Forgotten Sword and Sorcery Artists: Chris Achilleos

Sunday , 13, August 2017 1 Comment

At a used bookstore, you might come across a 1970s U.K. paperback with distinctive art. You might have Melvyn Grant or Bruce Pennington art on the cover. There is a good chance it will be Chris Achilleos.

From his website:

“Christos Achilleos grew up in a rural village near the town of Famagusta in Cyprus; a hot place — perfect for a boy fond of the outdoors. After Chris’s father passed away in the late fifties, his mother moved to London with her four children and Chris began drawing shortly after. When he left school in 1966, he knew he wanted to become a professional artist and attended Hornsey College of Art. There he studied technical illustration and learned about various drawing disciplines, airbrushing and perspective. During his last year at college, Chris became proficient with the airbrush — a skill that proved very useful in his later career as a professional illustrator.

“I am constantly on the move, creatively, I have learned to use all kinds of mediums and materials in my work, from airbrushing with inks and acrylics, to watercolour and gouache, to oils. I have even painted with fabric dyes.”

Achilleos is best known for his unique interpretation of stunning amazons, epic dragons and paintings inspired by ancient civilizations and mythology. His works have adorned hundreds of fantasy book covers in the seventies and eighties, including novels by Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Moorcock. He is also well known for the popular graphic style Dr Who illustrations he produced for the original Target Books Dr Who novelisations.

Achilleos worked as a conceptual/costume artist for the adult animation cult movie Heavy Metal and is best known for his famous painting of the heroine Taarna commissioned for the movie poster in 1980. Other movies include the American fantasy film Willow, the historical dramas King Arthur and The Last Legion.

Achilleos got his start in 1970 producing covers for three of the Brak books. He followed up with U.K. editions of Talbot Mundy’s Tros series. He did the covers for Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar series.

The Robert E. Howard boom of the mid to late 1970s brought Achilleos painting the covers for some of the Panther paperbacks.

He illustrated some Gor covers.

 

 

 

 

Achilleos did all the covers for the Raven series. This was a five-book series written by Angus Wells and Robert Holdstock. Both co-wrote the first book. I forget who wrote what book. It is an enjoyable mid-level sword and sorcery series. Achilleos’ image of Raven was enough that New Wave singer Kate Bush dressed up at Raven in the “Babooshka” video.

Coronet printed Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane books in paperback. Achilleos gave a distinctive look from the U.S. paperbacks with Frank Frazetta covers.

He did some Michael Moorcock covers. Among his most interesting work from the mid-1980s were covers for Leigh Brackett’s Skaith series.

As a book cover artist, Chris Achilleo faded out I the mid 1990s. He appears to be busy if his website is any indication. There have been four collections of his art: Beauty and the Beast, Amazons, Sirens, Medusa, and Amazona. There were also some trading card sets in the early 1990s (remember those?).

 

 

Chris Achilleos art generally has an action scene and colorful. Anatomy is good. Some of you might recognize the art without knowing the artist.

 

One Comment
  • deuce says:

    Some pretty decent covers, but that WORLD OF HEROES is just horrid. Nowadays, he should stick to fantasy girl pinup art.

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