Frank Kelly Freas

Frank Kelly Freas (August 27, 1922 – January 2, 2005) was an American science fiction and fantasy artist with a career spanning more than 50 years. He was known as the "Dean of Science Fiction Artists" and he was the second artist inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.[2][a]

Frank Kelly Freas
Kelly Freas on his 82nd birthday (2004)
Kelly Freas on his 82nd birthday (2004)
BornAugust 27, 1922
Hornell, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 2, 2005 (aged 82)
West Hills, California, U.S.
Resting placeOakwood Memorial Park Cemetery
Pen nameKelly Freas (occasional)
OccupationArtist, illustrator
Periodc. 1950–2004[1]
GenreFantasy, science fiction
Disqualified by Freas
Art by Freas for "Disqualified" by Charles L. Fontenay, If magazine, September 1954.

Early life, education, and personal life

Born in Hornell, New York, Freas (pronounced like "freeze") was the son of two photographers, and was raised in Canada.[3] He was educated at Lafayette High School in Buffalo, where he received training from long-time art teacher Elizabeth Weiffenbach. He entered the United States Army Air Forces right out of high school (Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada). He flew as camera man for reconnaissance in the South Pacific and painted bomber noses during World War II. He then worked for Curtis-Wright for a brief period, then went to study at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and began to work in advertising. His first marriage was in 1948 to Nina Vaccaro,[4] they divorced. He later married Pauline (Polly) Bussard in 1952; they had two children, Jacqui and Jerry. Polly died of cancer in January 1987. In 1988 he married (and is survived by) Dr. Laura Brodian.


Weird Tales November 1950
"The Piper", illustrating Wakefield's "The Third Shadow" for Weird Tales, was Freas's first magazine cover, November 1950

The fantasy magazine Weird Tales published the first cover art by Freas on its November 1950 issue: "The Piper" illustrating "The Third Shadow" by H. Russell Wakefield. His second was a year later in the same magazine, followed by several Planet Stories or Weird Tales covers and interior illustrations for three Gnome Press books in 1952.[1] With his illustrating career underway, he continued to devise unique and imaginative concepts for other fantasy and science fiction magazines of that period. In a field where airbrushing is common practice, paintings by Freas are notable for his use of bold brush strokes, and a study of his work reveals his experimentation with a wide variety of tools and techniques.

Over the next five decades, he created covers for hundreds of books and magazines (and much more interior artwork), notably Astounding Science Fiction, both before and after its title change to Analog, from 1953 to 2003.[1] He started at Mad magazine in February 1957 and by July 1958 was the magazine's new cover artist; he painted most of its covers until October 1962 (featuring the iconic character, Alfred E. Neuman).[3][5] He also created cover illustrations for DAW, Signet, Ballantine Books, Avon, all 58 Laser Books (which are now collectors' items), and over 90 covers for Ace books alone. He was editor and artist for the first ten Starblaze books. He illustrated the cover of Jean Shepherd, Ian Ballantine, and Theodore Sturgeon's literary hoax, I, Libertine (Ballantine Books, 1956). That same year he drew cartoon illustrations for Bernard Shir-Cliff's The Wild Reader.

Astounding Science Fiction cover, October 1953

Freas also painted insignia and posters for Skylab I;[3] pinup girls on bombers while in the United States Army Air Forces; comic book covers; the covers of the GURPS worldbooks Lensman and Planet Krishna; and more than 500 saints' portraits for the Franciscans executed simultaneously with his portraits of Alfred E. Neuman for Mad.[6][7] He was very active in gaming and medical illustration. His cover of Queen's album News of the World (1977) was a pastiche of his October 1953 cover illustration for Tom Godwin's "The Gulf Between" for Astounding Science Fiction magazine.[5][8]

Freas published several collections of his art, frequently gave presentations, and his work appeared in numerous exhibitions. He was among several of the inaugural recipients of the Hugo Award for Best Artist in 1955 and was recipient under different names of the next three conferred in 1956, 1958, and 1959.[9][b] With six more Hugo awards to his name (1970 and 1972–76), he became the first person to receive ten Hugo awards (he was nominated 20 times). No other artist in science fiction has consistently matched his record.

Freas was twice a Guest of Honor at Worldcon, at Chicon IV in 1982 and at Torcon 3 in 2003, although a fall suffered shortly before the latter convention precluded him from attending.[10]

He died in West Hills, California and is buried in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth.


Some of Kelly Freas's awards (2004)

Freas's achievements include the Doctor of Arts, Art Institute of Pittsburgh, December 2003.[7] The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2006, the second artist after Chesley Bonestell.[2][11][a]

  • Hugo Awards (11): Hugo Award for Best Artist 1955–56, 1958–59, 1970, 1972–76; fifty-year Retrospective Hugo, 2001 (for 1950 work)[9]
  • Locus Awards (4), 1972–75, best artist[9]
  • Frank R. Paul Award, 1977
  • Inkpot Award, 1979
  • Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark), 1981[9]
  • Rova Award, 1981
  • Lensman Award, 1982
  • Phoenix Award, 1982
  • Los Angeles Science Fiction Society Service Award, 1983
  • Neographics Award, 1985
  • Daedalos Life Achievement Award, 1987
  • Art Teacher Emeritus Award, 1988
  • Best Professional, Media, International Fantasy Expo, 1989
  • Chesley Awards (3): 1990 with Laura Freas, best 1989 cover illustration; 1994, artistic achievement; 2001, artistic achievement[9]
  • Numerous Science Fiction Art Show Awards
  • National Association of Trade and Technical Schools National Hall of Fame, 1991
  • AnLab (Analog magazine) Reader Polls, Best Cover, 1992 and 2001[9]


  • New Worlds of Fantasy (1967)
  • New Worlds of Fantasy#2 (1970)


  1. ^ a b After inducting 36 fantasy and science fiction writers and editors from 1996 to 2004, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame dropped "fantasy" and made non-literary contributors eligible. Chesley Bonestell inaugurated the "Art" category in 2005.
  2. ^ There was no award for art on the 1957 WorldCon program. Thus in 1955–56 and 1958–59 Freas won the first four unified Hugo Awards for illustration, as the terminology changed from Artist to Outstanding Artist to Professional Artist. The only previous achievement awards at World Science Fiction Conventions recognized Interior and Cover illustration separately in 1953.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Frank Kelly Freas at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved April 9, 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ a b "Presenting the 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees". Archived from the original on April 26, 2006. Retrieved August 19, 2016. Press release March 15, 2006. Science Fiction Museum ( Archived April 26, 2006. Retrieved 2013-04-09.
  3. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (January 5, 2005). "F. K. Freas, Who Drew the Devilish Face of Mad Magazine, Dies at 82". The New York Times.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Vincent, Mal (May 21, 2010). "As the Symphony gets ready to rock, we remember a local artist". The Virginian-Pilot. p. E1.
  6. ^ Martin, Douglas (January 5, 2005). "F. K. Freas, Who Drew the Devilish Face of Mad Magazine, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Holland, Stephen (January 13, 2005). "Obituary: Frank Kelly Freas". The Guardian. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  8. ^ Godwin, Tom (October 1953). "The Gulf Between". Astounding Science Fiction. pp. 8–56.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Freas, Frank Kelly". The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Art Nominees. Locus Publications. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Science Fiction Hall of Fame". The Cohenside. May 15, 2006. Retrieved March 21, 2013.

Further reading

  • Freas, Frank Kelly. Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction. Norfolk, Virginia: Donning, 1977.

Freas, Frank Kelly. "A Separate Star"

Freas, Frank Kelly. "As He Sees It"

External links

Biography and criticism
Bibliography and works
40th World Science Fiction Convention

The 40th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Chicon IV, was held September 2–6, 1982, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, United States.

The chairmen were Ross Pavlac and Larry Propp; Larry Smith and Bob Hillis were vice-chairmen. The guests of honor were A. Bertram Chandler (pro), Frank Kelly Freas (pro), and Lee Hoffman (fan). The toastmaster was Marta Randall. Total attendance was 4,275. Other notable attendees included Muppets creator Jim Henson and actor Jeff Pomerantz.

Children of the Atom

Children of the Atom is a 1953 science fiction novel by American writer Wilmar H. Shiras, which has been listed as one of "The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002." The book is a collection and expansion of three earlier stories, the most famous of which is the novella "In Hiding" from 1948, which appeared on several "Best SF" lists. The book's plot focuses on superhuman children with immeasurably high intelligence who have to hide their youth, and work from hiding in order to get along in the less-intelligent world.

City (novel)

City is a 1952 science fiction fix-up novel by American writer Clifford D. Simak. The original version consists of eight linked short stories, all originally published between 1944 and 1951, along with brief "notes" on each of the stories. These notes were specially written for the book, and serve as a bridging story of their own. The book was reprinted as ACE #D-283 in 1958, cover illustration by Ed Valigursky.

Simak published a ninth City tale in 1973 called "Epilog". A 1980 edition of City includes this ninth tale; some (but not all) subsequent editions of the book also include "Epilog".

Crazy Magazine

Crazy Magazine is an illustrated satire and humor magazine that was published by Marvel Comics from 1973 to 1983 for a total of 94 regular issues (and two Super Specials (Summer 1975, 1980)). It was preceded by two standard-format comic books titled Crazy. The magazine's format followed in the tradition of Mad, Sick, Cracked and National Lampoon.

Many comic book artists and writers contributed to the effort in the early years. These included Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Vaughn Bodé, Frank Kelly Freas, Harvey Kurtzman, Mike Ploog, Basil Wolverton, Marie Severin, Mike Carlin, editor Marv Wolfman and executive editor Roy Thomas. Mainstream writers like Harlan Ellison and Art Buchwald also contributed. Lee Marrs supplied a few pictures. In addition to drawn art, Crazy experimented with fumetti.


Dickson! is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer Gordon R. Dickson. It was first published by NESFA Press in 1984 and was issued in honor of Dickson's appearance as guest of honor at the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines SFWA Bulletin, Astounding, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Science Fiction Stories. The book contains introduction to each story by Sandra Miesel.

Edward E. Smith Memorial Award

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, or "Skylark", annually recognizes someone for lifetime contributions to science fiction, "both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late "Doc" Smith well-loved by those who knew him." It is presented by the New England Science Fiction Association at its annual convention, Boskone, to someone chosen by a vote of NESFA members. The trophy is a large lens mounted on a simple plinth.The award was inaugurated in 1966, the year after Smith's death. Fifty-one people have been honored in 49 years to 2015 (Hal Clement received the award twice, in 1969 and 1997).

Skylark recipients

Elizabeth Weiffenbach

Elizabeth Weiffenbach (1881–1954) was an art teacher at Lafayette High School in Buffalo, New York, from the school's opening in 1903 until her retirement in 1952. During that period, she influenced artists and architects who went on to local, national, and international renown. They include:

Bruce Shanks (class of 1927), Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist;

Gordon Bunshaft (class of 1928), noted twentieth-century architect;

Frank Kelly Freas (class of 1938), famed science-fiction cover artist;

Jeremiah Goodman (class of 1939), known simply as "Jeremiah", painter of interior still lifes of famous residences; and

Ted Lewin (class of 1953), artist, author and illustrator of children's books.

Five Science Fiction Novels

Five Science Fiction Novels is a 1952 anthology of five science fiction novellas edited by Martin Greenberg. The stories originally appeared in the magazines Unknown and Astounding SF.

Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist

The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially known as the Science Fiction Achievement Award. The award has been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing". The Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist is given each year for artists of works related to science fiction or fantasy released in the previous calendar year.The Professional Artist award has been given annually under several names since 1955, with the exception of 1957. The inaugural 1953 Hugo awards recognized "Best Interior Illustrator" and "Best Cover Artist" categories, awarded to Virgil Finlay and a tie between Hannes Bok and Ed Emshwiller, respectively. The Best Professional Artist award was simply named "Best Artist" in 1955 and 1956, was not awarded in 1957, and was named "Outstanding Artist" in 1958, finally changing to its current name the following year. Beginning in 1996 Retrospective Hugo Awards, or "Retro Hugos", have been available to be awarded for years 50, 75, or 100 years prior in which no awards were given. To date, Retro Hugo awards have been awarded for 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, and 1954, and in each case an award for professional artist was given.Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, and the presentation evening constitutes its central event. The selection process is defined in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution as instant-runoff voting with six nominees, except in the case of a tie. The works on the ballot are the six most-nominated by members that year, with no limit on the number of works that can be nominated. The awards in 1955 and 1958 did not include any recognition of runner-up artists, but since 1959 all six candidates have been recorded. Initial nominations are made by members in January through March, while voting on the ballot of six nominations is performed roughly in April through July, subject to change depending on when that year's Worldcon is held. Prior to 2017, the final ballot was five works; it was changed that year to six, with each initial nominator limited to five nominations. Worldcons are generally held near Labor Day, and in a different city around the world each year.During the 69 nomination years, 79 artists have been nominated; 23 of these have won, including co-winners and Retro Hugos. Michael Whelan has received the most awards, with 13 wins out of 24 nominations. Frank Kelly Freas has 11 wins and 28 nominations, the most nominations of any artist. Other artists with large numbers of wins or nominations include Bob Eggleton with 8 wins out of 23 nominations, Virgil Finlay with 4 out of 13, Ed Emshwiller with 4 out of 9, and Don Maitz with 2 out of 17. David A. Cherry and Thomas Canty are tied for the most nominations without an award at 10 each.

I, Libertine

I, Libertine was a literary hoax novel that began as a practical joke by late-night radio raconteur Jean Shepherd.

Judgment Night (collection)

Judgment Night is a 1952 collection of science fiction short stories by American writer C. L. Moore. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1952 in an edition of 4,000 copies. The collection contains the stories that Moore selected as the best of her longer work. The stories all originally appeared in the magazine Astounding SF.

Laser Books

Laser Books was a line of 58 paperback science fiction (SF) novels published from 1975 to 1977 by Canadian romance powerhouse Harlequin Books. Laser published three titles per month, available by subscription as well as in stores. The books were limited to 50,000-60,000 words. They were numbered as a series, though each was a standalone novel. All the covers were painted by Hugo Award winning artist Kelly Freas.

The Dream Master

The Dream Master (1966), originally published as a novella titled He Who Shapes, is a science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny. Zelazny's originally intended title for it was The Ides of Octember. The novella won a Nebula Award in 1966.

The Fall of the Towers

The Fall of the Towers is a trilogy of science fantasy books by American writer Samuel R. Delany.

First published in omnibus form in 1970, the trilogy was originally published individually as Captives of the Flame (1963, rewritten as Out of the Dead City in 1968), The Towers of Toron (1964), and City of a Thousand Suns (1965). The first two books were somewhat rewritten for the omnibus edition. Delany describes the extent of the rewriting in a final note in the one-volume text.

The stories of the Fall of the Towers trilogy were originally set in the same post-holocaust Earth as Delany's earlier The Jewels of Aptor; however, linking references were removed in later revised editions.

The Hand of Zei

The Hand of Zei is a science fiction novel by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, the second book of his Viagens Interplanetarias series and its subseries of stories set on the fictional planet Krishna. The book has a convoluted publication history.

It was first published in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction as a four-part serial in the issues for October, 1950-January 1951. The text was redivided into two parts for its first publication in book form by Avalon Books, appearing as the separate volumes The Search for Zei (1962) and The Hand of Zei (1963). To facilitate the new division, de Camp wrote a new ending for the first and a new beginning for the second to briefly recapitulate the portion of the story already told. The two parts were then reissued together in paperback by Ace Books in 1963, back to back and inverted in relationship to each other, as an "Ace Double". The Ace versions were slightly abridged by the author. The first half of the novel was published in the UK by Compact Books as The Floating Continent in 1966. A restored text bringing both segments back together was finally published by Owlswick Press in 1981. A new paperback edition utilizing this text was issued by Ace Books in August 1982 as part of the standard edition of the Krishna novels, and was reprinted in March 1983. A later paperback edition was issued by Baen Books in March 1990. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form. The novel has been translated into Dutch, French, German and Czech.As with all of the "Krishna" novels, the title of The Hand of Zei has a "Z" in it, a practice de Camp claimed to have devised to keep track of them. Short stories in the series do not follow the practice, nor do Viagens Interplanetarias works not set on Krishna.

The Star-Crowned Kings

The Star-Crowned Kings is a science fiction novel written in 1975 by Rob Chilson. This was the 2nd full novel written by Robert Chilson.

The Winds of Darkover

The Winds of Darkover is a science fantasy novel by American writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, part of her Darkover series. It was first published by Ace Books in 1970, as an Ace Double bound tête-bêche with The Anything Tree by John Rackham.This is the first Darkover novel to include references to the Sharra Matrix. In terms of the Darkover timeline, Bradley states in "Author's Notes on Chronology" that The Winds of Darkover occurs about four years after the events in Star of Danger.One the underlying themes of The Winds of Darkover is rape. Bradley provides her readers with parallel experiences – the rape of Allira Storn by the bandit Brynat, and the psychic rape of Dan Barron by Loran Storn. Both Allira and Dan are overcome by force and their bodies made to do things they would not have done by choice. In both cases, the perpetrators justify their actions on the basis of need – Brynat needs to marry Allira to legitimize his sack of Storn, and Loran Storn needs to protect Storn Castle. The reader is left to consider the consequences.

The World Wreckers

The World Wreckers is a science fantasy novel by American writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, part of her Darkover series. First published by Ace Books in 1971, it features a complex sub-plot involving the sexual interactions between hermaphrodite native species, known as the chieri, and humans.

The book contains pivotal events in the part of the series that Zimmer Bradley identified as "After the Comyn/Against the Terrans". Every book that follows chronologically, refers to The World Wreckers.

In "Author's Notes on Chronology", Bradley implies that The World Wreckers occurs about eighty years after the events in The Winds of Darkover, basing this assertion on the age of Desideria Storn in the two books.

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