90 Years of Frank Frazetta

Feb 5, 2018 by

Born in Brooklyn, New York on February 9, 1928, Frank Frazetta would turn ninety years old this week. Although he never worked in the pulp industry, Frazetta  — along with James Bama — drew many into the pulp community. Bama’s Doc Savage cover art and Frazetta’s paintings for Lancer’s Conan paperbacks and Ace Books’ Edgar Rice Burroughs line coaxed many hard-earned quarters from the pockets of youngsters growing up during the 1960s. Many of these then-young enthusiasts became pulp collectors, seeking the source material from whence the paperbacks were drawn.

As a child, Frazetta was enrolled in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. He studied under Michele Falanga. At the age of sixteen, the talented young artist began working in Bernard Baily’s comic book studio. Recognizing the youngster’s skill, Graham Ingels helped Frazetta find work with Standard Comics. Before long, Frazetta was working in a wide range of genres including fantasy, funny animal, mystery, romance, superhero, war, and western comics. His work was featured in the comic book lines of Avon, Dell, EC, National Comics, and other publishers.

During the 1950s, Frank Frazetta began working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip. He also helped Dan Barry with the Flash Gordon daily strip and produced his own comic strip — Johnny Comet — during this period. Eventually, the artist would join Harvey Kurtzman on the Little Annie Fanny strip, produced for PLAYBOY.

In late 1963, Roy Krenkel asked Frazetta to help him paint covers and provide interior illustrations for Ace’s line of Edgar Rice Burroughs books. Between 1963 and 1965, Frazetta produced twenty-five covers and twenty-two interiors for Ace. Soon thereafter, the first of Frazetta’s Conan paintings appeared: CONAN THE ADVENTURER was released by Lancer Books in 1966. The book’s sales assured the artist’s success. He was soon working for Ballantine Books, Dell, Fawcett, Midwood, Paperback Library, Signet, Warner, and many other paperback publishers.

This period additionally featured Frazetta’s spectacular cover work for Warren Publishing’s CREEPY, EERIE, BLAZING COMBAT, and VAMPIRELLA. The artist also began painting movie posters, beginning with WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?, released by United Artists in 1965. His paintings have also been used as covers for record albums, book jackets, calendars, and more.

On May 10, 2010, Frank Frazetta suffered a stroke and died. His bold and inventive work — the artist stated that he read none of the stories that he illustrated, creating his paintings as he saw fit — will long be lauded by the pulp community and those who appreciate illustrative and commercial art.

(The third edition of Ace Books’ THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT was published in March 1973. Featuring cover art by Frank Frazetta, the painting was originally used as the cover art for the 1964 and 1969 editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR. 

Burroughs novel — the first of three works set on the lost continent of Caprona — takes place during World War I.  From July 26 through July 29, PulpFest 2018 will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended The First World War. We’ll be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” BURROUGHS BULLETIN editor Henry G. Franke, III will discuss THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and other works in “Edgar Rice Burroughs and The Great War.” Additional programming on war in popular culture is also planned for the convention.

You can join PulpFest 2018 and FarmerCon 100 by clicking the Register for 2018 button on the PulpFest home page. And don’t forget to book a room at the DoubleTree while you’re visiting the PulpFest site. They’re going fast!)