Famed Illustrator Frank Frazetta Dies at 82


Frank Frazetta in 1994 with his Death Dealer image. Photograph: David W Coulter/AP

Frank Frazetta, the well known illustrator and comic book artist whose muscular ax and sword-wielding warriors, scantily-dressed heroines, and beastly animals graced the pages of science fiction/fantasy novels, movie posters, and even album covers, died May 10 in Fort Myers, Fla., the victim of a stroke.

Mr. Frazetta, (who early in his career discarded one z from his last name because it looked clumsy), began his career as a pencil-and-ink artist for comic books of all types – westerns, mysteries, fantasies – when he was just a young teenager.

With time and experience, he eventually moved up and on to illustrating the covers of the very famous Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan series and Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian series.

Mr. Frazetta’s illustrations were credited with bringing back the popularity of the character and helped define the fantasy sub-genre and illustration style known as “sword and sorcery” evident in his drawing of the Shining Knight for one of the largest and most successful American comic book companies DC Comics.

Jess Escamillas, a SCAD Junior and Sequential Art major, says Mr. Frazetta’s “artwork inspired a sense of adventure and themes of being a warrior.”

One of Mr. Frazetta’s most famous illustrations The Death Dealer was made into a comic book series that describes an ancient land and two nations fighting against each other in an epic war.

The Death Dealer drawing also appeared on the album cover for the very popular heavy metal band Molly Hatchet, garnering the talented illustrator attention from a different kind of audience.

People also caught notice of Mr. Frazetta’s work because of his famous depictions of sexy, amazon women surrounded by soft, lush swamps and jungles that served as perfect environments for the erotic.

Even military men were attracted to Frazetta’s work.

Jess Escamillas says “While in the military on deployment, [his comrades and him] always liked looking at Frank’s artwork to identify with the themes of his paintings. Plus, his women were very pretty.”

Mr. Frazetta is survived by two sisters, two sons, two daughters and eleven grandchildren.

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