Few artists have had as mighty an influence on American pop culture, let alone comics, as Frank Frazetta and that makes his passing today a truly significant loss for the world of fantasy art that we’re all such fans of. His work in comics, pulps, movie posters, album covers and even fine art has influenced generations of illustrators, filmmakers and musicians. His interpretation of Conan the Barbarian set the standard for how the character - - and really, all sword and sorcery heroes - - has been depicted ever since. Indeed, if you look at a piece of heroic fantasy art today, the odds are better than good that it owes a debt to Frazetta.
After watching the documentary about his life, FRAZETTA: PAINTING WITH FIRE, a while back, I think what makes the man especially memorable is that his own life was as… well… larger-than-life as the fantasies he depicted. In addition to being a phenomenal artistic talent, he was also an exceptional athlete (a “sportsmen” by his own description) who was not only a promising baseball talent in his youth, but also offered a position on the New York Giants (an offer he turned down). Notably, he even performed some brawny fight choreography for the animators of the barbarian movie FIRE AND ICE - - something he did when he was well into his 60’s!
According to the Beat, Frazetta passed away from a stroke in Florida earlier today, at the age of 82. I can’t help seeing this as being something legendary, in itself, because I was actually having a conversation about the man with a friend of mine only a couple weeks ago - -an artist who worships at the shrine of Frazetta. We both said that Frazetta was a truly unstoppable superhuman, pushing forward into his 80s with the kind of zest for life that’d put most young men to shame.
I encourage all of you look Frazetta up and become acquainted with his body of work. There simply aren't enough superlatives out there to properly describe the man's talent.
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