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Look Here: Five random covers, with art by Frank Frazetta

I don’t have a lot of paperbacks with cover art by Frank Frazetta, but here are a few I do have…

Rogue Roman is an early cover painting by Frazetta that someone out there might enjoy seeing in its original format. The painting sans text appears in the Frazetta art book, Icon (Grass Valley, CA: Underwood Books, 1998), page 126. Looks a lot different there, too: the overall tone is much, much warmer. But I can’t decide if Rogue Roman is one of those pieces that was altered at a later date by Frazetta or not. And since there’s no mention of alterations in the discussion that accompanies the painting in Icon, it might just be a case of inaccurate reproduction on the paperback. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Of course, most Frazetta fans know that what makes the artist’s Moon Maid cover more than just a visually arresting illustration is that the original painting was substantially altered (though not, IMHO, improved) by Frazetta when he got it back from the publisher; which is to say, the painting as you see it here no longer exists.

The male model for The Mucker could easily have been Frazetta himself.

And finally, the central figure in Frazetta’s Tanar of Pellucidar was clearly swiped by Arthur Suydam for the painting that appears on the cover of his The Art of the Barbarian (Special Edition): Conan, Tarzan, Death Dealer. Look it up and you’ll see!

Keywords: Rogue Roman, The Book of Paradox, The Moon Maid, The Mucker, Tanar of Pellucidar.

4 thoughts on “Look Here: Five random covers, with art by Frank Frazetta

  1. Frazetta was astonishingly talented, but I do notice one faint weakness in some of his paintings: though individual figures are admirably rendered (and photo referenced, but that’s another discussion), he often has trouble with getting their relative sizes correct in regards to perspective. The women in THE BOOK OF PARADOX cover are too large compared to the male in the foreground. Put some tracing paper on it, find the ground plane where his feet are, then go to the vanishing point; account for the females being at a higher elevation and nonetheless, they’re too big in relation to him (IF they’re supposed to be a bit shorter than he). Same problem in ROGUE ROMAN: the woman standing by the seated figure is a giantess; I don’t think that was Frazetta’s intention. One of the most evident with this problem is a Tarzan cover painting where the female in the foreground is tiny, and Tarzan, leaping behind a lion near a campfire, is gigantic. Each figure alone is terrific, and the composition is solid, but the relative sizes are way off in that one.


  2. Here’s the Frazetta painting where Tarzan is much too large for a figure that distant from the foreground:

    “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar”

    and another with relative figure size problems:

    “Conan the Buccaneer”

    Conan’s head is too big for his body, and his body is too large compared to his enemies—unless he’s fighting with muscular children! Frazetta wisely repainted the figure in a different pose and in proper scale in the “Conan the Destroyer” painting (recently sold, sadly) which is one of the classics of his oeuvre.


  3. Funny, I knew which Tarzan painting you were referring to the minute I read your description and criticism of it, because I personally consider it one of Frazetta’s worst: the composition is incredibly awkward, the anatomy of the lion’s body, excluding (maybe) the head, is amorphous and unconvincing, the lion’s left side looks like it has sunk into the ground, the paint handling in the background would not look out of place on black velvet, and the colour palette in general is much too raw for my taste. Regarding the perspective problem, maybe if Frazetta had not carelessly painted the lion’s tail over Tarzan’s left hand, one might be able to argue that Tarzan’s position in space is sort of ambiguous, but as it stands, I have to agree, the “Lord of the Jungle” does appear to be significantly, and unintentionally, larger than life.


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