Frank Frazetta was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1928.
As early as age three he was drawing and at eight he is
reported to have been selling his work! He later went to
the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1944, at the tender age of 16, his first professional
comic work appeared in Tally Ho comics, under his
mentor John Giunta. This job would lead to others and for
several years he illustrated funny animals for text stories
in Coo Coo and Happy comics.
He illustrated eight "Shining Knight" stories
at DC which are highly acclaimed and also did stories for
"Heroic Comics", including a one page anti drug
story which was used repeatedly for several years.
During this time he met and befriended Al Williamson and
Roy Krenkel, two of comics' greatest talents. Each was inspired
and influenced by the other, but Al and Frank were taught
much by Roy and would later profess a great profit from
Frank worked for numerous companies including Standard,
Lev Gleason, and at Toby with Al Williamson, and later at
M.E. where he drew "White Indian" and his own
creation "Thun'da" .
Thun'da, actually a derivation of Edgar Rice Burrough's
"Tarzan" was a great achievement by any standards
and Frank's talent glowed like a supernova with this effort.
During this time he also worked for Bill Gaines at EC Comics,
and it is here that he did a number of classic stories and
covers, almost entirely in collaboration with Williamson
and Krenkel. One effort entitled "50 Girls 50"
is hailed as one of the greatest stories of all time, and
another story, "Squeeze Play" is a fabulous "Shock
He contributed to the Buck Rogers mythos by illustrating
seven covers for the Famous Funnies comic in the early fifties.
Among these seven covers are some of the most respected
comic book covers ever created. Kinetic, visceral works;
these pieces jump off the books and drill into your gut
with their emotional and angry action scenes.
In 1952, Frank created his famous comic strip "Johnny
Comet", later "Ace McCoy". Lasting for one
and one half years, it was a finely drawn and brilliantly
conceived strip about a race car driver; his girl, the gorgeous
Jean and his friends, Mom and Pop Bottle. Unfortunately
the scripting by Peter DePaolo was not on a par with the
art and after an initial period of success, the strip was
dropped in 1953.
Also in 1952 he went to work for Al Capp assisting on the
"Lil Abner" strip. Staying with Capp until about
1960 or so, Frank quit after Capp informed him that his
salary would be cut - after Frank had re-located to be closer
to Capp's studio!
After leaving Abner he toiled for paperback publishers
doing interior illustrations (these books are highly sought
after and command high prices), and then wound up at Warren
Publications where a number of the EC artists had gathered
to work on Creepy, Eerie, Blazing Combat
Frank's assignments where mostly cover paintings and these
works are some of the most memorable pieces of the baby
"Egyption Princess" (Eerie #23), "Sorcerer"
(Eerie #2), "Wolfman" (Creepy #5),
"Sea Monster" (Eerie #3) and scores of
others, each is a masterpiece. While at Warren he also drew
a "Creepy's Loathsome Lore" page and another famous
story (possibly his best comic story ever) "Werewolf",
the story of a crazed "wolf-hunter" who is himself
the hunted. These five pages are a momentous achievement
for the comic medium.
He was commissioned by Canaveral Press and Doubleday Books
to do illustrations for E.R.Burroughs stories which naturally
included the Tarzan and Mars series' and he also did a number
of ERB covers and interiors for the entire spectrum of Burroughs
stories for Ace Books. Some are great, others are less so.
He admittedly did three covers in one weekend to meet a
deadline after putting the assignment aside for almost three
months. Two of these are rather dull Frazetta compositions,
but one of them - "Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar"
is an outstanding work of art.
The fierce Tarzan leaping in mid-air, about to land on
the back of the attacking lion; juxtaposed with the frozen
beauty of the woman in mortal danger is electric. The forest
trees in the back are living creatures as well, and you
can hear the crackle of the campfire burning in the background.
Frazetta's incarnation of "Conan the Barbarian"
for Lancer Books paperback series are also revered. His
painting for the cover of the first book in that series
aptly titled "Conan the Barbarian" is most likely
Frank's greatest single achievement.
Frank has been variously been referred to as having influenced
the mythology of Conan, or having revitalized popular interest
in the character.
In later years Frank has worked in films, most notably
on "Fire and Ice", and he has done a series of
paintings for the "Scientologists".
The recent return of the "Death Dealer" under
the pen of author Jim Silke has given us the opportunity
to feast on more of Frank's work and he continues to paint
for other companies, and occasionally does commissions for
A very prolific artist, Frank has been one of the most
influential and therefore one of the most important artists
of the twentieth century, Frank is certain to have carved
his niche in the history of American Art.