Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer 6 sets huge new artist record
Fantasy artist Frank Frazetta’s extraordinary Death Dealer 6 (1990) set a new record for his work at auction this week.
The lot realised $12.2m when it crossed the block in Heritage Auctions’ sale of comics and comic art in Chicago.
That’s an astonishing increase on the previous record for Frazetta’s work, set at $1m for a canvas titled At the Earth’s Core back in 2016.
Barry Sandoval, director of comic book art at Heritage, gave an idea of the atmosphere in the room: “As the live session opened, the Frazetta painting had a bid of $600,000, but within moments it had come down to two collectors, bidding by phone, who waged a pitched battle for this very desirable painting.”
So what’s the deal? Why are paintings that were originally produced for the covers of schlocky fantasy journals and hard rock record covers selling for as much as a Rembrandt?
In part it’s down to Frazetta’s unique visual style, which set the tone for fantasy and influenced generations of artists. He’s the reason axes, muscles and leather clad warrior women became associated with the genre. But he’s also an extraordinarily accomplished artist in his own right, every bit the equal of the old masters who so inspired him.
Demand for his work has grown steadily outside the fantasy community since his death in 2010, culminating in this incredible result.
This specimen will have been a particular draw for buyers as it features Frazetta’s iconic armour-clad Death Dealer character, whom he created in the early 1970s.
This menacing, red eyed figure later spawned its own series of comic books (authored by Misfits singer Glenn Danzig). It’s also the unofficial mascot of the US Army’s III Corps. A huge statue of the Death Dealer stands outside the formation’s building in Fort Hood, Texas.
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