I was sad to hear of artist Chris Achilleos’ passing yesterday at the age of 74. Chris was a renowned science fiction and fantasy artist, but most famous for his Doctor Who novelisation covers of the “Target” books in the 1970s. Chris’ distinctive cover art inspired a generation, perfectly encapsulating the stories, the essence of the show and the era.
My personal favourite is Planet of the Daleks. I first saw it in the junior school library when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I’d never seen a Dalek on the cover of a book before, and it blew me away. Not only was this a way into a story I had never seen (and at that time, there was no way of re-watching older stories), but studying that cover taught me how to draw Daleks and also taught me about creative composition and framing a piece. After seeing that artwork, even at the young age I was, I thought about drawing differently.
Until then, I had no idea there were Doctor Who books in the school library(!)… others followed! Chris’ covers were a way into the stories you hadn’t seen, and in the age before BBC Video releases were a regular thing, they were your only way of discovering past stories. They were also fantastic pieces of artwork in their own right.
Chris’ work continued to inspire me in my own science fiction artwork, decades later. Generations of fans felt a closeness to his work, because of everything those Target books meant to them as young fans, again growing up in the age before video or DVD releases and long before the internet. His absence will leave a dark hole in the worlds of fandom and SF&F art. Still working and as good as ever, it had been a pleasure to follow Chris online in recent years. He will be missed.