I learned earlier this week that Frank Thorne and his wife Marilyn had both recently passed away. Marilyn was my father’s cousin, so, when I was a kid, I would occasionally see Frank and Marilyn at family gatherings. As a comics fan, I always loved getting a chance to talk to Frank. He was kind, and funny, and just a good guy. I remember talking to him briefly about Jack Kirby’s Silver Star, not long after it was published, so that would have been 1983 or 1984. I really didn’t get much of a chance back then to talk to other people about comics, and especially not adults. I hadn’t been to any conventions yet, back then. (And the internet wasn’t really a thing yet, of course.) It was just a great thrill to be able to talk to a real comics artist.
I also have a very clear memory of picking up Savage Sword of Conan #29, which contained an article titled “The Wizard and Red Sonja Show,” about a convention appearance by Frank, dressed as his Wizard character, and several women dressed as Red Sonja, including Wendy Pini! This kind of thing is fairly common now, but back in 1978, it was kind of odd. There’s a write-up on Wendy Pini’s part in all of this here. (Nowadays, it seems like almost half the people who show up at cons are cosplaying. And it’s not at all unusual to see a few Red Sonjas wandering around.)
The last time I communicated with Frank at all was maybe 15 years ago, when he sent me a few signed posters and I sent him a thank you note. I should have tried to keep in contact with him, but, well, I didn’t. (Time slips away from you as you get older.)
I’m just going to share some links here, for anyone who wants to read more about Mr. Thorne:
- CBR’s obituary is the first one I saw.
- Here’s an article from a local site. The Thornes had lived in Scotch Plains for a long time.
- The Daily Cartoonist has an article highlighting some of his early comic strip work.
- Heavy Metal has an article showcasing a wide variety of his work (including a bunch of the NSFW stuff).
- Mark Evanier has a short obituary.
- 13th Dimension has a nice little gallery of some of his Red Sonja covers.
I just recently bought a copy of the new Complete Ghita of Alizarr hardcover. I’m a little embarrassed to read this kind of stuff nowadays, but it’s all in good fun. And I also still have my copy of the Illustrated History of Union County, which I bought 15 years ago, and still somehow haven’t read. I should probably pick up reprints of some of his Red Sonja work. I guess Dynamite still has the rights to Red Sonja, and keeps the old Marvel stuff in print. (Here it is on Comixology.)