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Achilleos, Chris

Entry updated 13 December 2021. Tagged: Artist.

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(1947-2021) Working name of British artist Christos Achilléos, born in Famagusta, Cyprus; he moved to Britain at the age of twelve after his father died. After graduating from the Hornsey College of Art in 1969, Achilleos began receiving assignments to do book covers for British publishers; his covers for reprints of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Pellucidar novels were very unremarkable, but he displayed more creativity in works like his 1972 cover for an edition of Curt Siodmak's Donovan's Brain (September-November 1942 Black Mask; 1943), showing a pair of dark eyes suspended in apparent globs of brain tissue. He was then occupied with the task of painting covers for numerous Doctor Who novels, which he executed with about as much panache as such work permitted. In 1974 he began the series of erotic paintings for Paul Raymond's girlie magazine Mayfair that brought him worldwide recognition. Owing to this work and the publication of his first collection, Beauty and the Beast (graph coll 1978), Achilleos became widely associated with erotically charged images of undressed females – one provocative example in the book, originally employed as the cover of Saul Dunn's The Black Moon (1978), showed a naked woman straddling a phallic, blasting Ray Gun which was also the arm of a Cyborg warrior – and Achilleos did little to diminish this reputation with works like his cover for M John Harrison's A Storm of Wings (1980), showing a winged insect about to copulate with an undressed woman of similar dimensions.

In the 1980s, Achilleos moved into new areas by doing some game-related Fantasy art, design work for the films Heavy Metal (1980) (see Heavy Metal) and Willow (1986), and posters for films including Blade Runner (1982) and Supergirl (1984). He also augmented his ongoing Doctor Who assignments by agreeing to paint covers for republications of works in another venerable franchise, James Blish's Star Trek adaptations, with less memorable results. Still, the publication of two new compilations, Sirens (graph coll 1986) and Medusa (graph coll 1988), served to enhance his visibility as an artist specializing in Heroic Fantasy. Since 1990, while he continued to create occasional book covers, he mostly devoted his energies to producing fantasy trading cards and selling his prints and original art. His Doctor Who work is assembled as Kklak!: The Doctor Who Art of Chris Achilleos (graph coll 2021). [GW/DRL]

Christos Achilléos

born Famagusta, Cyprus: 1947

died UK: 6 December 2021

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