Sometimes people come along who can change the way we all view things. Frank Frazetta never changed anyone’s view, he created it. Being a huge Robert E. Howard fan I truly believe that Conan the Barbarian was as much a product of Howard’s writing as it was of Frank Frazetta’s artwork. If you watch the old Conan movie with Arnold, they literally tried to put Frazetta’s vision on that screen.
Not only can we thank Frank for the image of Conan in our collective consciousness, we can also thank his influence on Games Workshop’s Chaos Warriors. Look at pictures of the Death Dealer, then look at Chaos Warriors, then think about how amazingly cool it all is. Sure there is High Fantasy, we can thank Tolkien for that. Elves and heroes and hobbits are all fighting against the dark forces of the world. Then there is Dark Fantasy, at least that is what I call it.
Dark Fantasy is not as black and white as High Fantasy. Dark Fantasy’s heroes are not “good guys.” The anti-hero concept has always been fascinating and dark fantasy stories that were written have always been enhanced with artwork from Frazetta. I do read both genres very much and have to be honest that I am sad no one has made a dark fantasy MMO. Sure, Conan fits that bill easily enough. Yet no one has created an original IP around a dark world with barbarians, savages, demons, and beasts. I guess you could say that Diablo is that world in many ways. There is another game Frank had an influence on.
Yesterday, Frank Frazetta passed away at age 82. Who would have thought that a kid from New York City who wanted to play for the Yankees would give us a collective work that created the visual concept of dark fantasy? If you have a chance, if you have time, I highly recommend two things. One is the movie Fire & Ice
While a bit dated by today’s standards, this movie was put together by Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bashki. It is still damn cool, with characters that mirror Elric and Conan. Another movie is called Painting with Fire
. It can be found here.
It tells Frazetta’s story and shows where his art came from.
So thanks to Frank we have Conan and Diablo, and endless music, inspired artists, comics, games, movies (heck I have heard George Lucas owns several original Frazetta paintings), and most of all we have images that stay with us for the rest of our lives.