The Los Angeles Times is reporting that fantasy artist Frank Frazetta passed away in a Florida hospital this morning, after suffering a stroke on Sunday; he was 82. For decades, Frazetta set the standard for fantasy illustrations, especially for the sword-and-sorcery sub-genre: his book covers and other artwork defined some literary characters, like Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, almost as much as the the writings of the authors who created them.
Frazetta’s signature style (loincloth-clad men with rippling muscles and curvaceous women with bulging breasts) was immediately recognizable and hugely influential. Reading Howard’s Conan stories, one might or might not imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role; after Frazetta’s illustrations, Schwarzenegger’s casting in CONAN THE BARBARIAN was almost inevitable.
Although his artwork inspired many cinematic visions of sword-wielding heroes facing off against menacing wizards and monsters, Frazetta himself worked directly on only one film: FIRE AND ICE (1983), which Frazetta produced with director Ralph Bakshi, was an interesting if not entirely successful attempt to bring Frazetta’s work to the screen via rotoscope animation.