Frank Frazetta, RIP

To a generation of geeks who grew up on comic books, science fiction and fantasy novels, there was no more iconic illustrator in the 70s and 80s than Frank Frazetta. His work was violent, sexist and subject to being tossed in the trash by offended mothers everywhere.

Needless to say, it was awesome.

Frank Frazetta passed away at the age of 82 on Monday, May 10.

Growing up in the cultural vacuum of small town northeastern Ohio, there were few things that made the early teen years bearable. One of these was the occasional trip to the comic book store at the local university with my oldest brother Mike. He would come home for the weekend from college and we would hit the book and record stores of Kent State. Many was the Saturday that I returned with a stack of paperbacks, purchased on the strength of the cover illustrations alone. More often than not, these covers were the work of Mr. Frazetta.

Fantasy heroes such as Tarzan, Conan and John Carter of Mars were his typical subjects, always rendered with rippling muscles, bold colors and a scantily clad or completely nude female in tow. When we would return home with the new purchases, the only items subject to greater parental disapproval than the Clash and Ramones albums were the books with the Frazetta covers.

This only served to increase my appreciation for their impact.

Tastes change as we mature, and while I still occasionally listen to old-school punk rock, I'm more inclined toward abstract expressionism in artwork than neoclassicist comic illustration. Regardless, Frazetta was a palpable influence upon a generation of designers and illustrators.