Archive for the 'Frank Frazetta' Category

Alien Animals by Janet and Colin Bord (Granada, 1980)

Alien Animals 1980

Alien Animals 1985

Cover and interior illustrations are by Gino D’Achille. Unfortunately, I have no scans of the latter. The cover above is from a first edition, while the back sleeve is from a 1985 edition. The book follows the format established by John Keel’s Strange Creatures from Time and Space (Fawcett, 1970). See below for that cover: yet another stunner from Frank Frazetta.

Strange Creatures Keel 1970

(Back cover image via Library of the Phantasmagoria)

Frank Frazetta Cover Art for High Times #57 (May, 1980)

High Times #57 May 1980

Frazetta Mothman 1980

John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies (1975) popularized what several witnesses described as a man-sized, winged creature with glowing red eyes sighted in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, during 1966 and 1967. As far as I know, this is the only Mothman illustration Frazetta did, so I’m not sure what the “Exclusive Frazetta Inside!” refers to.

A 12-foot tall Mothman statue was unveiled in Point Pleasant in 2002, and appears to be based on Frazetta’s dramatic rendering more than actual eyewitness accounts.

High Times, as you might have guessed, is “the definitive resource for all things marijuana.”

Frank Frazetta Cover Art for Tales from the Crypt (Ballantine, 1964)

Tales Frazetta 1964

Tales Frazetta 1964-2

Nine years after Bill Gaines was forced to shelve EC Comics’ horror, crime, and sci-fi titles due to creative restrictions enforced by the Comics Code Authority, Ballantine reprinted a number of the original tales in five volumes published between 1964 and 1966: Tales from the Crypt (1964), The Vault of Horror (1965), Tales of the Incredible (1965), The Autumn People (1965), and Tomorrow Midnight (1966). Frazetta, who had worked briefly for EC in the ’50s, painted the covers for the whole series. Original art for The Autumn People and Tomorrow Midnight are below. You can see all the volumes together here.

Autumn Frazetta 1965

Tomorrow Frazetta 1966

Although the stories were in black and white and awkwardly laid out due to the smaller paperback format, the series is notable because it marked the first time the comics had been anthologized, thus introducing a new generation, already developing a taste for what would eventually be called speculative fiction, to the visceral and groundbreaking (pun intended) work of EC.

The following year, Ballantine would release the first authorized paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings, probably the single most important event in the popularization of the fantasy genre. Starting in 1969, Ballantine struck again with the remarkable Adult Fantasy series, which gave H.P. Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, William Morris, Lord Dunsany, and several other genre pioneers the lofty status they hold today.

(Images via Cap’n’s Comics and Pinterest)

Frank Frazetta Cover Art for Monster Mania #2 (January, 1967)

MM 1967-1

MM 1967-2

(Via Cap’n’s Comics)

Photos from the San Diego Comic-Con, 1973

CC 1973-1

CC 1973-2

CC 1973-3

CC 1973-4

CC 1973-5

CC 1973-6

CC 1973-7

I went to the San Diego Comic-Con once, in 2008 or 2009. Never again. It no longer caters to the intelligent, discerning patrons you see above.

I’m intrigued by the Orange County Nostalgic Society seen in the second photo. That’s Neal Adams in the last photo.

The pictures are from Comic-Convention Memories, an amazing love letter to the early cons and the people who got them started. It’s run by Mike Towry, one of the founding members of the SDCC.

Richard Alf at the Opening of Comic Kingdom, 1975

Richard Alf 1975

Photo: Mike Towry

Richard Alf, at age 17, co-founded (with Shel Dorf, Mike Towry, and Ken Kreuger), chaired, financed and organized the first San Diego Comic-Con in 1970.

Above: Alf at the opening of his comic book store, Comic Kingdom, in 1975—a great year for comics. Those are Frazetta posters on the wall. One of Alf’s notable achievements was expanding Comic-Con to include the fantasy and sci-fi genres (Ray Bradbury appeared and spoke in 1970).

Below: Alf (in glasses) with Jack Kirby and fans in 1969. Shel Dorf is second from right.

I’ll post some early Comic-Con photos later today.

Kirby and Fans 1969

Photo: Mike Towry

(Photos via Inc.com and comic-con.org)

Ken Kelly Cover Art for Richard Avery’s The Expendables (1975 – 1976)

Deathworms Kelly 1975

Tantalus Kelly 1975

Zelos Ken Kelly 1975

Argus Ken Kelly 1975

Ken Kelly and Frank Frazetta are family, and Kelly grew up admiring the work of his “Uncle Frank.” The Frazetta style—the overwhelmingly imperiled Romantic hero set against a backdrop of otherworldly colors and atmosphere—is obvious here.

Kelly would never completely escape his mentor’s shadow, but a lot of his sci-fi work is wonderfully unique. These are some of his earliest covers.

Frank Frazetta: American Romantic

Lancer/Ace Edition (1967), cover art by Frank Frazetta

American artist Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) has almost single-handedly defined the fantasy genre from the late ’60s on. Even if you haven’t heard his name before, you’ve seen many of his paintings (check them out here). I say almost single-handedly out of respect for J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Ray Harryhausen. John Milius’s Conan the Barbarian (1982), which capitalized on the Tolkien surge and the popularity of D&D, directly emulated the Frazetta style, as did almost all ’80s D&D art (Elmore, Parkinson, Easley) and a staggering amount of comic book art. Look at anything fantasy-related today and you’ll see Frazetta’s influence.

He’s probably best known for his spectacular Conan and Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes, John Carter of Mars, At the Earth’s Core) paintings, which were commissioned by various publishers. The New York Times reported in 1977 that “Paperback publishers have been known to buy one of his paintings for use as a cover, then commission a writer to turn out a novel to go with it.” (The only illustrator I can think of who might have done as much for book sales was the 19th century artist/engraver Gustav Doré.) His work is intricately articulate, deeply colorful, weird, erotic, violent, almost Romantic. His heroes are grim and bloody, his heroines scantily clad but often anything but helpless.

Here’s the Conan vs. giant snake scene by a different artist around the same time:

Lancer Edition (1968), cover art by John Duillo

And here’s one of the original Conan covers:

Gnome Press Edition (1955), cover art by Ed Emshwiller

There’s just no comparison.

I was a little surprised to find out that Frazetta was in no way the artsy type. He grew up a Brooklyn tough, nearly became a pro baseball player, barely eked out a living as an artist, and in later life suffered multiple strokes before one finally killed him. (For more, see the 2003 documentary, Frazetta: Painting with Fire.)

The art establishment never paid him any respect and never will. But he transcended his genres. When I look at Frazetta’s work, I see shades of J.M.W. Turner, Henry Fuseli, Caspar David Friedrich, John Martin. When I look at contemporary art I see lines and shapes that have no heart and signify nothing.


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