When I was very young, my Dad would sometimes take me to work with him. He worked for the advertising firm Campbell and Ewald (you may have heard of them in the news recently, they lost the Chevrolet account) as a graphic artist. Going to work with my Dad was an awesome experience. He had every single color imaginable in magic markers and colored pencils. It was my first exposure to a Xerox machine and I would spend all day making dozens of copies of my drawings and sitting in some corner of his office coloring all day long.
In his office my Dad had some choice art framed on the walls. He had a print from Erte of the alphabet, and he had two works from artist Frank Frazetta. It was my first exposure to the man’s art and both were very dark and almost disturbing. One was of a demonic centaur-type creature with a nude woman riding on his back (for a kid in single digit years this was probably my first exposure to a nude woman. If you are wondering how Dad could get away with hanging such a thing on his office wall, well, all I can say is the seventies was a very different time).
The second print was The Death Dealer, a menacing figure whose face was hidden in the dark depths of his helm, eyes glowing a demonic red, sitting astride a war horse, his huge axe dripping gore. This, to me, was awesome stuff. Of course it was far, far cooler than the nude chick.
A couple years later I found my Dad’s collection of Conan paperbacks, and on them were the works of Mister Frazetta. I have Frank Frazetta (and my Dad) to thank for my first forays into fantasy literature. While kids these days first cut their teeth on Harry Potter and his adventures reciting bad Latin, I was reading the tales of a brooding Cimmerian as he cut a bloody swath across the page.
I am not exaggerating when I say when Frank Frazetta died part of my childhood died with him.
Thank you, Mister Frazetta, for haunting my imagination with your dark imagery, and for your in part inspiring me to enter the realms of Robert E. Howard. You are much appreciated and you will be missed.
If you wish to see some of Frazetta's work, head over to this link.