Monday, May 17, 2010

Frank Frazetta: Top Fantasy Illustrator Dies

The fantasy illustrations of Frank Frazetta are a good example of why it is important to expand our vocabulary of visual phenomenon to include visual communication, design, visual culture and fine art. The fine art world looks down their noses at Frazetta's work because it is so blatantly part of the popular culture fantasy fiction phenomenon. If the only perspective we have to approach the rich world of visualization is "art" then Frazetta, rather than being recognized as one of the world's most important icons of visual culture, could be mistakenly dismissed as a "bad" or "failed" artist.

Frank Frazetta (right), one of the most influential illustrators of comic books, movie posters and paperback book covers, died on May 10, 2010 in Fort Myers, Florida at the age of 82. Frazetta led the field of illustrators who depicted musclebound men fighting with swords and axes to defend scantily dressed women. He helped define fantasy heroes like Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.

Frank Frazetta's book cover illustrations created a new look for fantasy adventure novels and established Frazetta as an artist who could sell books just by having one of his paintings on the cover. He illustrated Conan books (including “Conan the Conqueror,” “Conan the Usurper” and “Conan the Avenger”) and works by Edgar Rice Burroughs (including “John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars” and “Tarzan and the Antmen”).

His illustrations were so influential that paperback publishers were known to buy one of his paintings for use as a cover, then commission a writer to turn out a novel to go with it. Other top illustrators and imitators were frustrated by Frazetta's ability to draw and paint any subject with great power and animation seemingly effortlessly.

Click on the heading above to see more of Frazetta's work.

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