It’s been a minute since we’ve done a Fantasy Friday here at Nostalgia King but today I want to dive into another of my favorite artists who captured the fantasy genre perfectly especially on the covers of Marvel Comics, Savage Sword of Conan. Peruvian painter, Boris Vallejo is a name that should be very familiar to most who know the genre and whose work is very recognizable.
Working almost exclusively in the fantasy and erotic genres, his hyper-representational paintings have appeared on the covers of numerous science fiction and fantasy paperbacks and are featured in a series of best-selling glossy calendars. Subjects of his paintings are typically sword and sorcery, gods, monsters, and well-muscled male and female barbarians engaged in battle.
Born in Lima, Peru, he began painting at the age of 13, in 1954, and obtained his first illustration job three years later, in 1957, at the age of 16. He attended the Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes on a five-year scholarship, and was awarded a prize medal. After emigrating to the United States in 1964, at the age of 23, he quickly garnered a fan following from his illustrations of Tarzan, Conan The Barbarian, Doc Savage and various other fantasy characters (often done for paperback fiction works featuring the characters). This led to commissions for movie poster illustration, advertisement illustration, and artwork for various collectibles – including Franklin Mint paraphernalia, trading cards, and sculpture. Along with Julie Bell, Vallejo presents his artwork in an annual calendar and various books. Vallejo’s work is often compared to the work of Frank Frazetta, not only because it is similar stylistically, but also since Frazetta painted covers for paperbacks of some of the same characters.