My friend Matthew and I just made a special trip out to the Frank Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. It was awesome. After a quick (65-mile) drive from Brooklyn, we arrived on the beautiful 75-acre Frazetta estate, paid our admission, and wandered the one large room, ogling and marveling at the amazing paintings on the walls. I’d seen most of them in print many times, but nothing compares to seeing them in person, actual size. The brush strokes and the physical dimension and texture of the paint on the canvas are lost in most reproductions; did I mention it was awesome?
Frank wasn’t around at the time, but his wife Ellie chatted us up for quite sometime, and regaled us with stories of Frank, his family, his art, and his business:
- Frank taught himself to paint with his left hand after a stroke a couple of years ago (an impressive example is on display at the museum).
- At one point, he wasn’t happy with one of his paintings used for a pulp novel, and his publisher arranged to credit it to his rival, Boris Vallejo, instead.
- He used to regularly paint over his classic paintings, because he was never satisfied with the published versions—not paint them again, mind you, but paint ON TOP OF the original work!
- The US Army asked Frank if they could use his “Death Dealer” character in the insignia of a division, but they thought the name wouldn’t go over very well, so they referred to him as “The Phantom Warrior.”
Although Frazetta is perhaps best known for his definitive vision of Conan the Barbarian, Death Dealer seems to be the character of Frazetta’s most often translated into skin art. Here’s a tattoo version of the painting, “Death Dealer II“, done by Stacy Sharp at Sharp Tattoo in Ronkonkoma, New York.
If you’re not familiar with Frazetta’s masterful, iconic art and illustrations, you’re missing out. Check out the Unofficial Frank Frazetta Gallery for relatively large images of many of Frazetta’s most famous works, including “Cat Girl,” above. Then, visit the Official Frazetta Art Gallery to buy posters of your favorites!
And go visit the museum, already!