Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta (born Frank Frazzetta (/frəˈzɛtə/); February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010)[2][3] was an American fantasy and science fiction artist, noted for comic books, paperback book covers, paintings, posters, LP record album covers and other media. He was the subject of a 2003 documentary.

Frank Frazetta
Frank Frazetta self-portrait (1962)
Frank A. Frazzetta

(1928-02-09)February 9, 1928[1]
Brooklyn, New York
DiedMay 10, 2010(2010-05-10) (aged 82)
EducationBrooklyn Academy of Fine Arts
Known forIllustration, painting, sculpting
AwardsChesley Award (1988, 1995, 1997)
Hugo Award (1966)
Spectrum Grand Master of Fantastic Art Award (1995)

Frazetta was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999.

Early life

Born Frank Frazzetta in Brooklyn, New York City, Frazetta removed one "z" from his last name early in his career to make his name seem less "clumsy".[2] The only boy in a family with three sisters, he spent much time with his grandmother, who began encouraging him in art when he was two years old. In 2010, a month before his death, he recalled that:

When I drew something, she would be the one to say it was wonderful and would give me a penny to keep going. Sometimes I had nothing left to draw on but toilet paper. As I got older, I started drawing some pretty wild things for my age. I remember the teachers were always mesmerized by what I was doing, so it was hard to learn anything from them. So I went to art school when I was a little kid, and even there the teachers were flipping out.[4]

At age eight, Frazetta attended the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts,[5] a small art school run by instructor Michel Falanga. "[H]e didn't teach me anything, really," Frazetta said in 1994. "He'd come and see where I was working, and he might say, 'Very nice, very nice. But perhaps if you did this or that.' But that's about it. We never had any great conversations. He spoke very broken English. He kind of left you on your own. I learned more from my friends there."[6]


Early work

In 1944, at age 16, Frazetta, who had "always had this urge to be doing comic books",[6] began working in comics artist Bernard Baily's studio doing pencil clean-ups.[5] His first comic-book work was inking the eight-page story "Snowman", penciled by John Giunta, in the one-shot Tally-Ho Comics (Dec. 1944), published by Swappers Quarterly and Almanac/Baily Publishing Company.[7] It was not standard practice in comic books during this period to provide complete credits, so a comprehensive listing of Frazetta's work is difficult to ascertain. His next confirmed comics works are two signed penciled-and-inked pieces in Prize Comics' Treasure Comics #7 (July 1946): the four-page "To William Penn founder of Philadelphia..." and the single page "Ahoy! Enemy Ship!", featuring his character Capt. Kidd Jr.[8] In a 1991 interview in The Comics Journal, Frazetta credited Graham Ingels as the first one in the comic book industry to recognize his talent, and to give him jobs at Standard Comics in 1947.

Frazetta was soon drawing comic books in many genres, including Westerns, fantasy, mystery, and historical drama. Some of his earliest work was in funny animal comics, which he signed as "Fritz".[9] For Dell's subsidiary company, Famous Funnies, Frazetta did war and human interest stories for Heroic Comics, as well as one pagers extolling the virtues of prayer and the evils of drug abuse. In comics like Personal Love and Movie Love, he did romance and celebrity stories, including a biography of Burt Lancaster.

In the early 1950s, he worked for EC Comics, National Comics (including the superhero feature "Shining Knight"), Avon Comics, and several other comic book companies. Much of his work in comic books was done in collaboration with friend Al Williamson and occasionally his mentor[10] Roy G. Krenkel.

Noticed because of his work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies,[11] Frazetta started working with Al Capp on Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner. Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time,[12] as well as assisting Dan Barry on the Flash Gordon daily strip.[13]

He married Massachusetts native Eleanor Kelly in New York City in November 1956.[2] The two would have four children: Frank Jr., Billy, Holly and Heidi.[2]

In 1961, after nine years with Capp, Frazetta returned to comic books. He also helped Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on three stories of the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy magazine.[14]

Hollywood and book covers

In 1964, Frazetta's painting of Beatle Ringo Starr for a Mad magazine ad parody caught the eye of United Artists studios. He was approached to do the movie poster for What's New Pussycat?, and earned the equivalent of his yearly salary in one afternoon.[15] He did several other movie posters.

Frazetta also produced paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. His interpretation of Conan visually redefined the genre of sword and sorcery, and had an enormous influence on succeeding generations of artists.[16] From this point on, Frazetta's work was in great demand. His covers were used 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. His cover art only coincidentally matched the storylines inside the books, as Frazetta once explained: "I didn't read any of it... I drew him my way. It was really rugged. And it caught on. I didn't care about what people thought. People who bought the books never complained about it. They probably didn't read them."[17]

After this time, most of Frazetta's work was commercial in nature, including paintings and illustrations for movie posters, book jackets, and calendars. Primarily, these were in oil, but he also worked with watercolor, ink, and pencil alone.[15] Frazetta's work in comics during this time were cover paintings and a few comic stories in black and white for the Warren Publishing horror and war magazines Creepy, Eerie, Blazing Combat and Vampirella.[15]

Once Frazetta secured a reputation, movie studios lured him to work on animated movies. Most, however, would give him participation in name only, with creative control held by others. An advertisement based on his work was animated by Richard Williams in grease pencil and paint and shown in 1978.[18] In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with producer Ralph Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice, released in 1983. The realism of the animation and design replicated Frazetta's artwork.[19] Bakshi and Frazetta were heavily involved in the production of the live-action sequences used for the film's rotoscoped animation, from casting sessions to the final shoot.[19] Following the release of the film, Frazetta returned to his roots in painting and pen-and-ink illustrations.

Frazetta's paintings have been used by a number of recording artists as cover art for their albums. Molly Hatchet's first three albums feature "The Death Dealer", "Dark Kingdom", and "Berserker", respectively. Dust's second album, Hard Attack, features "Snow Giants". Nazareth used "The Brain" for its 1977 album Expect No Mercy. The U.S. Army III Corps adopted "The Death Dealer" as its mascot.[20]

Frazetta retained the original Conan paintings, and long refused to part with them. Many were displayed at the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 2009, Frazetta's "Conan the Conqueror" painting, the first to be offered for sale, was purchased for $1 million.[17]

Later life and career

In the early 1980s, Frazetta created a gallery, Frazetta's Fantasy Corner, on the upper floors of a former Masonic building at the corner of South Courtland and Washington streets in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The building also housed a Frazetta art museum that displayed both his own work and, in a separate gallery, that of other artists.[5] From 1998 to 1999, Quantum Cat Entertainment published the magazine Frank Frazetta Fantasy Illustrated, with cover art and some illustrations by Frazetta.[21] In his later life, Frazetta was plagued by a variety of health problems, including a thyroid condition that went untreated for many years. A series of strokes left his right arm almost completely paralyzed. He taught himself to paint and draw with his left hand. He was the subject of the 2003 feature documentary Frank Frazetta: Painting With Fire.

By 2009, Frazetta was living on a 67-acre (0.27 km2; 0.105 sq mi) estate in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, with a small museum that is open to the public.[22] On July 17, 2009, his wife and business partner, Eleanor "Ellie" Frazetta, died after a year-long battle with cancer.[5] He then hired Rob Pistella and Steve Ferzoco to handle his business affairs.[23]

By December 2009, Frazetta's son, Alfonso Frank Frazetta, 52, known as Frank Jr., sold his local professional golf shop and preserved 90 paintings to display in the Frazetta museum in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Frank Jr. and Ellie had run the family business until Ellie's death, when infighting over the paintings began.[22] Frank Jr. maintained that he was trying to prevent the paintings from being sold, per the wishes of his father, whom he said had given him power of attorney over his estate.[24] After siblings Billy Frazetta, Holly Frazetta Taylor, and Heidi Grabin filed a lawsuit against Frank Jr. in March 2010, claiming misappropriation of their father's work, which they said the artist had transferred to a company controlled by those three, the family issued a statement on April 23, 2010, that said, "all of the litigation surrounding his family and his art has been resolved. All of Frank's children will now be working together as a team to promote his ... collection of images...."[25]

Frazetta died of a stroke on May 10, 2010, in a hospital near his residence in Florida.[2][3] As of 2017, Frank Frazetta Jr. and his wife Lori are the sole owners of the estate property. They continue to keep the Frazetta museum open to the public - complete with guided tours, with the 90 remaining paintings on rotating display as well as Frazetta's earlier work including timed illustration studies and his childhood artwork.

His painting Egyptian Queen, sold for a world record $5.4 million (£4.2m) on 16 May 2019 at a public auction of vintage comic books and comic art held by Heritage Auctions in Chicago, Illinois.[26]


Frazetta has influenced many artists within the genres of fantasy and science fiction. Yusuke Nakano, a lead artist for Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series, cites Frazetta as an influence.[27] Fantasy artist and musician Joseph Vargo cites Frazetta as a primary influence, and his art calendars since 1998 mark Frazetta's birthday. Chris Perna, art director at Epic Games, stated in an interview in 2011 that Frazetta was one of his influences.[28] Other artists influenced by Frazetta include comics artist such as Marc Silvestri[29] and Shelby Robertson.[30]

The face and body paint of professional wrestler Kamala was copied by artist and wrestler Jerry Lawler from a character in a Frazetta painting.

In early 2012, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez announced plans to remake Bakshi and Frazetta's film Fire and Ice.[31] Sony Pictures acquired the project in late 2014, with Rodriguez set to direct.[32]

As of 2013, Holly Frazetta's collection was traveling throughout the U.S. with public showings at comics conventions. She also co-founded Frazetta Girls LLC alongside daughter Sara Frazetta in 2014.[33] The Frazetta Girls company operates as a web store for official Frank Frazetta merchandise, and has a large social media presence for daily postings of Frazetta's work.[34]

List of works

Selected paintings

Year and date painted[35]

  • Carson of Venus – 1963
  • Tales From the Crypt – 1964[36]
  • Lost City – 1964
  • Land of Terror – 1964
  • Reassembled Man – 1964
  • Wolfman – 1965
  • Conan the Barbarian – 1966
  • Conan the Adventurer – 1966
  • King Kong – 1966
  • Sea Monster – 1966
  • Spider Man – 1966
  • The Sorcerer – 1966
  • Swords of Mars – 1966
  • Winged Terror – 1966
  • The Brain – 1967
  • Bran Mak Morn – 1967
  • Cat Girl – 1967
  • Conan the Conqueror – 1967
  • Conan the Usurper – 1967
  • Night Winds – 1967
  • Sea Witch – 1967
  • Snow Giants – 1967
  • Conan the Avenger – 1968
  • Rogue Roman – 1968
  • Swamp Ogre – 1968
  • Egyptian Queen – 1969
  • Mongol Tyrant – 1969
  • Primitive Beauty / La of Opar – 1969
  • Savage World / Young World – 1969
  • Vampirella – 1969
  • A Princess of Mars – 1970
  • Downward to the Earth – 1970
  • Eternal Champion – 1970
  • The Godmakers – 1970
  • Nightstalker – 1970
  • Pony Tail – 1970
  • The Return of Jongor – 1970
  • Sun Goddess – 1970
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex – 1970
  • Woman with a Scythe – 1970
  • Conan the Destroyer – 1971 [37]
  • Desperation – 1971
  • John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars – 1971
  • At the Earth's Core – 1972
  • Birdman – 1972
  • Creatures of the Night – 1972
  • The Silver Warrior – 1972
  • Thuvia, Maid of Mars – 1972
  • A Fighting Man of Mars – 1973
  • Atlantis – 1973
  • Black Emperor – 1973
  • Black Panther – 1973
  • Black Star – 1973
  • Conan of Aquilonia – 1973
  • The Death Dealer I – 1973
  • Flash for Freedom – 1973
  • Flying Reptiles – 1973
  • Ghoul Queen – 1973
  • Gollum – 1973
  • The Mammoth – 1973
  • Monster Out of Time – 1973
  • The Moon Maid – 1973
  • Serpent – 1973
  • Tanar of Pellucidar – 1973
  • Tarzan and the Ant Men – 1973
  • Tree of Death – 1973
  • Barbarian – 1974
  • Flashman on the Charge – 1974
  • Invaders – 1974
  • Madame Derringer – 1974
  • The Mucker – 1974
  • Paradox – 1975
  • Dark Kingdom – 1976
  • Bloodstone – 1975
  • Darkness at Times Edge – 1976
  • The Eighth Wonder / King Kong and Snake – 1976
  • Fire Demon – 1976
  • Queen Kong – 1976
  • Golden Girl – 1977
  • Castle of Sin / Arthur Rex- 1978
  • The Cave Demon – 1978
  • Kane on the Golden Sea – 1978
  • Sound – 1979
  • Witherwing – 1979
  • The Sacrifice – 1980
  • Las Vegas – 1980
  • Seven Romans – 1980
  • Fire and Ice – 1982
  • Geisha – 1983
  • The Disagreement – 1986
  • Victorious – 1986
  • Predators – 1987
  • The Death Dealer II – 1987
  • The Death Dealer III – 1987
  • The Death Dealer IV – 1987
  • The Death Dealer V – 1989
  • Cat Girl II – 1990
  • The Countess and the Greenman – 1991
  • Dawn Attack – 1991
  • The Moons Rapture / Catwalk – 1994
  • Beauty and the Beast – 1995
  • Shi – 1995
  • The Sorceress – 1995
  • The Death Dealer VI – 1996
  • From Dusk till Dawn – 1996

Album covers

Movie posters

Source unless otherwise noted:[38]



  1. "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Feb 2013), Frank A Frazetta, 10 May 2010; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  2. Weber, Bruce, and Dave Itzkoff. "Frank Frazetta, Illustrator, Dies at 82; Helped Define Comic Book Heroes", The New York Times, May 10, 2010
  3. "Frank Frazetta 1928–2010". May 10, 2010. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011.
  4. "Part One: Frank Frazetta Profile". The Boca Beacon. Boca Grande, Florida. April 16, 2010. Archived from the original on April 22, 2011.
  5. Frank, Howard (May 11, 2010). "Frank Frazetta, Master of Fantasy Art, Dead at 82". Pocono Record. Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2017. Includes sidebar: "Frank Frazetta Timeline: A Life Lived for Art".
  6. "Frank Frazetta Interview". The Comics Journal. May 10, 2010. Archived from the original on May 14, 2010.
  7. Tally-Ho Comics at the Grand Comics Database. Retrieved on December 14, 2017. Archived on July 28, 2012.
  8. Frank Frazetta at the Grand Comics Database
  9. "Frank Frazetta Bio". May 2, 2019. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019.
  10. "Frank Frazetta Interview « The Comics Journal". Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  11. Frazetta Art Museum. "Buck Rogers etc". Archived from the original on 15 January 2015. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  12. "Focus: Johnny Comet". January 14, 2019.
  13. Frazetta Art Museum. "Biography". Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  14. Playboy's Little Annie Fanny Vol. 1 (November 2000) and Vol. 2 (September 2001), Dark Horse Comics
  15. Frazetta Art Museum. "Bio, 1960s". Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  16. Frazetta Art museum. "Bio, 1960s". Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  17. "Frazetta Painting Sells for $1 Million". Spectrum. November 14, 2009. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  18. Jerry, Beck (10 May 2010). "Frank Frazetta (1928–2010)". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  19. Gibson, Jon M.; McDonnell, Chris (2008). "Fire and Ice". Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi. Universe Publishing. pp. 192, 196. ISBN 0-7893-1684-6.
  20. Heckman, Michael (June 10, 2010). "III Corps symbol manifests in bronze outside III Corps HQ". Fort Hood Sentinel. Fort Hood, Texas. Archived from the original on February 26, 2017.
  21. Frank Frazetta Fantasy Illustrated at the Grand Comics Database. Retrieved on December 14, 2017. Archived on December 14, 2017.
  22. "Frazetta Son Arrested in $20M Burglary from Family Art museum". Pocono Record. Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. December 10, 2009. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  23. Itzkoff, Dave. "Frank Frazetta, Fantasy Illustrator, Dies at 82", The New York Times, ArtsBeat column, May 10, 2010
  24. Kidwell, David (December 16, 2009). "Frazetta son in court for preliminary hearing". Pocono Record. Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  25. Rubinkam, Michael (April 23, 2010). "Frazetta Ssiblings Resolve Dispute over Fantasy Art". Associated Press. Archived from the original on April 30, 2010.
  27. "Portrait of Nintendo's illustrator". Zelda Universe (official site, Legend of Zelda series). Originally published as "Inside Zelda, Part 3" in Nintendo Power Magazine. 2005. Archived from the original on May 2, 2010.
  28. deviantART visits Epic Games – Gears of War 3 on YouTube
  29. "The Third Degree: Marc Silvestri". Point of Impact. Image Comics. October 2012. Page 27.
  30. "Creating a Graphic Novel : Art – Food – Photography: Shelby Robertson". October 28, 2009. Archived from the original on September 1, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  31. Gilchrist, Todd (April 24, 2012). "'Machete Kills' Director Robert Rodriguez Lines Up 'Fire and Ice' After 'Sin City 2'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  32. Fleming Jr., Mike (December 18, 2014). "Sony Pictures Acquires Robert Rodriguez & His Frank Frazetta Homage 'Fire And Ice'". Deadline Hollywood (Penske Business Media, LLC). Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  33. Whittaker, Richard (November 29, 2013). "Robert Rodriguez: Future Sins, Fiery Projects". The Austin Chronicle. Austin, Texas. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  34. "About". Frazetta Girls, LLC.
  35. Bond, James A. (October 2008). The Definitive Frazetta Reference. Vanguard. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-934331-09-5.
  36. Gaines, William (14 December 1964). "Tales from the Crypt". Ballantine. Retrieved 14 December 2017 via Amazon.
  37. Frazetta Art Museum. "The Destroyer". Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  38. Friedman, Drew. "The Movie Comedy Poster Art of Frank Frazetta". Drew Friedman official blog. Archived from the original on October 28, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.

Further reading

  • Book Testament: The Life and Art of Frank Frazetta, ISBN 1-887424-62-8
  • Movie Frank Frazetta: Painting With Fire
  • Magazine article "Mr. Fantasy", Circus, November 14, 1978
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