Frazetta-LlarnOne of the biggest influences in my life—especially when it comes to my imagination and my writing—is the great Frank Frazetta. Widely considered as the greatest fantasy artist of the 20th Century, his paintings for books and magazines in the 60s and 70s sold millions of copies and inspired generations of artists who came after him. To my mind, he is the single greatest painter of the 20th Century, and his work is pure distilled imagination given physical substance.

Around 1979, when I was about 10 years old, my grandmother bought me a copy of THE FANTASTIC ART OF FRANK FRAZETTA Book 1, the first of a 3-book series collecting the best of Frank’s paintings from the previous two or three decades. I remember staring at each of these paintings for what seemed like hours—going back to the book again and again. Later in life I acquired massive hardcover Frazetta artbooks, containing even more of his amazing paintings and lush pen/ink drawings.


(Click to see super-large image)

As a lifelong Frazetta fan, I thought I had seen ALL of Frank’s published paintings. Yet while surfing the web the other day I happened upon a bonafide Frazetta image that I had never seen before. It was like finding a precious diamond lying on my doorstep.

The 1964 science-fantasy novel WARRIOR OF LLARN by Gardner F. Fox featured a Frazetta painting on its first edition cover—yet for some reason this painting was never reproduced in any of Frank’s art books or tribute volumes (at least as far as I know). Thankfully someone scanned a large version of this antique book’s gorgeous cover and posted it online.

Discovering a “lost” Frazetta painting was the thrill of my weekend, so I wanted to share it here. Instead of analyzing Frank’s inventive work on this little-known image, or talking about his stunning use of color, his dynamic sense of frozen movement, I will instead let the painting speak for itself.

I haven’t read the novel, and I’m more familiar with Fox’s legendary comic book writing than with his prose, but this image that Frank dreamed up for the cover inspires me nevertheless. Like most of Frank’s paintings, there are a hundred different stories that could be told based on this one image.

Frank Frazetta passed away in 2010 but his legend and his legacy reamain to thrill and inspire new generations. Like all truly great art, it is timeless, ageless, and speaks directly to the soul. This “lost” cover painting is a great example of these transcendent qualities.