Facial Hair Friday, Week 36

14 May

This week’s Facial Hair Friday is a painful one for me.  It is also slightly breaking the rules.  But in light of recent events, I think a slight bending of qualifications is permissible.  That’s all just a confusing way of saying that I’ve gotten around the fact that the person I really want to talk about doesn’t have any facial hair, through the fact that he painted lots of pictures of people with facial hair.

Some of you, hopefully most of you, may know that Frank Frazetta died on Monday of a stroke.  This was very painful for me.  I’ve grown up on a steady diet of both Frank Frazetta art and the stories that art was depicting.  His impact on fantasy in general, not to mention fantasy cinema, is unparalleled.

Frank Frazetta

For those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about, don’t ever mention that you didn’t know who Frank Frazetta was to me.  I will always hate you.  But, I will also enlighten you right now, so you can at least act like you always knew.

I first saw a piece of Frazetta’s genius when I was very young.  My dad read all eleven of the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs to me.  Most of these books had covers painted by Frank Frazetta.  Most of them featured men with swords fighting side by side with outrageous monsters, while defending scantily clad women from even more outrageous monsters.  It was everything that fascinated me as a young boy.  I was just as intrigued by the images Frazetta gave me as I was by the stories they illustrated.

Conan the Barbarian

Years later, I started to realize that this man was an extremely prolific artist and he had actually done more than the covers to the Mars books.  If you have ever seen a painting of Conan the Barbarian, chances are pretty good that Frazetta painted it.  And if he didn’t, he influenced it.  The film Conan the Barbarian is like one long tribute to way Frazetta made things looks.  But even that doesn’t get there.  Nothing can quite touch the feeling his paintings give you.

In 1983, Frazetta teamed up with one of my favorite directors, Ralph Bakshi.  Bakshi wanted to do a movie that was completely designed by Frank Frazetta.  This incredible collaboration gave us Fire and Ice, one of my favorite animated films.

Frank Frazetta has probably done more to fuel my imagination over the years than most other things combined.  And really, I think this could be true on a much wider scale.  Frazetta has directly influenced almost everything that has anything to do with fantasy today.  And I might even argue imagination in general.  He has become immortalized through his direct influence on all of our imaginations, whether we realize it or not.

Really, I don’t know what to say.  I don’t feel like anything I say could do this man, or his legacy, justice.  I feel like a complete failure as a writer trying to pay tribute to this man.  So let me just say this:  Frank Frazetta changed the way my imagination works.  And that changed who I am.

Fire and Ice, 1983

incredibly regretful I didn’t make the trip to the Frazetta museum last year,

david

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