My Cart


Frazetta's “Famous Funnies"

Posted on

Frazetta's "Famous Funnies"

written by Sara Frazetta


Frank Frazetta illustrated 27 comic book covers, most solo, some collaborative, during the golden age era of comics. The first comic cover he worked on was Tim Holt’s #17 Ghost Rider (Magazine Enterprises, 1950.)  

After creating cover artwork for a series of Ghost Rider,  Bobby Benson’s B-Bar-B Riders and Buster Crabbe comics, Frazetta began working on the covers for Famous Funnies. Famous Funnies was the brainchild of Maxwell C. Gaines. Gaines, a true innovator who essentially created a new business model for comics by offering them through newsstand distribution, published Famous Funnies #1 in May 1934 (Eastern Color Printing.) Famous Funnies became the first comic book to be published monthly. In the early 1950s, Frazetta created eight covers for the Famous Funnies. 

Frazetta’s first cover for Famous Funnies was issue #209, released in December 1953. Soon after this issue was released, Frazetta took a full time job working as a ghost artist for Al Capp’s L’l Abner. Some sources speculate Capp pursued Frazetta because of his incredible work for Famous Funnies issue #209.  Created with ink on bristol board, Frazetta’s cover artwork embodied the 1950s retro style and featured Buck Rogers, and a stunning full-body image of Wilma Deering. 

In an interview with Frazetta from 1995 he stated the following about his work on the Famous Funnies covers:  “I did those covers at a time when I had total mastery; I could draw anything and draw it superbly. Remember that, up to that point, I had been drawing in pen and ink for 10 years professionally. I was drawing every single day. The more you draw, the better it gets. At least, that’s the way it worked with me. I tried to vary my approach on each one of the Famous Funnies covers, different subjects and different rendering techniques. I don’t want to bore the fans by imitating myself and I certainly didn’t want to bore myself.” 

Frazetta’s cover artwork was certainly no bore to anyone. In fact, his covers were considered legendary. The original artwork from issue #213, released in August 1954,  sold for over $100,000 USD at auction in 2002. A true example of greatness, Frazetta’s inspiration for cover #213 was taken from the ever so talented , Wally Wood. “I swiped a rocketship interior scene from Wally Wood,” Frazetta said. “I did it deliberately. Why not? If you are going to swipe a rocketship interior, who better than Wally Wood? I try not to swipe. I prefer to imagine things, but this was a little tribute to Woody. He was very pleased. We used to have fun with one another in those days by doing that kind of thing. Woody really loved my covers.” 

(Famous Funnies #213, original artwork)

These same covers also caught the eye of  Star Wars creator,  George Lucas, who remains a Frazetta fan to this day. Lucas has admitted the influence those covers had during the early development of
Star Wars. Here's how Frazetta recalled one conversation with Lucas: “When George Lucasc came out to visit my estate he told me that my Famous Funnies Covers  had been one of his inspirations for Star Wars, which I thought was a pretty sweet thing to say.” 



Frazetta’s run with Famous Funnies cover artwork ended with issue #216, published March 1955.  “Frazetta’s final covers depicted an Earth- shattering explosion, causing both Buck Rogers and another spaceman to reel from the impact. Most of the fore and background  projectiles are relegated to simple boulder-like shapes. This in turn brings more focus to the masterfully detailed figures. The left-handed figure is thrown off balance while Buck, only slightly maintains his ground. Frazetta literally ended his run with a bang rather than a whimper.” (

(Famous Funnies #216, original artwork)

Aside from his rejected cover, which was intended to be published on Famous Funnies #217, but ended up on Weird Science-Fantasy #29, a topic we will discuss in our next blog post, these covers were the last job Frazetta did in comics. Later, in 1975, Russ Cochran offered a Famous Funnies portfolio which featured Frazetta's eight original drawings, all re-colored by Frazetta. Famous Funnies run ended 21 years later in July of 1955 with issue #218.

(Famous Funnies #214, original artwork)

(Frazetta’s Famous Funnies #215, colored by Frazetta)


  • Bob Brittain: October 09, 2021

    My Great Uncle Jerry Fasano did work for Famous Funnies in the late 40’s and was from Brooklyn. I would love to know if he crossed paths with Frank at any point.

  • Russell Gambino: October 07, 2021

    Love this… excellent material and article. i love the art in the expamples you present here; just great!

  • Eric Muller: October 07, 2021

    Thank you, Sara. These articles are so informative and hint at the behind the scenes experiences your grandfather had that most people don’t know.
    My wife and I loved meeting your grandmother, Ellie, and our visit to the museum a number of years ago.

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing