The End of an Era: The Master Fantasy Illustrator Passes

Sad news for Howard fans worldwide. Today Frank is reunited with his beloved Ellie. Legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta had a stroke last evening and passed away this morning.

Frazetta’s iconic Conan covers for the Lancers had much to do with introducing the Cimmerian to a post-Pulp world.  My first Howard book was a dogeared copy of Conan the Conqueror. Some fans didn’t even buy the paperbacks for the content, just plopping down their money for those wonderful action-packed covers. Hopefully, the majority of them eventually read the stories and become forever hooked, just as I did.

Here is a write-up on his death from the New York Times arts blog:

Frank Frazetta, an illustrator who with vivid colors and striking brushstrokes conjured up fantastic worlds of musclebound heroes who fought with broad swords and battle axes to defend helpless women from horrible beasts, has died. He was 82.

The death was caused by a stroke, and confirmed by Rob Pistella and Steve Ferzoco, his business managers. In a telephone interview, Mr. Pistella said that Mr. Frazetta, who had a history of strokes, had returned from a Mother’s Day dinner with his family on Sunday night and complained of feeling ill. Emergency medical services were called and Mr. Frazetta was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., where he died on Monday.

After working on daily comic strips like “Buck Rogers,” “Flash Gordon” and “Li’l Abner,” Mr. Frazetta moved onto comic books in the 1950s. He drew the movie poster for “What’s New Pussycat?” in 1964, and hit his stride executing detailed illustrations of pulp heroes like Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars for their comic magazines and books. His realistic renderings of otherwordly scenarios (and barely clad women) made him the ideal candidate to illustrate the album covers for popular heavy metal albums like Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” and Nazareth’s “Expect No Mercy.”

In November, Wired.com reported, Mr. Frazetta’s cover artwork for the paperback reissue of “Conan the Conqueror” by Robert E. Howard sold to an unnamed collector for $1 million.

An obituary article will follow at nytimes.com.

Also, be sure to check out an excellent and expansive appreciation of Frank’s life, work and impact on popular culture at the LA Times website.