Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Conan the Adventurer

Last week I was watching a documentary called “Frazetta: Painting with Fire”. The movie is about the artist Frank Frazetta. I can’t tell you what artist made me want to make art, but Frank Frazetta has definitely had the most influence on me since I found out about him. To me, his work is magic, and I am not the only one that thinks so.

As a kid he was great at art. He was on his way to study in Europe before his teacher pasted away and everything fell apart. By 15, Frank started working on comics. His peers said that anything Frank touched became gold. He could have made a living alone on making comics, but he was just getting started in his career. He then worked for Hollywood for a bit making movie posters. After that he began to make covers for adventure books.

His cover for “Conan: the Adventurer” is the artwork that I picked for this week’s post. With this one work he redefined a whole genre of work. The fantasy world would never be the same after Frazetta. Books with his covers became collectables just for the cover. Some give him credit for selling more than most of the artists of the genre.

His version of Conan was much different than previous ones. Frazetta gave his a rough and scarred look compared to a clean muscle man. He gave life to his paintings. I think the composition of this work in particular is great. The pyramid form draws me from the pile of bones up the blood that is wrapping around the sword to this beaten champion that stands victorious starring you down. For the genre of sword and sorcery, this work is the Holy Grail.


  1. Frank Frazetta is definitely a talented painter. I find it fascinating how much artwork he has created, considering how detailed and beautiful each of these pieces are.

  2. He also had to teach himself how to paint with his other hand because of nerve damage (possibly caused by chemicals in cheap turpentine).

    He's also known for "ghosting" the Li'l Abner Sunday comics for Al Capp.

  3. I wrote an extended analysis on this picture and its relation to the Conan stories here:

    Needless to say, I agree that this is quite possibly the iconic Conan image.

  4. I think I've seen this image set up a thousand times by now, with the half naked woman clinging to the manly man's leg on the top of a mountain.

    It works, I'm not saying it doesn't, but I'd love to see a new take on expressing testosterone-driven manliness.