Up until her senior year in High School, the closest Jane had ever gotten to what people call fantasy or science fiction literature were stories by Poe, books like Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, and My First 2000 Years (Viereck and Eldridge), part of a “short list” of books whose claim to fame were that they had been “banned” from most libraries of the day. Then one day her best friend talked her into a blind date with a college sophomore (they’ve been married now for 47 years) and her reading list underwent a drastic revision. Howard was an electrical engineering major, brought up on a diet of Science Wonder and Weird Tales pulps, who had already amassed a noteworthy collection of SF books. He decided to augment her high school “50 books you need to read before you start college” list (which she had already read) with one of his own, backed up by a carton of books from his shelves, with strict injunctions against any “dog ears.”
Ten years and three kids later she was tripping over boxes of books, writing letters to Frank Utpatel, c/o Arkham House, attending Lunacons in NY, and driving to Providence, Rhode Island for the first World Fantasy Convention, 1975.
Over the years their collection of original F/SF art and literature grew to be regarded as one of the best. Two Paper Tiger books documented only about 40% of their art collection: The Frank Collection: A Showcase of the World’s Finest Fantastic Art (1999), and Great Fantasy Art Themes from the Frank Collection (2003). The collection has been filmed for TV documentaries, and items from the collection have been loaned to museums and shown in local, regional, and traveling exhibitions. Among the more notable of them: an inaugural art exhibit for Paul Allen’s Experience Science Fiction Museum, Seattle Washington (June 2004 – July 2005), followed by “Alien Contact” (Sept 2006 – Nov. 2007), two major co-curated exhibits at the University of Maryland art gallery: “Fantastic Visions” (2004) and “Possible Futures” (2000). Their most recent loans were to the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania, for the “At the Edge” exhibition, billed as “the most comprehensive and largest exhibition of fantastic art to date in the United States.”
By 1991, convinced that it was important for major SF/F illustrators to gain access to audiences outside the insular world of genre conventions Jane decided to officially take on the role of matchmaker. She established “Worlds of Wonder,” to represent the best in contemporary artists, and their original art – the kind of images readers loved to see on the covers of books and magazines and calendars and game manuals.
By the mid 1990s Jane was writing forewords and publishing articles on individual artists and collecting topics, for publications such as Science Fiction Age, Realms of Fantasy, Quantum Collector, Collector’s Advantage. She wrote the illustrated biography The Art of Richard Powers (Paper Tiger Press, Hugo Nominee, 2001), and The Art of John Berkey (Paper Tiger, 2003). This was followed by Paint or Pixel? The Digital Divide in Illustration Art (Nonstop, 2007), that made the Locus Recommended Reading List for Best Non-Fiction/Art Books, 2008. In 2012, McFarland published her Role-Playing Game and Collectible Card Game Artists: A Biographical Dictionary, the first such devoted solely to role-playing game and collector card game artists. Through the years Jane has also written a semi-regular column under the banner The Artful Collector – most recently for the e-zine Estronomicon and she has published a couple of short short stories there, as well.
Jane had also become quite active as a public speaker and program participant at SF/F conventions. In addition to contributing to panel discussions and leading docent tours of art shows, she was Agent Guest of Honor at Chicon 7 (SF Worldcon, Chicago 2012) – to our knowledge the first such guest of honor at any convention of this kind. Jane has also been Guest Speaker at The Maryland Library Association Annual Conference and has been a Guest Speaker at the Science Fiction Information Forum, hosted by the Library of Congress Professional Association.
In case you’re wondering if Jane has ever “lived” beyond the world of SF, you may be interested to learn that from 1988-2008 she taught part-time primarily in Communications and Marketing, for American University and the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland and has consulted on sales and marketing issues for small businesses.
In addition to three children, the Franks have four grandchildren and three step-children, Rocky, Cutie Pie, and the newest family member, Reggie (all Chinese Crested hairless dogs). Someday Jane would love to take up a hobby, like painting. In the meantime, she will blog.