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Remembering Frank Frazetta

A self-portrait by Frank Frazetta

A self-portrait by Frank Frazetta

A roundup of remembrances, tributes and obituaries for legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, who passed away Monday at age 82:

Timothy Bradstreet: “It’s very difficult to articulate how much Frazetta influenced me. That influence does not seem readily apparent in my work after all. Sure, I tried my hand at drawing just like Frazetta just like everyone else did. A lot of great artists have tried and have fallen short. Frazetta’s influence with me goes deeper — our hearts are connected, style and process are simply a means to an end. I read Frazetta’s own words speaking to what goes through his mind when he creates, and that confirms for me that we share a common connection. He may have painted with fire, but the coals are stoked somewhere much more deep down in the soul.”

Guillermo del Toro: “He gave the world a new pantheon of heroes. He took the mantle from J. Allen St. John and Joseph Clement Coll and added blood, sweat and sexual power to their legacy. … He somehow created a second narrative layer for every book he ever illustrated.”

Tom Richmond: “Frazetta’s fantasy illustrations were so charged with mood, savagery and movement they literally seethed and smoldered from the cover of these books. As beautifully rendered as the other cover illustrations of Boris Vallejo were, there was always something elemental and primal that put Frazetta’s work on a level all its own.”

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Legendary artist Frank Frazetta passes away

Frank Frazetta in his Florida studio

Frank Frazetta in his Florida studio

Renowned fantasy and comic-book artist Frank Frazetta passed away today as the result of a stroke. He was 82.

Heidi MacDonald has confirmation from his agent Robert Pistella that Frazetta died in a hospital near his home in Boca Grande, Florida.

Born on February 9, 1928, in Brooklyn, Frazetta began illustrating comic books at age 16, later working on titles like Barnyard Comics, Thrilling Comics and Happy Comics for Standard Publishing Co. By the early 1950s, he was drawing the Shining Knight stories for DC’s Adventure Comics, New Heroic Comics for Eastern Color and Durango Kid for Magazine Enterprises. In 1953, he started working as an assistant for Al Capp on Li’l Abner.

Frazetta left Capp in 1961 and started illustrating for men’s magazines, eventually teaming with Harvey Kurtzman on the bawdy “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy. It was during this period that Frazetta began painting movie posters, and covers for paperback editions of action-adventure and Warren magazines like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Frazetta’s work from the mid-1960s to the early ’70s became the primary influence for science fiction and fantasy art for decades.

Frazetta’s work and legacy were at the center of a bitter family feud that seemed to erupt in July 2009 after the death of his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who had long run her husband’s business. The dispute played out in public, with criminal charges, a lawsuit and angry allegations. Luckily, though, the family seemed to resolve its differences just last month.

Frazetta is survived by four children: Alfonso Frank Frazetta (Frank Jr.), William Frazetta, Holly Frazetta and Heidi Grabin.

Lawsuit and theft charges dropped as Frazetta family settles differences

Frank Frazetta in his Florida studio

Frank Frazetta in his Florida studio

The family of famed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has settled a bitter, and very public, feud that was marked by criminal charges and a lawsuit.

According to a statement posted online early this morning by publisher Vanguard Productions, all litigation involving Frazetta’s children and art “has been resolved.” The Pocono Record reports the agreement comes after the family — including Frazetta, sons Alfonso Frank Frazetta (Frank Jr.) and William Frazetta and daughters Holly Frazetta and Heidi Grabin — met with their attorneys and a federal mediator for two days to resolve the legal battle before trial.

Theft charges will be dropped against Frank Jr., who was arrested in December after he allegedly used a backhoe to break into his father’s museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to steal 90 paintings worth about $20 million. Frank Jr. claimed his father told him “to enter the museum by any means necessary to move all the paintings to a storage facility” to protect them from other family members — something 82-year-old Frank Sr. denies.

The lawsuit filed last month against Frank Jr. also will be dropped. His three siblings, who manage Frazetta Properties, accused Frank Jr. of violating their father’s trademarks and copyrights by selling lithographs, books, clothing and other items, and misrepresenting himself as the “authorized representative” of Frank Sr.

The dispute over Frazetta’s artwork reportedly began in July 2009 after the death of his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who ran her husband’s business for years.

According to the online statement, “Frank, his four children and his management team are thrilled to put any past differences behind them and look forward to working together as a family to preserve and promote the art and legacy of one of America’s greatest artists.”

The release also reaffirms that Frazetta’s art and intellectual property are owned by Frazetta Properties, and that Robert Pistella and Stephen Ferzoco continue as “the exclusive representatives” for sales, licensing and marketing.

“All of Frank’s children will now be working together as a team to promote his remarkable collection of images that has inspired people for decades. Frank wishes to thank all of his fans around the world for their loyal and enthusiastic support since the passing of his beloved wife of over 50 years, Ellie Frazetta.”

Frank Frazetta speaks out about family fight, allegations

Frank Frazetta Sr. (1994 photo)

Frank Frazetta Sr. (1994 photo)

Legendary fantasy and comic artist Frank Frazetta has spoken publicly for the first time about the bitter family feud that came to light in December with a break-in at the Frank Frazetta Museum.

The artist’s son, Alfonso Frank Frazetta, known as Frank Frazetta Jr., is charged with burglary, criminal trespass and theft after he allegedly used a backhoe to break into his father’s museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to steal 90 paintings worth about $20 million. Frazetta Jr. claimed he had been instructed by his father “to enter the museum by any means necessary to move all the paintings to a storage facility” to protect them from other family members.

In an interview this week with the Pocono Record, the 82-year-old Frazetta Sr. said he never told his son anything of the sort: “No, absolutely not. I don’t know what the hell he was doing.”

“My son is an alien,” he told the newspaper from his home in Boca Grande, Florida. “There’s no telling what he’ll do. He’s been like that for, I don’t know, how many years. We played baseball in the old days. He always chose the opposite side from me.”

As we reported last week, Frazetta Jr. has been sued by Frazetta Properties — now managed by siblings Heidi Grabin, Holly Frazetta Taylor and William Frazetta — in an attempt to prevent him from selling or reproducing his father’s artwork and claiming to be his authorized representative. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for trademark and copyright infringement, counterfeiting, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and false designation of origin.

Frazetta Art Gallery, the website operated by Frank Jr. that sold lithographs, books, clothing and other merchandise based on his father’s artwork, was taken offline shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

In the interview with the Record, Frazetta Sr. dismissed allegations made by Frank Jr., Frank Jr.’s wife Lori Frazetta and others that he’s being held in Florida against his will and controlled by his other three children.

“I’m in my own home,” he said. “I’m the only one who lives here. Yes, absolutely I’m under my own free will. My daughters don’t tell me what to do. I’m a man of my own word.”

The Record also reports that supporters of Frazetta Jr. will hold a candlelight vigil tonight outside of his home “to save Frank Frazetta Sr. and his artwork.”

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