ARTIST … FRANK FRAZETTA
(February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010)
Frazetta was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of eight, at the insistence of his school teachers, Frazetta’s parents enrolled him in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. He attended the academy for eight years under the tutelage of Michele Falanga, an award-winning Italian fine artist. Falanga was struck by Frazetta’s significant talent. Frazetta’s abilities flourished under Falanga, who dreamed of sending Frazetta to Europe, at his own expense, to further his studies. Unfortunately, Falanga died suddenly in 1944 and with him, his dream. As the school closed about a year after Falanga’s passing, Frazetta was forced to find work to earn a living.
At 16, Frazetta started drawing for comic books that varied in themes: westerns, fantasy, mysteries, histories and other contemporary themes. Some of his earliest work was in funny animal comics, which he signed as “Fritz”. During this period he turned down job offers from comic giants such as Walt Disney. In the early 1950s, he worked for EC Comics, National Comics (including the superhero feature “Shining Knight”), Avon and several other comic book companies. Much of his work in comic books was done in collaboration with friends Al Williamson and Roy Krenkel.
Through the work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies, Frazetta started working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip. Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time, as well as assisting Dan Barry on the Flash Gordon daily strip. In 1961, after nine years with Capp, Frazetta returned to regular comics.
By 1964, one of Frazetta’s magazine ads caught the eye of United Artists studios. He was approached to do the movie poster for What’s New Pussycat and earned his yearly salary in one afternoon. He did several other movie posters (see notable works). Frazetta also started producing paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. His cover for the sword-and-sorcery collection Conan the Adventurer by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp (Lancer 1966) caused a sensation-numerous people bought the book for its cover alone. From this point on, Frazetta’s work was in great demand. During this period he also did covers for other paperback editions of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs books, such as those from the Tarzan and Barsoom (John Carter of Mars) series. He also did several pen and ink illustrations for many of these books.
Since this time, most of Frazetta’s work has been commercial in nature, providing paintings and illustrations from things such as movie posters to book jackets to calendars. Many of his paintings are uncommissioned but have nonetheless become highly sought after commercially.
Frazetta’s work has long been admired by many Hollywood personalities. Clint Eastwood and George Lucas-fans and friends of Frazetta’s-have commissioned works from him for some of their movie projects.
In 2003, a feature film documenting the life and career of Frazetta was released entitled,
Frazetta: Painting With Fire.
Mr. Frazetta died of a stroke on May 10, 2010, in a hospital near his residence in Florida.