Frank Frazetta, 82, the celebrated comic artist and illustrator whose ax-wielding muscular warriors, scantily clad heroines and ferocious beasts of prey graced numerous science fiction and fantasy novels, died May 10 at a hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., after a stroke.
Mr. Frazetta, who started as a pencil-and-ink comic book artist, painted movie posters and rock album covers, but he was perhaps best known for the cover illustrations to the paperback reissues of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian series and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan and Pellucidar series.
Mr. Frazetta’s drawings were credited with renewing the popularity of the character, a mainstay of the 1930s pulp magazine Weird Tales. He helped define the illustration style for the fantasy sub-genre known as “sword and sorcery.”
Describing Mr. Frazetta’s bold, sexually charged style, the author Donald Newlove wrote in 1977, “There’s no love of decay and fetidness — his swamps and jungles are soft green, lush, aswirl and gently vivid, germinal . . . a perfect setting for the erotic.”
Mr. Frazetta was one of the first artists in paperbacks and comics to negotiate the ownership of his artwork — a move that worked out well for him. The cover painting for a 1966 Lancer books edition of “Conan the Conqueror” sold for $1 million in a 2009 auction.
Although he left comics work in the 1960s, his later paintings influenced such artists as Richard Corben of Heavy Metal magazine and anticipated a trend toward painted graphic novels.