical science fiction art but the way Frazetta drew them was simply marvellous. His imagination and creativity is unrivalled with many art experts calling him the Michelangelo of modern fantasy art. Frazetta illustrated the paperback covers of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan series which fall under collector’s edition nowadays. Back then they were the talk of the town. Apart from comic book covers Frazetta’s versatility also enabled him to expand on working on movie posters. His first Hollywood movie poster was for Woody Allen’s What’s New Pussycat? Apart from the humor element there were also undertones of satire found in some of Frazetta’s works. He worked on an advertisement for Mad magazine which was pure satire, but it got him noticed and enabled him to expand his work into adverts as well. Frazetta’s iconic poster of Conan the Barbarian is just luminous, featuring his heavily muscular hero standing in a heroic stance with a damsel in distress clinging to his leg. The figure of Conan is seen to be standing on a pile of carcases of creatures which he has no doubt just slaughtered. So iconic is this work of Frazetta’s that it has been copied numerous times and all of them have failed to capture the glory of the moment shinning in the poster the way Frazetta did.
Frazetta was not fully aware of the effect his work had on the viewer, even today his posters and covers are considered legendary. He had the unique ability to guide the viewers’ eye to every component in his work. What makes Frazetta stand out from other artists is that what he did was very, very different from other artists, he carved a niche for himself. That’s why he is regarded as such a master; he dared to be different with his art and succeeded gloriously. Frazetta was inducted in the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1995, this honor is only one of the many Frazetta was awarded with during his life as an artist.