Frank Thorne
Thorne in 2017
BornBenjamin Franklin Thorne
(1930-06-16)June 16, 1930
DiedMarch 7, 2021(2021-03-07) (aged 90)
Area(s)Cartoonist, Writer
Notable works
Red Sonja
AwardsNational Cartoonists Society award, 1963
Inkpot Award, 1978
Playboy editorial Award

Benjamin Franklin Thorne (June 16, 1930 – March 7, 2021[1][2]) was an American comic book artist-writer, best known for the Marvel Comics character Red Sonja.


Thorne began his comics career in 1948, penciling romance comics for Standard Comics. After graduation, he drew the Perry Mason newspaper strip for King Features, which was followed by more comic book work for Dell Comics. He turned out a multitude of stories for Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, The Green Hornet, Tom Corbett Space Cadet, Tomahawk, Mighty Samson, Enemy Ace and numerous others. Thorne drew the syndicated comic strip Dr. Guy Bennett / Dr. Duncan from 1956 to 1963 for LaFave Newspaper Features.[3]

Originally drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith for Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja was transposed from a minor Robert E. Howard 16th-century gunslinger character ("Red Sonya") to a mainstay of the sword and sorcery Conan canon by Roy Thomas. After the character was spun off into a solo feature, Thorne succeeded penciler Dick Giordano in drawing her for Marvel Feature #2 (Jan. 1976), continuing through most of her 1977-79 solo series, Red Sonja.

Thorne subsequently created a number of erotic fantasy comics and characters, alongside other works. His works include creating, writing and drawing the features "Moonshine McJugs" for Playboy, "Lann" in Heavy Metal, and "Danger Rangerette" in National Lampoon, and the 1989 miniseries Ribit! for (Comico), as well as the Fantagraphics Books graphic novels Ghita of Alizarr, The Iron Devil, The Devil’s Angel, and The Illustrated History of Union County.

Publishing company Hermes Press has reprinted Lann, Ribit! and Ghita of Alizarr; the latter being reprinted as an archival, nearly full-sized reproduction of the original art.


Prosecutors in the Planet Comics and Science Fiction Store obscenity case in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995–1996 confiscated Thorne's The Devil's Angel, among other creators' works, as alleged child pornography.[4][5]

Other media

Thorne wrote and produced the documentary Two Lords and a Lady, about Elizabeth Lee “Aunt Betty” Frazee and The Battle of the Short Hills.[citation needed] He wrote the books The Barrington Hall Sketchbook, Drawing Sexy Women, The Crystal Ballroom, and The Alizarrian Trilogy: Nymph, all published by Fantagraphics Books., also Frank Thorne's Battling Beauties (with Howard Leroy Davis as co-writer and which includes Sylph from The Alizarrian Trilogy), Frank Thorne's Ribit, Frank Thornre's Lann, all published by Hermes Press. His work as a writer-illustrator has appeared in Playboy, Hustler, Golden Magazine, High Times, and Vanity Fair.


Thorne's awards include a 1963 National Cartoonists Society award in the Comic Book Division,[6] the 1978 San Diego Inkpot Award, the Playboy editorial award for best comic for Moonshine McJugs, Warren Magazine's Best Comic for Ghita of Alizarr, NJ Art Director’s Club.

Personal life

Thorne was known during the 1970s for attending comic book conventions in his persona as The Wizard judging Red Sonja Lookalike Contests.[7] He was born in Rahway, New Jersey, and as of 2010 lived in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[8]

Thorne wanted to be known as a master in all aspects of cartooning and illustration. This lifetime pursuit was completed with his humorous Moonshine McJuggs cartoons published in Playboy. He acknowledged that he could not have done all that he had done without the support of Marilyn, his wife of sixty-nine years. Despite the controversial nature of some of his material her support was unwavering. This enabled Thorne to work in every area of cartooning and illustration from Sunday School pamphlets to pornography.[11]

He and Marilyn died on the same day: March 7, 2021.[9][10]


  1. ^ Frank Thorne at the Lambiek Comiclopedia
  2. ^ "Frank Thorne – RIP". March 8, 2021.
  3. ^ Thorne entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.
  4. ^ "Newswatch: Planet Comics Prepares for Hearing, Police Raid Retailer's Home". The Comics Journal. No. 183. Fantagraphics. February 1996. pp. 15–16.
  5. ^ Ronan, John F. (February 1996). "Newswatch: Planet Comics Closes, Case Continues". The Comics Journal. No. 184. Fantagraphics. pp. 7–10.
  6. ^ "Division Awards Comic Books". National Cartoonists Society. 2013. Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  7. ^ Thompson, Steven (June 16, 2009). "Frank Thorne, Wendy Pini and Me". Booksteve's Library. Archived from the original on October 25, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  8. ^ "Union County Historical Society to present a book discussion featuring Illustrator Frank Thorne". "Suburban News". January 11, 2010. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2011. Frank Thorne was born in Rahway in 1930 and currently resides in Scotch Plains.
  9. ^ "Frank Thorne, Legendary Red Sonja Artist, Dies at 90". CBR. March 8, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  10. ^ "Marvel Comics Artist and Longtime Scotch Plains Resident Frank Thorne Dies at Age 90; Best Known for Red Sonja Character".

11 ^ Part of Howard Leroy Davis interviews for Frank Thorne's Battling Beauties. Hermes Press.