Frank Frazetta's original cover painting for the Lancer paperback edition of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Conqueror sold this week to a private collector for a reported $1,000,000! Thats a lot of freakin money! Before this one sold the highest price paid for a Frazetta painting was $251,000, for the cover to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Escape on Venus in 2008.
Up until the sale, the painting had been on display at the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, as Frazetta had retained all of his covers for the Conan books except for one that was stolen from the publisher's office when it went bankrupt.
A Note from Spectrum Fantasitic Art:
There has always been something of a mystique surrounding Frazetta's Conan covers; partly because they were the "first" successful Conan paperbacks and the first exposure to the character for the Baby Boomer generation of readers; partly because Frank got the assignment at the time when his painting skills had improved significantly and he felt he had something to prove; partly because the Frazettas had kept all of the Conan covers for the last 40-odd years (except for Conan of Aquilonia, which was stolen from Lancer's office when the publisher went bankrupt). Burroughs and Vampirella paintings came and went, but Frank and Ellie wouldn't even entertain offers from interested buyers for the Conans.
The covers only rarely followed Howard's descriptions or story situations and when asked if he had ever read the books Frank recently replied, "I didn¹t 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 didn¹t read them."
A little Frazetta swagger decades after the fact, but he was genuinely excited by the opportunity at the time (and relied on friend Roy Krenkel to feed him descriptions and plot summaries) and it shows in the resulting covers – with Conan the Conqueror perhaps the penultimate painting in the canon.