Forgotten Sword and Sorcery Artists: Gino D’Achille

Sunday , 2, July 2017 2 Comments

I mentioned Gino D’Achille (1935-2017) last week in comparison to Enrich Torres. Not a Spaniard but an Italian from Rome.

From his webpage:

“Gino D’Achille was born in Rome in 1935 and displayed a precocious talent as an artist from a very young age – being invited at 11 years old to present a portrait he’d made of Pope Pius XII to the pontiff himself. From 13 he studied at Rome’s Liceo Artistico, going on to the University of Architecture at 19. By now, he was already drawn to the world of commercial art, producing advertising illustrations for the prestigious agency Studio Favalli in his spare time. This led him to pursue a full-time career in Milan, where he gained the attention of British scouts, and in 1964 Gino was persuaded to move to London. Here, he immediately established his credentials with his illustrations for David Kossof’s popular Bible Stories, commissioned by WM Collins.”

His first U.S. paperback appears to be for August Derleth as “H. P. Lovecraft” The Lurker of the Threshold for Beagle Books (1970). He produced covers for John “Norman’s” Assassin of Gor (Ballantine, 1970) and Raiders of Gor (Ballantine, 1971).

I remember the cover to Assassin of Gor attracted me to the book. A guy with Greek hoplite helmet riding a giant hawk. That was cool!

Ballantine Books retired the Bob Abbett cover for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series in 1973 and replaced them with Gino D’Achille. The covers have great airships but the faces are horrible.

Donald Wollheim made D’Achille one of his house artists for D.A.W. Books. D’Achille produced covers for many of the Gor books in the late 1970s.

D’Achille produced very Frazettaesque covers for Tanith Lee’s Vazkor series.

Ace Books used D’Achille for covers of some Andre Norton books. He actually made the books look more interesting than they actually were.

He continued to produce covers for science fiction paperbacks through the 1980s in a style different from the faux-Frazetta used in the 1970s as sword and sorcery was driven from mass market publishing by the newer editors.

His last great sword and sorcery cover was for the sublime anthology, The Barbarian Swordsmen (Star Books, 1981). This is fine art compared to the photo-shopped covers of today.

He liked his women with pasta fed bodies with a few extra pounds on them. His male anatomy was good. He had a tendency to make his swordsmen very well bronzed as if they were always under the Italian sun. Gino D’Achille was a competent Frazetta imitator in the second half of the 1970s.

He died just a few months ago so hopefully he is now discussing art with Frank Frazetta, Jeff Jones, and Gray Morrow in that other place.

2 Comments
  • Steve Dilks says:

    I could look at the woman on the cover of Tanith Lee’s THE STORM LORD all day. His flying bathtub’s on the Barsoom covers are what I wanted to see in the JOHN CARTER movie.

  • Kenny Cross says:

    Ah those classic Tanith Lee Daw covers are amazing. Great stuff. Great artist.

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