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Maitz, Don

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1953-    ) American illustrator, husband of artist and author Janny Wurts. Maitz actually began his career in sf art before graduating from the Paier School of Art in 1975, and he quickly began receiving regular assignments to paint book covers. From the start, he placed an emphasis on human figures, often in unusual positions with distinctive facial expressions; his cover for L Sprague de Camp's The Virgin & the Wheels (coll 1976), for example, offers a novel take on the familiar trope of the sword-wielding barbarian defending a nubile maiden against bestial foes, and not merely because the barbarian sports a tail. Despite an early focus on works of Fantasy, Maitz also did covers for republications of Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr juveniles, the first editions of the four books in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (1980-1983 4vols), and an effective cover for a 1979 edition of Barry N Malzberg's Beyond Apollo (1972), wherein the troubled look on the central astronaut's face nicely captures the spirit of the novel. With his emphasis on portraiture rather than space hardware or alien landscapes, Maitz can be regarded as a forerunner of a shift in genre art that accompanied and facilitated its rise to mass-market popularity in the 1980s.

Maitz soon branched out into other areas, most notably by creating the very popular "Captain Morgan" character that adorned numerous advertisements for Seagram's Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and led to other assignments to illustrate pirates. But he and Michael Whelan dominated sf art during the 1980s, and while Whelan usually won the Hugo as Best Professional Artist, Maitz was regularly nominated, and finally won the award in 1990 and 1993. He also earned the first of his ten Chesley Awards for his cover for Hugh Cook's Wizard War (1987), an imaginative rendering, mostly in purple and green, of an enigmatic figure emerging in a puff of smoke from a bottle. As a sign of his popularity, his artwork was also celebrated in two compilations, First Maitz: Selected Works (1988) and Dreamquests: The Art of Don Maitz (1993), and he was asked to do the cover and interior art for the first limited edition of Stephen King's Desperation (1996). In 1989, he married Wurts and relocated to Florida, and he has evidently kept very busy with a variety of projects while continuing to paint book covers; however, documenting all of his activities can be challenging. For example, he claims that he worked as a conceptual artist for two animated films, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) and The Ant Bully (2006), but he was not officially credited for that work, and despite reports that he has painted album and CD covers, one struggles to locate a specific example. [JG/PN/GW]

Donald Raymond Maitz

born Bristol, Connecticut: 10 June 1953



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