"Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit." Elbert Hubbard

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Frank Frazetta, farewell

Another person whose work was an influence during my youth has passed away. His obituary from the New York Times this past Monday.

I clearly remember discovering my first book by Robert E. Howard in a used bookstore in my neighborhood while still in grammar school. That book is pictured above. I had already seen Frazetta's work on the covers of horror magazines such as EERIE, CREEPY, and VAMPIRELLA but this sent me over the edge into the world of heroic fantasy. The tales of sword and sorcery in the Hyborian age of Conan the Barbarian opened up a gateway in my mind to the fantastic. This led me within the year to The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein and then Dungeons & Dragons (the original game, not the nonsense it has since turned into).

I was already into science fiction and horror films, but it was the finding of that particular book in a musty used book store that opened up whole new worlds of imagination to me at an impressionable age. By the time I hit high school, I was devouring books as fast as I could find them back in those days before the internet. It required a sense of adventure and discovery itself to spend my Saturdays finding bookstores and hours of digging through them for the right books. Being new to the literature of the fantastic and bookstores in general, it was all trial and error to find what I sought. But it was wonderful and exciting all the same. I can still picture those haphazardly organised bookstores and remember the motes of dust dancing in the sunlight of their front windows. The smell of homemade shelving and musty paper as I sat in a corner trying to decide on what to buy with the few dollars I had managed to bum from my father or earn doing yardwork.

I look back on those formative years with fond memories. How they truly opened up my love of reading. The chance meetings of others with similar interests, some who I am still friends with today. A rare occurrence as none of the kids in my neighborhood were into these things. They considered me a weirdo because of my interests.

To you Mr. Frazetta. For that one single book cover. For that moment that lit a spark in me. For the lifetime of reading pleasure that it has and will continue to give me. For a sense of wonder and amazement. For the friendships it led me to. I will always be grateful.

I thank you.

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