Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Art of Who (Part 1) : Chris Achilleos

Growing up with the Target novelisations of the original ´classic´ Who meant that one artist was synonymous with early Doctor Who stories - the one and only Chris Achilleos. Highly styilized, and yet increadibly accurate, often with a pointilist style black and white portrait of the Doctor, Chris´s covers jumped off book shelves and were almost as exciting as reading the books themselves.

Between 1973 and 1977 Chris illustrated the covers of 28 of the first Target books, some of which included back cover illustrations, and a few also included black and white illustrations inside the books as well. Some of these covers were replaced on later reprints and editions (criminally in my view - no disrespect to the subsequent artists).

He also illustrated covers for some special non-fiction books, most noteably the ´Doctor Who Book of Monsters´ and ´The Amazing World of Doctor Who´, both of which feature great colour portraits of Tom Baker with an assortment of monster enemies. The latter title was an annual-style title produced as part of a 1976 TyPhoo Tea promotion, and special boxes also featured his art - now highly sought after by crazed collectors of all things Who. I certainly wish I had an example (I´ll stick up some pics when I get the chance).

You can see all of Chris´s covers, including some special limited editions (for example a 20th Anniversary Five Doctors commorative print and other one-off paintings), on his website. Chris is now a well established fantasy artist, having published several solo books and becoming rather well known for his fantasy female figures. And very nice they are too.

Sadly, some of Chris´s original works where apparently stolen some years back, including Day of the Daleks, the Tenth Planet and The Cybermen. As a result Chris can´t offer prints of these images for sale, which is a great shame not only for him, but also us.

I´ve copied the main illustration on this post from his site, and I sincerely hope he doesn´t mind (I´m writing to him to request his permission for its use in this context, but acknowledge his copyright in the meantime). What I didn´t realize until I first browsed his site is that Chris sells high quality prints of his work. He has even done new commissions, including a special ´Tomb of the Cybermen´ cover and a couple of New Series prints.

Sometime back in the 1980´s (I think - I´ll update this when I get more time!) a portfolio of six of his covers was released, of which I am a proud owner, and I did manage to pick up a signed print of his tribute to the New Series with a 9th Doctor and Rose illustration, complete with Autons and Dalek.

If you can´t afford to get yourself a print from Chris yourself (but it must surely be worth saving up the pennies), or if you´re not loaded enough to commission your own personal painting, then it´s well worth hunting down early editions of these books just for the covers. They can still be found secondhand at reasonable prices, and must surely be a good investment. Check out ebay or (a secondhand book site which donates to The Woodland Trust).

Doctor Who and the Daleks (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Crusaders (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Zarbi (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon (Cover and interior illustrations)
Doctor Who and the Dæmons (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Sea Devils (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Cybermen (Cover)
Doctor Who - The Three Doctors (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors (Cover)
Doctor Who - Revenge of the Cybermen (Cover)
Doctor Who - Genesis of the Daleks (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Web of Fear (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Space War (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Pyramids of mars (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Carnival of Monsters (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos (Cover)
Doctor Who and the Ark in Space (Cover)


The Making of Doctor Who (Cover, Target Books edition)
The Doctor Who Monster Book (Cover)
The Second Doctor Who Monster Book (Cover)
The Amazing World of Doctor Who (Cover)
The Target Book (Cover)

Thanks Chris, your work is a great addition to the world of Who, and an inspiration to aspiring artists.

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