Frank Frazetta - 1928 - 2010
Famed artist who worked in comic books, oil painting, book illustration and Hollywood films
Probably the most popular American illustrator of the latter 20th century, influential in comics books and films. His pictures are usually most lauded (or disparaged) for their violence or elements of pop-culture sexual imagery, usually represented by the hyper-musculature on female and male figure alike. He was influenced by Hollywood films and artists like Howard Pyle.
Frank Frazetta Time line
- February 9: Frank Frazetta is born in Brooklyn, New York.
- Early 1930s: Frazetta enrolls at the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts at the age of eight.
- Late 1940s: Begins his professional career in the comic book world. Works for various publishers including EC Comics and DC Comics/National Periodicals.
- Continues comic book work.
- Works as a "ghost" artist for Al Capp on the "Li'l Abner" comic strip.
- Early 1960s: Frazetta's cover illustrations for reprints of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan" and "John Carter of Mars" series elevate his fame.
- Mid-1960s: His portrait of Ringo Starr, in a cleverly realized parody form, is seen by Hollywood producers who begin sending film poster work to him..
- Mid-1960s: His iconic covers for Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Barbarian" series begins which both boosts the sales of the paperback books featuring the character, but also the name of the artist.
- Frazetta's work continues to appear as movie posters, book covers, magazine ads, magazine covers, and in a new addition to his commercial market, album covers for rock bands.
- Frazetta art begins to be "bootlegged" onto the sides of automotive vans and into black market publications that illegally collect his ink drawings, usually published using the new low-cost technology of photocopying.
- Frazetta's Death Dealer appears on the cover of the magazine American Artist along with a profile article, and interviews with the artist begin to spread through more mainstream establishment publications.
- The Frazetta family opens the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, showcasing many of his original artworks.
- Early 2000s: Faces significant health challenges, including strokes that impair his right hand and thyroid problems. He trains himself to draw and paint using his left hand.
- May 10: Frank Frazetta passes away in Florida.
Frank Frazetta cover to Dark Crusade by Karl Edward Wagner sells for $6 million, the high point (thus far) for a Frazetta painting. The painting is listed as Dark Kingdom when using Frazetta's own title for the image.
(Youtube video) Boca Grande Florida Museum
The East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania Museum Frank Frazetta Museum
Egyptian Queen goes for $5.4 million
May 16, 2019: Originally Egyptian Queen was done in 1969 for Eerie #23. This auction high price beats out the old record of $1,792,500.00 million for Death Dealer #6 painted in 1990 and sold at auction on May 10, 2018. Frazetta has said that Egyptian Queen painting was done quickly until he got to the face, and he spent three days trying to get it right, finally giving up because he said he'd "gone blind" to it. Later when the image was returned from Warren Publications (which Frazetta has said paid on average around $250 for his cover illos), Frazetta saw exactly what was the matter and he repainted the face "in under five minutes."
2018 - Nov 17
Hand-colored repro of Weird Science #29 by Frazetta goes for $8,400.00 (A previous sale at Heritage Auctions in 2013 sold a similar print for $3,107.00)
See the page at Heritage Auction
Frazetta painting from Vampirella #5 goes for $286,800.00 at auction with Heritage, August 1, 2013. The female figure seems to be the same one from Frazetta's Queen Kong, 1976.
More lists of Comic Book Money
Robert Rodriguez to make "Frazetta" themed films
Rodriguez is no stranger to comic-book and phantasy sourced films, and has announced an effort to bring the Ralph Bakshi-Frazetta rotoscope epic "Fire and Ice" to screens as a live-action motion picture. Also mentioned is a film to be based on Frazetta's Death Dealer paintings - whether that means the 5-novel series written by James Silke, or rather just an effort to adapt an oil painting into a movie, wasn't clear.
Rodriguez also said he plans to develop a museum, with cooperation of the Frazetta family, to be located in Austin, Texas, to exhibit Frazetta paintings for public viewing.
If so, this would be the first outing of the Frazetta paintings since they went into storage after Frazetta's death, and since the 'Frazetta Museum' closed. [Update 2020: Note that there is a Frazetta Museum in Florida in Boca Grande, and one in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, each operated by the Frazetta children.)
Rodriquez plans include the design of the museum to "be like a Frazetta painting."
Huge 41x77 One Sheet Frazetta Movie Poster The Gauntlet
Heritage Auctions typically features huge image reproductions of collectibles they are selling. The Frazetta artwork for the Clint Eastwood "Gauntlet" movie (being sold online here) is blown up to a size vastly larger than Frazetta's original piece, allowing inspection of his artwork on a magnified level.
The image is also reproduced in the Underwood "Frazetta Icon" book, page 45, where Frazetta is quoted as saying that Eastwood originally came to him with the idea of making the poster look like the "Dark Kingdom" artwork.
"Death Dealer" in scale fiberglass sculptureThe "Phantom Warrior mascot" full-scale fiberglass model representing the III Corps of the U.S. Army. Photo by Michael Heckman. The shield insignia is a combat designation badge. More photos and story at the Fort Hood Sentinel online newspaper]
December 19, 2010
Frazetta Family Feud is re-ignited over claims of non-distribution of earnings
Not surprising to fans who have been following the ongoing Frazetta family debacle, Frank Frazetta, Jr., has filed a lawsuit to force an accounting of the doings of the Frazetta family trust. An Associated Press report at ABC News online carries the details:
"Frazetta Jr.'s latest complaint alleges that his siblings — Billy Frazetta, Holly Frazetta Taylor and Heidi Grabin — had violated the terms of the settlement by failing to pay him the 25–percent share of the estate his father intended him to have. He also claims they have not provided an accurate accounting of the business dealings involving his father's art and have not involved him in their decisions as agreed.
"It's been continuous pleading with them to try to figure out what's going on," said Frazetta Jr.'s Miami attorney, Diana L. Fitzgerald. The suit was filed in Florida because Frazetta Jr.'s sisters live here."
July 22, 2010
Conan The Destroyer sells for $1.5 million USD
Well, the land rush continues on the high-profile Frank Frazetta paintings with "Destroyer" going for $1.5 million to a private collector. "Conan the Conqueror" (also called "The Berserker") went for $1 million USD in November of 2009. "Conan the Destroyer" is probably the second best known Conan painting by Frazetta (number one being "Conan the Adventurer,"also called "The Barbarian".) Frazetta's ink drawing for EC Comics Weird Science Fantasy #29 sold for $380,000 recently.
How long until "Rogues in the House" (AKA simply "Conan") and "The Snow Giants" ("Conan of Cimmeria") go?
"...Managers Robert Pistella and Stephen Ferzoco call the price the highest ever for a work by Frazetta.
...In recent years, his children have fought over an estate estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars."
July 18, 2010
Frazetta Family celebration held
Article at the Pocono Record Writer covering the event, written by Howard Frank.
"A tribute was held Saturday in East Stroudsburg for the Marshalls Creek-based master artist who died on May 10 at the age of 82.
..."Frank was a pleasant, quiet man who wasn't interested in the limelight" Attorney Gerry Geiger said. "He just wanted to paint."
"The art — he didn't do it for the fame. He was a humble man," Frazetta's daughter Holly said."
The entire article carries various stories about Frazetta, along with some reminisces by fans.
Frank Frazetta "Warrior with Ball and Chain" attributed 1973
16'x19" oil painting on canvas board
Sold for $150,000 USD in the 2010 May Illustration Art Auction from Heritage Auctions.
This image was originally used as the cover for the anthology paperback "Flashing Swords #1" from 1974 (erroneously attributed as 'Flashing Swords #2' in the Frazetta Legacy book put out by Underwood in 1999). (The hardcover versions of Flashing Swords #1 and #2, printed in 1973, featured other Frazetta paintings not used in the paperback editions, which bolsters the claim by Ellie Frazetta that the collectibility of the Frazetta cover art alone created sales for publishers, and was an intended effect when commissioning Frazetta cover art.)
Frazetta's color usage in this image for "Flashing Swords #1" (Paperback) is a throwback to Frazetta's efforts from the 1960s, versus the more controlled color of, for example, "Death Dealer" which appeared as the cover for Flashing Swords #2, also in 1974.
Interesting note about Frazetta's muscle distortion: the warrior in the artwork has a five row abdominal mass, but this placement is at odds to actual male anatomy.
Artist tributes to Frazetta
Item at Gizmodo
May 14, 2010
July 17, 2010
The Pocono Record has an announcement about a special Frank Frazetta fan appreciation event hosted by Bill, Holly and Heidi Frazetta in East Stroudsburg set for Saturday, July 17.
"The Saturday event will feature a documentary on the life of Frank Frazetta, and representations of his life work will be on display. There will be a slide show with both published and private photos Frazetta and his family.
Those attending will receive memorabilia, including a copy of the artist's self-portrait.
"I just want to do something that is going to be meaningful to the fans, and those who were involved with us and our lives," Bill said. "And do it in a way that my dad would have enjoyed himself."
June 9, 2010
Frazetta's cover to Weird Science Fantasy #29 sells for $380k
When alive, Frank Frazetta boasted that he had turned down offers of $250,000 for this artwork, and that it ran as a cover for EC Comics in 1955 only because it was rejected by its intended publisher, Famous Funnies. Frazetta took it to EC Comics, and was able to work out a special deal to keep the original artwork, perhaps the only time EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines made such a deal during the halcyon days when EC was but a mere comic book publisher.
Story about the sell of the piece at the Pocono Record
"The original artwork for a comic book cover drawn in 1955 by the late fantasy artist and Marshalls Creek resident Frank Frazetta just sold for a record-setting $380,000.
The pen-and-ink drawing was purchased by Heritage Auctions co-founder Jim Halperin.
...The cover is the first piece of Frazetta art to be sold since the artist's death May 10.
"Frazetta did a total of 42 comic book covers, many of which are no longer thought to exist as original art, though WSF No. 29 is by far his most famous." Halperin said.
Halperin was approached by agents for the Frazetta family to sell the art.
"I was thrilled to pay their asking price," he said, "which, although it set a new record by a wide margin, actually seemed quite fair for the ultimate EC cover."
UPDATE MAY 2011: The Frazetta record for highest price paid for a single piece of comic book art was beat by the sell of a Frank Miller splash page for $448K. Read about the Frank Miller artwork here.
May 10, 2010: Frazetta has died
Returning home from a “Mother’s Day” meal, Frazetta complained of pain and was rushed to a hospital where he later expired. Cause of death is attributed to a stroke. He was at his "second home" on the isle of Boca Grande in Florida. He was 82.
Frazetta was easily the preeminent fantasy book illustrator of the 60s and 70s, Frazetta is also famous for highly-regarded 1950’s comic book work and for a long string of covers for the Warren Magazines.
Obituary at the Pocono Record
OLD NEWS: The Frazetta Feud "Officially Over"
April 26, 2010: The Pocono Record, and other news outlets have been reporting the end of the Frazetta Museum family fight after agreements were reached by Frazetta Sr and his kids through a federal mediator and their attorneys. Here's some of the highlights:
- Trademark infringement case dropped by Frazetta Sr - Pocono Record
- "Death Dealer Statue" commission for U.S.Army at the center of the trademark infringement case - Pocono Record
- Frazetta Dispute Over - cbc.ca online
- "Ghost of Ellie" website has gone offline
The Frazetta Museum Feud
April 21, 2010: The Pocono Record, which has been monitoring local celebrity Frank Frazetta pretty closely as his internal family squables unfold into legal cases, now reports another burglary at the home of Frazetta Sr:
The theft was discovered Monday night at about 7:30 when Frank Sr. and his son Bill Frazetta went to the home. Frank Sr. has been staying at his Florida home over the last several weeks.
No inventory of missing items had been taken yet, but Frank Sr. noticed several cameras and a gun collection he'd accumulated over many years were gone, according to Heidi Grabin, Frank Sr.'s daughter.
A knife was found outside one of the home's windows. The window appeared to have chipped paint, as though it had been jimmied. Grabin also said it appeared the thief rifled through a photo album and placed a picture of Frank Sr.'s late wife, Ellie, on his desk."
April 1, 2010: A vigil to demonstrate in favor of preserving the East Stroudsburg, PA ''Frazetta Museum' was held on March 26. As usual, the Pocono Record covered the story with good detail:
"...Many spoke in remembrance of Ellie, considered the glue of the family. Ellie handled all the business issues, leaving Frank Sr. to paint.
"If she were here, this never would have happened," someone said.
John Harding, longtime pastor to Frank Sr. and Ellie, said after she died, a lot of decisions were made in a hurry."
March 26, 2010: The Frazetta Feud goes on. Recent web sites online seem to advance the interests of the parties involved: theghostofellie (named after Frank Frazetta Srs wife Ellie Frazetta) takes the side of Alfonso Frazetta Jr. And
the site frankfrazettamuseum seems to be on the side of the other three Frazetta children, and has the bonus of Frank Frazetta himself
speaking in online video from his place at Boca Grande in Florida.
Frazetta looks 'lucid'in the online video, which is the main point I think they're trying to get across, to counter the claims that Frazetta Sr is lost in dementia and being held against his will. The video has a bit of travelogue of the local area at Boca Grande with a soundtrack of Caribbean drums playing, and Frazetta himself seems to be having a good time with grandkids and his daughters in the video.
[Below: The Ghost of Ellie blog site.]
From the beginning, no one has covered this as well as the Pennsylvania newspaper Pocono Record, they've had multiple stories and video on the matter rightoff from the original 'burglary' attempt at the Museum in December of 2009.
Frazetta Sr was interviewed in a March 26 issue of the Pocono Record:
"Frank Sr. said he didn't understand why his son thought he had permission to take his paintings. But he doesn't think Frank Jr. was acting in his best interests, as the son has claimed.
"No, absolutely not. I don't know what the hell he was doing," Frank Sr. said.
Frank Jr. and his wife, Lori Frazetta, have claimed Frank Sr. was being controlled by the other three siblings, and held against his will in Florida.
Frank Sr. denied the accusation.
"I'm in my own home," he said. "I'm the only one who lives here. Yes, absolutely I'm under my own free will. My daughters don't tell me what to do. I'm a man of my own word."
Frank Jr. awaits trial in Monroe County Court on charges of burglary, theft by unlawful taking and criminal trespass.
March 16, 2010: The situation over Frazetta Srs artwork gets crazier as lawsuits hit the courts. Frank Sr. is supposedly laying infringement charges protecting his copyright ownership against Frazetta Jr. This is on top of Frazetta Jr's Burglary charges from last December which is slowly moving through the PA court system. Courthouse news has the story on the suit between father against son.
Update Feb 25, 2010: Looks like Frank Frazetta JR is going to court on burglary charges for either stealing (or rescuing, depending upon which story you follow) Frazetta SR's paintings from the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, PA. Again the Pocono Record has the best info.
Update December 17: From the Pocono Record, which has the best grip on the twists and turns of this story: "Speaking to reporters outside a Marshalls Creek court office, notary Adeline Bianco of Shirley Katz Insurance and A&S Katz said artist Frank Frazetta, 81, came to her office Nov. 30 and signed a document authorizing his son Alfonso Frank Frazetta, known as Frank Jr., to secure the artist's paintings "by any means possible."
Bianco notarized the document and returned it to Frank Sr. She also said she revoked a power-of-attorney held by the artist's other three children, Bill Frazetta of East Stroudsburg and sisters Holly Taylor and Heidi Gravin, both of Florida.
Frank Jr. was charged Dec. 9 with stealing 90 of his father's paintings housed in the family museum near Marshalls Creek. He contends he was trying to inventory and secure the paintings for his father and that he had to use a backhoe to gain entry to the museum because he had chained the doors a few days prior."
Update December 16, 2009: Frazetta Jr is now out on reduced bail, and with his attorney carrying a notarized letter from Frank Frazetta Sr authorizing Frazetta Jr to move the paintings to a secure storage facility, the legal aspects of the 'burglary' seems to be dissolving into a simple family feud over ownership of the painting collection valued at some $20 million USD. Again, the Pocono Record seems to have the best news round up on this whole debacle.
One disturbing aspect of this is the online video at Pocono in which Lori Frazetta, Jr's wife, says to the effect that Frazetta Sr is not being properly cared for (he is currently in Florida). Frank Frazetta Sr is 81 years old.
Dec 15: The Pocono Record has concise overview of the situation about the attempted burglary here, along with a mini-bio of Frazetta Sr. Frazetta Jr goes up before a Pennsylvania judge at a hearing on Wednesday, December 16, presumably to find out if the county will proceed with charges or if they'll be dropped.
December 11: Alfonso Frazetta is quoted in a BBC news report on the robbery that he was instructed by Frazetta Sr to take the museums paintings: "A police affidavit said Mr Frazetta Jnr, 52, claimed he had been instructed by his father to "enter the museum by any means necessary to move all the paintings to a storage facility", the agency reported. Mr Frazetta Snr denied granting any such permission, the agency said."
A longer news report is at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
December 10, 2009: The Lehigh Valley News reports that Alfonso Frank Frazetta, son of Frank Frazetta, attempted to steal the paintings of the Frazetta Museum in Pennsylvania by breaking down a door with a backhoe, and then he and another man were caught by Pocono County police while loading a truck with the paintings.
"Alfonso Frank Frazetta forcefully entered his father's art museum on Business Route 209 in Smithfield Township by damaging a door with a backhoe, then pulling it off its hinges, police said. Frazetta was helped by another man who was operating the backhoe. Charges are pending against that man, police said.
Police said once inside, Frazetta stole about 90 paintings and was loading them into a truck when he was caught by police. He is charged with burglary, criminal trespass and theft."
The director of the museum, Eleanor "Ellie" Frazetta, died on July 17, 2009 after a long battle with cancer.
More Frank Frazetta
Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta Hardcover – July 21, 2020
by J David Spurlock (Author), Frank Frazetta Jr. (Afterword)
Conan the Phenomenon - Dark Horse Conan historian Paul Sammon looks at all the stages of the character's development, with commentary and archival material from the most integral players in that history, in this must-have book for anyone who's followed the barbarian through any of his incarnations.
Original Page 2009 | Updated August 9, 2023