Quite possibly the most well-known artist working in the modern fantasy genre, Frank Frazetta’s largely self-taught style is familiar to generations due to his work on the likes of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Vampirella as well as album covers and paperback novels.
Since his death in 2010, interest and recognition for his astonishing work has grown, with ‘Egyptian Queen’ (which started life as a front cover for Eerie Magazine) selling for 5.5 million dollars a few years ago. Quite a feat for someone who started his career at a time whenever comics were considered throwaway pap.
And yet, despite the obvious talent and imagery on display, Frazetta loved portraying himself as someone who preferred chasing women and playing sports than painting. Maybe it was an attempt to distance himself from the perceived nerdiness of comics (allegedly, he never read any Conan books, despite his take on the character being the most iconic). Who knows? But it certainly makes for a great myth.
First published last year, the purpose of this tome (according to the blurb on the back) is to focus on:
…the artist's single, most beloved venue, Book Cover Art. By focusing on this specific area, the book boasts room enough to feature every single one of Frazetta's famous and highly collectable illustrated book covers, beautifully and authentically reproduced at a larger size on a page to itself. All are presented in chronological order which, gives readers a unique ability to follow Frazetta's evolution as an artist. Accompanying text includes commentary, original publication titles, publishers, dates, and rare quotes from the artist himself. For this Definitive Reference to feature the Complete Collection of Frazetta's decades of book cover illustrations, in a single beautifully produced volume, is a dream come true for Frazetta fans, art and book collectors and historians alike.
This makes a lot of sense as the cheap paperback was how a good lot of people discovered his work on Edgar Rice Burroughs, L. Ron Hubbard and Michael Moorcock novels. Depicting worlds and figures that were superhuman, they often overshadowed the book itself, something he was all too aware of. After all, how can any mere writer compete with this?
Clocking in at nearly 170 pages, this hardback is a perfect introduction to the world of Frazetta. With the imagery in chronological order, commentary and decently sized reproductions, it’s something of a contradiction as virtually all of the paperbacks on display here were meant to be consumed and then thrown away. But it’s beautifully assembled and will make you realise what a genius the man was on the canvas.
J. David Spurlock (Author/Editor), Frank Frazetta (Illustrator), 2022, Frazetta Book Cover Art: The Definitive Reference. Vanguard, ISBN-13: 978-1934331842
🕮 Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist and author of A Vortex Of Securocrats.
Christopher - another journey down a not so beaten path. I appreciate the width you bring to the review section of the blog.ReplyDelete
Sorry for the delay in getting the image out. Usually, I find them myself but for some reason in the rush I overlooked it.