Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) - Homage to an Inspirational Artist
I have been a fan since I was a teenager (and was for many years a collector) of the published artwork of Frank Frazetta (even traveling all the way to Queens to buy a Famous Funnies comic with a Frazetta cover long before we had the Internet); I spent many happy hours "imitating" Frazetta (you can see some of my youthful efforts below). I am not an artist (more at home with zeroes and ones than pen and ink), but I spent many happy hours in my youth attempting to draw, ink and paint, inspired in large part by the work of Frank Frazetta (which first came to my attention through fanzines and the wonderful Ace Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks). As I grew older and took up a profession, my priorities shifted and I have contented myself with admiring and enjoying the artwork of others (Frank Frazetta above all).
Here are just a few images I have gathered from various sources on the Internet (see the list below for the sources I have bookmarked). I would have preferred to put them all here, but there are so many and the quality of the images here does not do the originals justice. In a few cases I have some (published) images that I have not encountered on the Internet; I will scan those and add them here at some point (alas, no original artwork). There are many fine books available now that compensate for the scarcity of the original publications (and there are always eBay and various auction sites for the diligent); I recently learned that Vanguard Productions in New Jersey will be shipping The Definitive Frazetta Reference in August [2009 or 2010].
Note: The Definitive Frazetta Reference is sold out and is no longer available from Vanguard Productions.
Years ago I planned to visit the museum so I could see the originals up close, but my plans fell through and I never found the time to go. I wish I had. But here is my tardy thanks to Frank for all the years of pleasure that his talent has given me. I hope you enjoy his work, too.
Note: The Frazetta Art Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania is open.
Figure 1. Tarzan and the Lost Empire Ace paperback cover 
This is the painting that first introduced me to Frank Frazetta (I have subsequently learned that a lot of the Li'l Abner and Fearless Fosdick cartoons I read in the Sunday papers before discovering the Ace paperback were done by Frazetta). I rode my bicycle to a stationery store a few towns away and was really captivated by the image. I started buying everything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs (as well as the books with covers by Roy G. Krenkel, whom I also admire, though his work didn't excite me the way Frazetta's could); beside it is the Ace F-169 paperback cover so you can see how it was used. I have wanted to recreate this painting for years (and still haven't gotten to it); perhaps in retirement.
Figure 2. Famous Funnies #214 Buck Rogers comic book cover 
This drawing still takes my breath away. It's really hard to pick favorites, but this one is definitely in the top ten. I didn't find this cover first but I like it more than all the others; I even used it as computer wallpaper for a while. I never owned the comic book, but I did buy a print of the image (as part of a set of the Russ Cochran Buck Rogers drawings).
Figure 3. Famous Funnies #210 Buck Rogers comic book cover 
This is probably the best of my own attempts to recreate Frazetta drawings (done with india ink on a manila folder before I got out of college). I rendered Buck Rogers as drawn by Frazetta on the cover of Famous Funnies #210 and used it for an ad I was developing to sell some of my comics (which I never submitted). I eventually acquired the Russ Cochran prints of all the Famous Funnies covers (just the Frazetta artwork, not an image of the cover). I tried drawing some of the other images, but they didn't turn out very well and I won't subject you to my failed efforts.
Figure 4. Durango Kid #11 splash page for White Indian comic book story 
I really enjoy this image with the red sun behind the snow, but I prefer the original Dan Brand story (before he was re-"branded" as White Indian). I took great pains to find this story and it was among my prized possessions before I sold my collection. I attempted to use this image later for my own stationery (in 1991, but as you can see I didn't quite capture it). By this time my career left me very little time to draw and I had definitely lost some skill at the drawing board.
Figure 5. Durango Kid #10 splash page for White Indian comic book story 
I drew this image with a ballpoint pen onto a mimeograph sheet shortly after getting out of the Navy, but I later transferred it to paper and darkened the image with a felt tipped pen. I think I used and re-used this image for a variety of things (newsletters, book covers and correspondence), but only one of them survived all my moving and rearranging.
Figure 6. Flash Gordon daily comic strip pencils for Dan Barry [2-27-1953]
Frazetta drew for science fiction, western, funny animal, "fantasy", jungle, war, romance and just about every kind of story. I didn't know that he ghosted the Flash Gordon daily strip for a long time until I ran across an ad for the Flash Gordon daily reprints, but this is a great example of his drawing skill.
I had a little trouble scanning the published version (but here is most of it, for comparison) [Flash Gordon, the Complete Daily Strips, November 1951 - April 1953; Kitchen Sink Press - ISBN 0-87816-035-3].
Figure 7. Weird Science-Fantasy #29 comic book cover 
I liked this image so much I started to paint it in oils (I didn't get very far); I abandoned my attempt shortly after beginning my career in computer programming. Frazetta originally intended the drawing for the next Famous Funnies cover, but they rejected it so it found its way to the cover of EC's Weird Science-Fantasy #29 instead. For the full story on this, visit the Pencil Ink blog.
Figure 8. Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar Ace paperback cover 
This is another one of his paintings I like so much I want to paint it in oils myself; the Ace F-204 paperback cover is on the right. I found the paperback cover at a very interesting site called Cover Browser, which has covers of comic books, books, magazines and more. One very interesting feature of the site is that it has a link to eBay under the covers that allows you to locate a copy to purchase! Great idea.
Figure 9. Beyond the Farthest Star Ace paperback cover 
This is another one of his paintings I want to paint in oils myself (are you seeing a pattern yet); the Ace F-282 paperback cover is on the right so you can see how it originally appeared.
Note: I have been able to find images of the paperback covers on a number of interesting sites, but I rely on eBay and Amazon most of the time. Clicking on the image will take you to the site where I found the one shown here; I cropped it to fit my format.
Figure 10. Blazing Combat #1 Warren magazine cover 
Frazetta did many covers for the Warren magazines (Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella and Blazing Combat) which led to his work being very widely known and appreciated. The covers for Blazing Combat hark back to some of his earlier work for Heroic Comics, when he did several short combat stories.
Figure 11. Death Dealer 
This Frazetta image is certainly one of his most well known. I was working for a software company in Harvard Square in the late seventies and chose this image to have framed on my office wall. Imagine my surprise when I discussed this with a co-worker and discovered that he had also been inspired to recreate works by Frazetta. Here is the story behind his pastel rendering of Death Dealer!
I was introduced to Frank Frazetta in the spring of 1976 at a book store on the corner of Colfax Ave. and Broadway in Denver, Colorado (near the capitol building). While browsing his work, I had an instant urge to recreate some of his work, and this drawing is just one of many of that result. Unfortunately this is the only one of my drawings that survived to this day. I brought back three drawings and I remember one was a woman in a wooded area, laying in the snow clutching a baby with wolves approaching her. I cannot remember what the third drawing was about. I drew these while recuperating from a leg and arm operation using colored charcoal. I was immobile for a few months, due to the operation, and decided to fill some of my down time drawing pictures from a Frazetta book. I am left eye dominant and throw a ball with my left hand. Fortunately, I use my right hand to write with.
- Harold Tranten
Figure 12. Wolves 
This is the painting that Harold referred to above. I think I have the paperback somewhere, but have not located it yet. When I find it I will display the image here.
Obituaries and Remembrances, Sources and Links
- Seduction of the Indifferent
- Cartoon Brew
- Frank Frazetta official site [?]
- Data Junkie
- flickr - bbmason1981
You can click on some of the images to see the web page where I found the image (or fish through the Sources and Links). I have only recently discovered many of these images after years of owning his published work; the Internet (and Google) makes so much more available and I am still discovering work that I have never seen before! In some cases clicking on an image will lead you to full-size images, complete runs of covers, complete stories, interesting articles and insights about Frazetta, or interesting information about other artists and people who have worked with Frank or have known him over the years. To give a sense of the variety of his work, I plan to deliberately restrict the images that I add here to a small subset. Sometimes my sources will treat Frazetta only incidentally in a wider context or in conjunction with another artist (such as Al Williamson or Al Capp); my appreciation of his work has led me to many other great artists!
Many of the images I found are from blogs (and many on pages hosted by a relatively small number of bloggers who deserve much credit for making so much of Frazetta's work available). In some cases, I gathered the image some time ago (before I started tracking the source for each image); I will attempt to determine the source over time and give credit where credit is due. I acquired many of the comics, magazines and books at one time or another (before selling them to help finance my career), so this page is also a trip down memory lane for me. Since then I have purchased many of the reprints and many books about Frazetta. While they aren't quite the same as the original artwork, they are still quite wonderful and I encourage you to have a look for yourself!
I am refreshing this page in 2020 (to publish it again after its original publication ten years ago), so many of the links from the original page no longer work! I have tried to remove the links that no longer work.