Back in college, I remember one of my classmates copying an interesting painting for a fine arts class. The painting featured ghoulish “Gollum-like” creatures crouched at the feet of a buxom woman dressed in a leather thong, spiral gold wrist bracelets and nothing else.
This “Ghoul Queen” stood with hand on hip and breasts bared overlooking her subjects. The art wasn’t cartoonish, nor was it realistic. It was somewhere between comic book and classic. It was fantasy art at its best and immediately I was hooked.
Then there was the famous “Molly Hatchet” album covers. The “Death Dealer, Dark Kingdom” and “Berserker!” Warriors with battle axes, scars and a sinister dark rider on a huge black horse!
For sure if you are a designer and lived on rock and roll, you were probably as saddened as I was to learn Frank Frazetta passed away in May this year. He was the ultimate master of fantasy art for those of us who grew up on “Heavy Metal” magazine issues.
Frazetta was a child prodigy and by the age of 15 was doing clean-up pencil work for comic books. You can view some of his work in older Edgar Rice Burrow’s “Tarzan” books. But his real lasting impression was the outrageous muscle bound warriors and overly endowed half-clothed women. The men were muscular, ripped, battle scarred and tough. The women were the anti-thesis of super models. They weren’t fat but definitely full in all the right places.
According to several of Frazetta’s publications, his preferred medium was oil on canvas, wood or even a piece of old, standard brown masonite. He didn’t care for acrylics because they lacked vibrancy. He was a very private man according to publications and being interviewed “bugged him.” There was much left unknown to the general public about this fantastic artist.
I personally own two books called “Frank Frazetta,” edited by Betty Ballantine, that feature a short bit of copy and lots of pages filled with the colorful imagination and joy that Frazetta brought to life. My favorite? That’s an unfair question since everyone brings a story to mind, just like my friend carefully copying the “Ghoul Queen” or unwrapping the “Flirting With Disaster” album, dropping the turntable needle and studying the cover art “Dark Kingdom.”
Somewhere, sometime, some point in your life, even if you did not follow Frank Frazetta, you were in contact with his art. People who followed his work and career will miss him greatly. True aficionados have already shown their loyalty by recently paying 1.5 million dollars for his painting “Conan the Destoyer.”
Long live the Brawny Heroes, Vivacious Women and Ferocious Beasts! Frank Frazetta 1928 – 2010