After hanging in the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg for ten years, the painting used for the cover of Conan the Conqueror is now in the hands of a private collector. All it cost the unnamed buyer was a reported one million dollars.
According to the Fenners over on the Spectrum Fantastic Art website, the previous record for a Frazetta painting sold at auction was two hundred and fifty-one thousand dollars. That sum was paid for the painting used as the cover of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Escape on Venus. Now, just a little over a year later, “Conqueror” has sold for nearly four times that.
The Frazettas have held on to all the paintings Frank created for the Lancer Conans for forty years now. There has been no reason given as to why that particular trade embargo has now been lifted. Exactly why there ever was one in the first place is a little hard to understand when you consider this statement from Frazetta (supposedly a very recent one) in reference to the Lancer Conans:
I didn’t read any of it. It was too opposite of what I do. I told them that. So, I drew him my way. It was really rugged. And it caught on. I didn’t care about what people thought. People who bought the books never complained about it. They probably didn’t read them.
“They probably didn’t read them.” I beg to differ with Mr. Frazetta on that one. This Howard website and all the others constellated about the Net like bloody-hued stars are a testament to the fact that quite a few people did “read them” and have read the fiction of Robert E. Howard for more than eighty years now (even if Frazetta himself has not). “People who bought the books” also bought damned near just as many Conan novels with the Duillo (and later, Boris) covers as they did with the ones bearing Fritz’s signature. It is a stone-cold certainty that the Thongor, Brak and Jongor books that sported Frazetta covers never sold anywhere nearly as well as the Howard Conans. This in spite of the fact that several of those paintings were just as good as, if not better than, some of the Frazetta Conan paintings (in my opinion).
Having been an avid fan of Mr. Frazetta’s work for over thirty years now, I’ve read a lot of his interviews. He likes to contradict himself at times. I’ve read where he has praised Edgar Rice Burroughs and I’ve seen him disparage the man. The same thing with Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane. This appears to be another example of that same syndrome. Frank has suffered several strokes in recent years and I would like to think that has something to do with this newest quip, though several similar statements from Frank date back to the 1970s. To be honest, I’m not very sure why Mr. Fenner chose to publish that quote from Mr. Frazetta.
If you’ve got a copy, Mr. Frazetta, please pull out the Lancer edition of Conan the Conqueror and read it. Nearly pure Robert E. Howard right there. Who knows? You might find that what REH wrote was not “too opposite” from what you used to do.