Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Frazetta, Frank

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(1928-2010) Influential US artist of Heroic-Fantasy subjects with a classic painterly style and subtle colour sense. His distinctive depictions of strong-muscled men and voluptuous, softly rounded women have brought him worldwide recognition. FF works in oils on canvas in the great tradition of US Illustration; the influence of Howard Pyle, Frank Schoonover and N C Wyeth can be detected in his mature work, along with that of the Czech artist Zdeneč Burian.

FF's first professional job was as assistant to sf illustrator John Giunta, and his first Comic strip, Snowman, was published in Bailey Publishing's Tally Ho Comics #1 (1944). In 1947 FF began to draw funny-animal strips for Standard Publishing – including Hucky Duck and Bruno Bear – and a year after drew a complete episode of Judy of the Jungle in Exciting Comics #59. Later that year he began working for Magazine Enterprises (ME), signing his work "Fritz"; and it was for this company that he produced one of his longest-running strips, Dan Brand and Tipi. During this period he also drew strips for Standard, Hillman and National (later DC Comics), and in 1951 drew regularly for the Famous Funnies titles Heroic Comics and Personal Love; a short-lived newspaper strip, Johnny Comet, came in 1952.

That year ME published FF's four classic Thun-da, King of the Congo strips in Thun-da #1 (1952), about a Tarzan-style character pitted against prehistoric beasts. There followed the equally memorable White Indian (#11, #12, #13 1953). FF then began to work for EC Comics, but drew only one story by himself, Squeeze Play (in Shock Suspense Stories March 1954) – although he collaborated on several others with artists like Al Williamson, Angelo Torres and Roy G Krenkel. In 1953-1962 FF worked as an assistant to Al Capp on Lil' Abner, and then went on to men's magazines (Gent, Dude and Cavalcade) and a short stint on Playboy's Little Annie Fanny with Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis and Will Elder.

In the early 1960s Ace Books began reprinting the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs and FF undertook (largely at the instigation of Krenkel) to paint the cover illustrations. These were enormously successful (one, the cover for Back to the Stone Age, won the New York Society of Illustrators' Award of Excellence). He did cover paintings for Lancer's series of Conan reprints and for Warren Publishing's Eerie, Creepy and Blazing Combat.

FF still produces sf and fantasy paintings for a long list of publications, as well as posters and portfolios. His character Death Dealer has been the basis of a series of novels by James R Silke and the comic book Deathdealer (#1 1995), drawn by Simon Bisley. FF won a Hugo Award in 1966. [RT]

other works: Many compilations of FF's work, from all sources, have been put together. The widest range of styles is represented in The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta (graph coll 1975) with intro by Betty Ballantine, Frank Frazetta: Book Two (graph coll 1977), Book Three (graph coll 1978), Book Four (graph coll 1980), Book Five (graph coll 1985), these latter four ed Ballantine. FF's funny-animal art is featured in Small Wonders: The Funny Animal Art of Frank Frazetta (graph coll 1992). Reprinted strips include Thun'da, King of the Congo (graph coll 1973). Frank Frazetta, The Living Legend (graph coll 1981) is by FF himself, while The Frazetta Pillow Book (graph coll 1994) features a collection of some of his erotica. Frank Frazetta (graph coll 1994), produced as an auction catalogue, provides one of the best showcases of his work. His most recent work is featured in Illustrations Arcanum (graph coll 1994).

further reading: Interview with FF in The Comics Journal #174 (1995).

Frank Frazetta


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.