Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 10th, 2010
Photo credit: Frazetta Properties. LLC
The Times noted that “Frazetta was a versatile and prolific comic book artist who, in the 1940s and ’50s, drew for comic strips like Al Capp’s ‘Lil’ Abner’ and comic books like ‘Famous Funnies,’ for which he contributed a series of covers depicting the futuristic adventurer Buck Rogers.”
Frazetta perhaps was best known in cryptozoology and Fortean circles for the art that would be used in a later edition of John A. Keel’s book, The Mothman Prophecies, published by Ron Bonds. Bonds died mysterious (see here, #55) on April 8, 2001.
Former well-known New York City literary agent Sandra Martin told me: “John [Keel] attributed the success of that book to the cover.”
It was the “discovery” of Bond’s IllumiNet Press edited that resulted in the movie of the same name. Screenwriter Richard Hatem recounted that he “discovered” the book in an old book store, when it literally fell into his hands from a shelf.
Comic book and science fantasy/fiction book cover art was the source of most of Frazetta’s fame. His covers of “strikingly fierce, hard-bodied heroes and bosomy, callipygian damsels in distress” were legendary. Some of his well-known art was found on such books as Conan the Adventurer, John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars, and Tarzan and the Antmen.
Frank Frazetta’s creativity inspired many within cryptozoology, science fiction, and beyond. His Mothman art is well-known.
Frazetta imagined Mothman differently than how the creature was described initially (which was as a giant bird, more avian that moth-like). He seems to have been overly influenced by the name, which was an Ohio copyeditor’s invention that had little to do with the actual appearance of the Mothman seen in 1966-1967. But there is no doubt that once drawn, Frazetta’s impact was great.
Indeed, Frazetta’s Mothman cover art would then go on to influence the sculpture built in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in honor of the Mothman lore (seen below), near the present-day Mothman museum there.
Earlier than his Mothman art for John Keel, was Frazetta’s Strange Creatures cover.
The cover of John A. Keel’s paperback book, Strange Creatures from Time and Space (NY: Fawcett, 1970) has informed and influenced many, from the 1970s to present.
For example, Secret Lab Studios, in association with Thrill House Comics, and the Weta Workshop Design Team of New Zealand announced in 2006 that they were collaborating on designs for Cryptid, a new and original intellectual property then in development as a feature film, video game, graphic novel and toy line. One of their cornerstone artists was Frank Frazetta.
Others have seen Frazetta do his magic too, on the covers of their Fortean books. Brad Steiger told me this evening, the following: “When my editor at Dell asked if I had any ideas for a cover, I answered that I didn’t care as long as Frank Frazetta did it.”
Atlantis Rising by Brad Steiger used Frank Frazetta for his cover.
Some say that Frazetta’s most influential and impressive painting is the above one from a modern edition of A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. “John Carter” on Mars will be explored in forthcoming movies.
But for cryptozoologists, however, the most famous Frazettas will always be the covers for the 1970 paperback Strange Creatures From Time and Space and the 1991 edition of The Mothman Prophecies.
For Frazetta, needless to say, no one piece of art was as important as the following, the unfinished image of his deceased wife, Ellie, who passed away on July 17th, 2009, and whom he reportedly missed dearly.
Ellie Frazetta by Frank Frazetta.
For more information about obtaining Frank Frazetta’s art and prints, in the past one could go to the official Frazetta site (but it is closed for a time due to personal estate matters). It may be open again, but the alternative formerly was to visit the unofficial Frazetta site.
Frazetta’s recreation of the killing of the Mokele-Mbembe by Pygmies near Lake Tele’ in the Congo, circa 1960. (Thanks to a reminder from Paul Dini.)
Also, Boing Boing has an awesome painting of the master himself at their Frank Frazetta R.I.P. notice.
Frank Frazetta art remains; he will be missed.