Artist Profile: Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta (b. Feb 9th, 1929 –   )
Media: Comics, Magazine & Novel Covers, Movie Posters
Medium: Oils, Watercolor, Pen & Ink, Pencil

"Kane on the Golden Sea" by Frank Frazetta
"Kane on the Golden Sea" by Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta, the painter/illustrator is the man who is responsible for my interest in many things.  All it took was one print of the painting, “Kane on the Golden Sea” to spark the fire of imagination within me.  I remember when I first saw the print, hanging in my Grandfather’s computer room behind the Commodore 64.

That single painting propelled me into the world of fantasy illustration; which in turn launched me into the worlds of Tolkien, Howard, and Moorcock.  Then I stumbled across Dragon of Doom, which was one of TSR’s Endless Quest books.  Dragon of Doom led me to Dungeons & Dragons and the rest is history.


I usually describe Frazetta’s style as loose or fuzzy dramatic oil illustrations.  While his sketches have loose, rough outlines, his brush work tends to feather edges.  He also makes use of dramatic lighting and composition.  His art usually depicts heavily musckle warriors and voluptuous, curvy women with or without full backgrounds.

The bulk of his work sits solidly in the realm of dark Sword & Sorcery (Conan) but often includes elements of Horror (Death Dealer).


Most of this bio was found on Wikipedia, but much of it was gleaned off the documentary: Frank Frazetta: Painting with Fire.

Frank was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 9th, 1928.  This means Frazetta has been around for eighty years and he has been creating art for most of that time.  He was enrolled into to the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts when he was only eight.  At age sixteen, when the academy was closed, Frank began working on comic books.  He was offered work with Walt Disney, but he turned him down.

Frank was most well known during this time for his painted Buck Rogers covers on Famous Funnies.  However, as the comic industry evolved, Frazetta’s style was falling out of favor and he found work hard to come by.  His talents found a home with the burgeoning Mad Magazine and a comic strip in Playboy called “Lil’ Annie Fannie.”

A parody painting of Ringo Star in Mad Magazine led to a movie poster deal with Universal Artisits for What’s New Pussycat? which of course led to more poster work including Mad Max.  It was also during this time that he began painting book covers.  Most noteable was his work on Robert E. Howard’s Conan series.  He also worked on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels including those from Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.

After Hollywood and his success in novel covers, Frank’s work was very in demand and many artists began to emulate his style.  Some noteable artists whose works display a strong Frazetta influence include Simon Bisley, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, and prominent Dark Sun artist, Gerald Brom.

Frazetta’s paintings also graced the covers of horror publisher, Warren Publishing, and their successful magazines: Creepy, Eeerie, and Vampirella.  Frezatta also worked with celebrated animation producer Ralph Bakshi on Fire and Ice.  His paintings have also graced the album covers for bands including Wolfmother. Molly Hatchet, Nazereth, and Dust.

For all the Star Wars trivia fans out there, Aggie Rodgers, costume designer for Return of the Jedi has stated that Leia’s chainmail bikini costume was inspired by Frazetta.

Frazetta persevered through a series of strokes that left him without full use of his primary hand, but that didn’t stop the determined artist, as he learned to draw all over again with his offhand!  He currently lives with his wife Ellie on a 67 acre estate in the Poconos of Pennsylvania where they have a museum open to the public.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about Frank Frazetta, I highly recommend the documentary about him: Frank Frazetta: Painting with Fire.  Either that or you go visit his museum and hope you get to meet him in person.

Frank Frazetta’s Official Site
The Unofficial Frazetta Art Gallery

Listening to: Carfax Abbey – Second Skin – Flush to the Floor

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