» Frank Frazetta Biography
by Susan Belmont - November 5, 2003
Frank Frazetta is the most influential illustrator of the 20th century. All of his works have a unique quality, which sets them apart from even some of the best fantasy illustrations that there are.
And nowadays, Frazetta is a living legend, a man who saw the comics world change from little more than the conventional world to an almost infinitely diverse realm. And he didn't only stay watching.
A Modest But Ambitious Beginning
Frank Frazetta was born in New York City in 1928, at age 3 he started to draw and at age 8 he started to sell his works amongst his friends, and his first comic story "The Snowman" that was published in the Tally-Ho Comics when he was 16 years old, in 1944.
Throughout the 1940s, he worked in the Standard Publishing Co. doing illustrations to text stories, but he also worked on the stories himself sometimes, which went from children's comic stories to western and action teenage ones. Meanwhile, he was developing his skills as a painter.
In the 1950s, he worked to several of the most important comic publishers, like DC Comics, where he did the illustrations for "The Shining Knight"; ME, where he worked on "White Indian", "Ghost Rider", etc; plus he worked at ACG, Avon, Eastern, Standard, EC, and still worked on his own strip "Johnny Comet".
From1953 until the early 60s, he worked for Al Capp as an illustrator for the comics "Li'l Abner" and after this period, he had to face the new laws of the comics market and the demands of its new public.
Some of his first works in that decade, were for the men's magazines Gent and Dude, and he also did illustrations to the paperback novels "The Midwood Doubles", whose drawings are known nowadays as The Sensuous Frazetta and have been reprinted several times since then.
Following the advice of his friend, the comic illustrator Roy Krenkel, he decided to start working as an illustrator for sci-fi/fantasy/horror paperback books, and his first job was to make the covers of "Tarzan" for Ace Books.
His last comics work though, was the story Jim Warren asked him to illustrate in 1964, for his Creepy magazine. Soon afterwards, Frazetta did a cover for Mad Magazine in which a satire of Ringo Starr appeared.
And that was when the wheel was turned forever for him, because he started to work basically as a painter, whose creations were going to show another side of the fantasy world.
A New Way To Illustrate Fiction
From 1965 to 1973 he worked on the covers of "Warren Creepy", "Eerie", "Vampirella", "Conan", "Black Emperor", "Wolfman", and "Sorcerer", plus several movie posters and finally, his illustrations appeared even in a magazine published by Dow Chemicals in 1973.
That was when the new generation of illustrations started to get inspired by him, and sometimes where even told to paint in his way, some of the examples are Jeff Jones, Berni Wrightson and Boris Vallejo.
Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, he published the illustrated books "Kubla Khan", "Women Of The Ages" and "Lord Of the Rings", produced the movie "Fire & Ice", and still worked on many paperback covers.
By the end of the 80s and through the 90s, Frazetta started to suffer thyroid problems which diminished his stamina to go on working so much and well, but his works never stopped being done and published.
He recently suffered two strokes and he's recovering from them.
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Copyright © 2003 Susan Belmont