Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Box Of Paperbacks Book Club: Supplemental

In the Box Of Paperbacks post that went up today I wrote about Wolfshead, a 1968 collection of miscellaneous Robert E. Howard stories. It was packaged, like the paperback collections of his Conan stories, with a cover featuring Frank Frazetta art, in this case a slightly censored version of the painting below (as always, click to enlarge):

One of my readers commented that "The Howard and E.R. Burroughs boom [of the 1960s and '70s] was the result of the Frazetta covers as much as the stories." I don't think he/she is right but they certainly played their part. Frazetta is the definitive adult fantasy artist. And one whose work fills me with profoundly mixed feelings. As I wrote back, "Every bit of good taste and refinement in me wants to resist all those image of musclemen, dripping swords, heavy-breasted women, and scowling animals but I can't. His stuff is amazing." It's all that's leering, and sexist, and simpleminded in fantasy and science fiction but it also accesses the parts of those genres that reach directly to the id. I shouldn't overthink it. If I can like Brahms and The Cramps and I can like Mondrian and Frazetta.

That's not even the point of this post. The point was to spotlight a few weird Frazetta corners I found in researching that Wolfshead post. Namely, a couple of paintings done for L. Ron Hubbard Novels.

This is The Lieutenant from Final Blackout, a Box Of Paperbacks subject I covered (pretty unfavorably) here:

And this is a puny Man-Animal doing battle with an alien in Battlefield Earth. (If the movie looked like this, it would have been much better):

Finally, here's a piece of art from From Dusk Til Dawn I'd never seen before, with Salma Hayek in full Vampirella mode and Frazetta renderings of Tarantino, George Clooney, and Juliette Lewis:

Again, that's much better than the movie I remember. Maybe, if they'd used that as the poster, it would have drawn a bigger audience. Maybe that guy who wanted to credit Burroughs' and Howard's latter-day success to Frazetta was on to something.

1 comment:

Matt Staggs said...

Hey Keith,
You've got a fan here. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how respectful your reviews of Howard's works were, most recently for WOLFSHEAD...and now a blurb on Frazetta? Incredible! It seems like there's a tendency among some reviewers to dismiss Howard out of hand based on his dodgy reputation among academics. It was great to see someone - you - appreciate his work for his own strengths, especially in the context of his life in Crossplains.
Anyway, mainly I'm commenting here to thank you for this, but I also wanted to see if I could get some books to you for review. Could you drop me a line at Don't worry, this isn't my own work or something like that. I can tell you more via email.