Frank Frazetta, one of the most important and influential artists in the world of fantasy and science fiction, has died at the age of 82 after a stroke yesterday, as confirmed by Heidi MacDonald of The Beat this morning.

Frazetta's work history was very broad within the world of entertainment and comics; he contributed work to EC Comics, assisted on classic strips like "Li'l Abner" and "Flash Gordon," and even the bawdy Harvey Kurtzman Playboy strip "Little Annie Fanny," and painted numerous movie posters, including one for the film "What's New Pussycat" " after a Ringo Starr illustration in "MAD" magazine caught the eye of a movie studio.

But Frazetta was best known for his oil painting covers, where his depictions of muscular warriors and beautiful women in titles like "Conan" and "Tarzan" were incredibly influential to the fantasy genre. Frazetta's style ultimately came to define much of the visual style in the genre today, inspiring a generation of artists like Boris Vallejo and Arthur Suydam. His influence extended beyond comics, as well, with his scantily-clad women even inspiring the famous Slave Leia bikini costume from "Return of the Jedi."Frazetta's wife and muse, Ellie, passed away last July, and more recently, his work was the subject of an ugly and very public battle between his children, which has since reportedly been resolved. Far more important than the recent family squabbles, however, was the work at the heart of it, and the raw passion and imagination of his art that elevated it from imagery to iconography, and created a legacy is already woven into the work -- and the hearts -- of countless artists today.

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