Chris Achilléos 1947-2021Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 9 December 2021 - Reported by Marcus
Chris Achilleos (Credit: Candy Jar)

The artist Chris Achilléos has died at the age of 74

Chris Achilleos designed the covers for many Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories throughout the 1970s. His inspirational illustrations were for many fans of the era, their primary visual connection with Doctor Who.

His artwork had a seminal influence on the science fiction and fantasy genres, and throughout a career spanning five decades, he consistently remained one of the most respected and in-demand artists in his field.

Chris Achilleos (Credit: Candy Jar)The signature Achilléos style combined vivid colours, minute detailing, and an innovative blend of historical, psychedelic, and comic book influences. Although much of his work was produced on commission, to be miniaturised and serve as book covers, album covers, and film posters, Achilléos produced all his canvasses at largescale, which allowed him to showcase his rare technical skill, refined during his studies of Scientific and Technical Drawing.

Such was the ambition of his artwork that it earned the attention of George Lucas, who hired him as a conceptual artist for the visual-effects showpiece Willow; it was a position Achilléoshad previously held on the production of the cult classic Heavy Metal, starring John Candy and Harold Ramis.

It was, however, for his book covers that Achilléos was perhaps best known. His work has adorned hundreds of books, for authors such as Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Moorcock.

His prolific work for the Target range of Doctor Who novelisations, meanwhile, left an indelible mark upon the show and its universe. In the worlds of Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi, a guest at the opening of a 2016 exhibition of Achilléos’ Doctor Who artwork:

Chris Achilléos artwork perfectly captures the action-packed spirit of 1970s Doctor Who.

It’s like he invented it himself.”

Lavishly detailed, with psychedelic overtones and an unapologetically pulpy sensibility, Achilléos’ work both reproduced and reinterpreted the eccentric energy of the show’s classic era, defining a generation’s image of the Doctor and his adventures in the days before repeats or VHS recordings.

From the depths of outer space to the realms of fantasy, Achilléos’ subject matter was a far cry from his childhood in rural Cyprus, during the last days of British rule. He moved to England in his early teens, along with three siblings and a widowed mother. He spoke no English and described himself as an introvert who sought solace from prejudice in his art.

Lacking the money for art supplies, he produced his earliest sketches on the back of wallpaper and on paper donated by a local butcher. Having always fiercely maintained his rights over his work, retaining wherever possible the original canvasses, his professional pieces have become highly sought after, and adorn the walls of collectors the world over. Their abiding influence is evident in the work of the admirers he inspired.

He leaves behind a wife, two daughters and two grandsons.

Thanks to Candy Jar Books


Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Space War (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who The Three Doctors (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Ark in Space (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and theCave Monsters (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and theWeb of Fear (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Cybermen (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Zarbi (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Genisis of the Daleks (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Claws of Axon (Credit: Chris Achilléos)Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (Credit: Chris Achilléos)

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