Frank Frazetta, an illustrator of comic books, movie posters and paperback book covers whose visions of musclebound men fighting with swords and axes to defend scantily dressed women helped define fantasy heroes like Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, died on Monday in Fort Myers, Fla. He was 82. . . .
His most prominent work, however, was on the cover of book jackets, where his signature images were of strikingly fierce, hard-bodied heroes and bosomy, callipygian damsels in distress. In 1966, his cover of “Conan the Adventurer,” a collection of four fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp, depicted a brawny long-haired warrior standing in repose on top of a pile of skeletons and other detritus, his sword thrust downward into the mound, an apparently naked young woman lying at his feet, hugging his ankle.
The cover created a new look for fantasy adventure novels and established Mr. Frazetta as an artist who could sell books. He illustrated many more Conan books (including “Conan the Conqueror,” “Conan the Usurper” and “Conan the Avenger”) and works by Edgar Rice Burroughs (including “John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars” and “Tarzan and the Antmen”).
The Times obituary used this painting as an example of Mr Frazetta’s work, the cover of Conan the Adventurer, in the twelve volume Lancer/Ace paperback editions of Conan, edited by L Sprague deCamp. I read and reread those books until they just plain fell apart, and, just a couple of years ago, I found a place where I could buy the set again, and got ‘em.
My favorite cover was from volume two, Conan of Cimmeria, and you can see the cover if you follow the link, but I couldn’t find a higher resolution picture of it. The cover art depicts a scene from the short story, “The Frost Giant’s Daughter,” though whether it’s the initial battle scene between Conan, who was traveling with a group od Aesir warriors, fighting the Vanir, or the two brothers of Atali, the daughter of Ymir, is uncertain.
Frank Frazetta had a marvelous talent, and could make the most fantastic scenes seem both realistic and other-worldly at the same time.
Wonder how Conan gets out of that predicament?