I didn't know that Ken Kelly was Frank Frazetta's nephew until I started researching his work in earnest a couple of years ago. I was watching or listening to an interview with Kelly and he told a story about how he sought advice about a career in fantasy illustration from his successful uncle. Frazetta told him that he, Kelly, needed to do his own thing. Frank was basically telling his nephew not to copy his style. Kelly's work, while certainly under the same mantle of fantasy illustration is indeed distinct and very much his own. While Frazetta's work is like that of Zeus, Kelly's is that of Dionysius. Kelly's paintings are an indulgence of excess. All men a muscled, tanned, well-oiled, and capable. The women are tanned, taught, lithe, soft, and seductive. It's no wonder his work is the perfect pairing for hair metal bands of the 80s, notably Manowar. It's not redundant to say the paring is too perfect. There's an underlying feel of amateurism across Kelly's images. I mean this in no way to be an insult. Just the opposite in fact. I prefer intensely sincere amateurism to pompous, facile mastery. It's a feeling I hope to achieve in my own work. I'd rather sit at a table and study an art book of Kelly's work than most any other similar fantasy illustrator, his uncle included.

All artwork by Ken Kelly

Benjamin Marra is the creator, writer, and artist of the comics NIGHT BUSINESS, AMERICAN BLOOD, and TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), all published by Fantagraphics. Acclaimed writer Grant Morrison chose Marra as a collaborator on the first issue of the relaunched HEAVY METAL Magazine. Marra had two serialized webcomic series appear on adultswim.com. His most recent book is JESUSFREAK, written by Joe Casey and published by Image Comics. In 2016, he was named one of the Art Directors Club's Young Guns. He illustrated the cover of American Illustration 35. In 2017, he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his album art of Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmare, a collection of obscure 1970s post-Age-of-Aquarius Heavy Metal.