Monday, May 10, 2010

What you love at age 16...

What you love at age 16, you love forever.

The paintings of Frank Frazetta rank up there with J.R.R. Tolkien and the Beatles in their power to evoke powerful feelings of nostalgia for me. I still think he's the best fantasy artist ever. It doesn't hurt they are connected in my mind with Robert E. Howard's Conan books.

After searching for something to replace Lord of the Rings and finding only kid's books and a few science fiction authors who wrote fantasy-like, I was primed for Conan.

It's one of those moments I can still remember 40 years later. I was at a debate tournament at OSU, and walking through the coffee shop, and looking over at the book spin rack and focusing with laser vision on the cover of Conan the Conqueror. I actually got excited -- like it was Christmas.

Imagine that you had a taste of a dish that absolutely transported you, but when you went to get more everyone told you it didn't exist. That's how modern fantasy was for me. That long drought (for a kid) between LOTRs and Conan just primed the pump.

I bought all the Lancer editions of the Conan books, with the Frazetta covers and gobbled up the stories. Then went on to Elric and Fafred/Gray Mouser and every other Gonad the Spermizoid character I could find.

When I finally finished my own first book, STAR AXE, it was labeled sword and sorcery and had a Frazetta like cover, and I didn't object even though I felt my story was more heroic fantasy, because I loved thud and blunder as much. (Loved it enough to be able to make fun of it at the same time....)

Sadly, I think Frazzetta's license was badly mishandled. There should be nice clean 20.00 editions of the old Ballantine collections. There should be posters on every dormitory wall. Much like the Elfquest license and the Mobius art and stories, I think there is a starved up demand for a nice chunk of appropriately priced material. Instead, we get too little or too much, too expensive or too late.

If I was a billionaire, I'd buy up these licenses and others, and become the American Taschin, if you will, or the American Paper Tiger. That would be a cool way to be a billionaire.

The Deathdealers' been dealt aces and eights, and that's a shame.

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