Fantasy painter and illustrator Frank Frazetta died this week, at age 82. As with many famous personages who pass on, I didn’t know him but my imagination owes him a great debt.
I first encountered his work as a teenager when I checked Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novels out from my local library. The tales fascinated me with their hot-blooded adventurism, unnerving, surreal dreamscapes, and high-flown sexuality. And Frazetta’s illustrations held me captivated, with their intense athletic energy and lurid visions of a sensuality I could almost feel and smell. There was a taste of the forbidden about them, a lusty frankness that seemed at once both indulgently naughty and beautifully pure.
There are many other artifacts of my adolescence that held a similar place in my developing, frankly hormonal imagination. But I’ve since grown to regard them with boredom or even disgust—Xanth novels, Image Comics artists, and Baywatch all invoke nothing but shame or contempt. What was it about Frazetta’s drawings and paintings that transcends mere immature wish-fulfillment wankery? Continue reading Pulsing with life: remembering Frazetta