by Jerry Wright
IN MEMORIAM--Frank Kelly Freas 1922-2005
Another icon of American SF is gone. Frank Kelly Freas, considered to be one of the best SF Artists ever passed away right at the beginning of the new year, 2005. Freas was recognized as one of the most prolific and popular Science Fiction artist worldwide, he illustrated stories by some of Science Fiction's greatest writers: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. Van Vogt, Poul Anderson, and Frederik Pohl, as well as up and coming stars like Rajnar Vajra. Freas was nominated for the Hugo Award an unprecedented twenty times, and he was the first to receive ten Hugo Awards for achievement in the field as Best Professional Artist.
He was active in the Science Fiction field for many years, starting in 1950. In the course of his remarkable career, his endeavors covered many areas including MAD Magazine covers from 1955 to 1962. According to "usually reliable sources" William M. Gaines, the publisher of MAD, saw his book cover for Martians Go Home and knew he needed this artist for a series of Alfred E. Newman covers. He was also an official NASA mission artist. His space posters hang in the Smithsonian. He was commissioned by the Skylab I astronauts to design their crew patch.
You can find his art on record and CD albums (for example, his cover for Queen's first two million sale: News of the World, or on the cover of DC Comics' 1992 STAR TREK ANNUAL. He painted beautiful women on the noses of World War II bombers, as well as portraits of five hundred saints for the Franciscans. He had also been commissioned to create biomedical art. He was an author as well as an illustrator. He wrote The Astounding Fifties, Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction, and A Separate Star, as well as a number of magazine articles, several for Analog. He resided in the Los Angeles area until his death at the age of 83.
He will be missed.