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D'Achille, Gino

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1935-2017) British artist, born in Rome, Italy. At the age of thirteen, he began his artistic training at Rome's Liceo Artistico and later attended the city's University of Architecture, explaining his later attentiveness to strange buildings and vehicles as well as undressed human figures and exotic animals in his book covers. Never a specialist in sf art, D'Achille moved to London in 1964 and initially worked mostly in animation, a field he returned to in the 1980s to design characters for two television specials based on the works of David MacAulay. He also attracted attention with his illustrations for an edition of David Kossoff's Bible Stories (coll 1968). In the early 1970s, he began painting sf book covers for Ballantine Books, including some covers for books in John Norman's Gor series; one especially impressive effort, for Assassin of Gor (1970), depicted an armoured man riding on an enormous bird.

Yet D'Achille achieved his greatest fame for the singular covers he painted for Ballantine's 1973 republications of the eleven volumes of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars series. Not only did his muscular heroes, nubile women, and bizarre Martian creatures compare favorably with those of predecessors like Roy G Krenkel and Frank Frazetta, but he also brought dynamic conviction to his renderings of Martian technology, as in his breathtaking image of a perilous swordfight on board a soaring Airship for The Gods of Mars (January-May 1913 All-Story; 1918). And no one has ever painted a banth to match his version of the animal on the cover of Thuvia, Maid of Mars (8 April-22 April 1916 All-Story Weekly; 1920). Appropriately dominated by shades of beige, red, and olive green to match the Martian flora, fauna, and environment, the eleven paintings were also designed to fit together to form one enormous landscape, and the same D'Achille artwork was featured on a Ballantine poster featuring a map of Barsoom that long adorned the wall of one sf scholar. To this day, D'Achille's paintings for many remain the definitive interpretation of Burroughs's Barsoom.

D'Achille continued painting sf book covers in the 1970s and 1980s for other publishers, including Ace Books, DAW Books, Granada/Grafton and Pan, but he increasingly devoted his time to illustrating children's books, which he evidently found either more satisfying or more lucrative. He became inactive in his last years owing to various illnesses. [GW]

Gino D'Achille

born Rome, Italy: 30 November 1935

died 10 February 2017


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