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The Sweet side of fantasy art... farewell
December 7, 2011 7:29 PM   Subscribe

The fantasy artist of Xanth, Robert Jordan and many, many more...... If you read fantasy novels in the 70's, 80's, 90's, and beyond, up to ... well, just recently... you know his work. Please raise a . to... Darrel K. Sweet
posted by The otter lady (56 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
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There's something sadly appropriate that the cover of the final volume of the Wheel of Time, whose creator passed before it could be finished, is also left unfinished.

I can certainly criticize some of the man's work, especially his later work, but man, I have so many books on my shelves with his covers. He was an icon, and fantasy literature will never look the same.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2011


I am sorry, this is my first mefi front page post and it is a little hard to make it good, what with emotions and it being late at night. I never met Mr. Sweet, never even corresponded with him, but he did the cover for my first book (long before it was written) and my second(last?)... so he's not a 'friend', but I always admired and feared him and intentionally made the second book weird enough that he couldn't use pregen art for it. I grew up knowing what good books to look for by finding his covers, and to find that he is gone from the world makes me feel sad.
posted by The otter lady at 7:35 PM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


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posted by JHarris at 7:37 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by schmod at 7:41 PM on December 7, 2011


Darn.
posted by bq at 7:43 PM on December 7, 2011


It may be sadly indicative of the kind of crap I read when I was a teen but I can probably name a good 90% of the titles for the images that come up when you do a GIS for Darrel K. Sweet.

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posted by JaredSeth at 7:45 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The titles of the books they covered, that is.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:47 PM on December 7, 2011





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posted by Shit Parade at 7:48 PM on December 7, 2011


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Some fond memories there for me. He was better than a lot of the books deserved, to be honest.
posted by Soulfather at 7:48 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by sebastienbailard at 7:51 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:55 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Scoo at 7:59 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by KingEdRa at 8:14 PM on December 7, 2011


No cat-ass-trophy? Thanks for posting this. Those images are like old friends.
posted by Shike at 8:17 PM on December 7, 2011


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Some people can hear a song or a band and immediately find themselves reminded of the time in their life which seemed filled by that sound. Some cover artists have that effect for me. The pulpier the better, apparently.
posted by hattifattener at 8:23 PM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I didn't know he had done the Xanth covers... dang. Sorry to hear he is gone. But now I feel bad for having been annoyed that the Wheel of Time covers seemed to be getting worse with each new book.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:27 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. Looking at the covers is like turning the sf/fantasy spinrack at any American library in the late '80s. I'm not sure I ever read any of these books, but I sure know those paintings. RIP, sir.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:28 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised at how many of the books I've owned have his covers. I liked the Xanth covers, but for some reason I like the cover to the One Tree by Donaldson the best. The local Waldenbooks did a nice display back when the book came out, so it stuck in my mind that fantasy art could bring other people into these worlds I wanted to explore.
posted by dragonplayer at 8:40 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by whir at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by stoneweaver at 8:42 PM on December 7, 2011


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Thanks for posting this; like everyone above it's funny to see those "old friends" again and put a artist's name to them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:42 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by eriko at 8:51 PM on December 7, 2011


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Lots of fond memories from the past.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:10 PM on December 7, 2011


It was his cover for "Ogre, Ogre" that convinced me to buy my first Xanth novel on a bus trip to Vancouver eons ago, which ignited a brief but passionate obsession with the works of Piers Anthony. And Darrel K. Sweet covers have adorned many purchases since. He was a wonderful artist.

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posted by Kevin Street at 9:33 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Seboshin at 9:37 PM on December 7, 2011


Sweet's covers for the first two Thomas Covenant series were deeply inspirational to me as I dug my way through the difficult prose and even more difficult characters. Donaldson remains a favorite author for me, and it's probably partially due to Sweet's artwork.

He did so many other covers for books I read between age 10 and today... He was a great talent, and we likely won't see someone of his influence again.

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posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It may be sadly indicative of the kind of crap I read when I was a teen but I can probably name a good 90% of the titles for the images that come up when you do a GIS for Darrel K. Sweet."

Oh, man! All those Xanth books, Heechee Rendezvous, The Run To Chaos Keep, the Heinlein juveniles. David Starr Space Ranger! The Unbeheaded King, Inherit The Stars. It's like a dozen summers rolled into one.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:56 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


He did all those wonderful covers I loved? Sometimes they were the best things about the books in question. They're still beautiful and evocative.

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posted by fleacircus at 10:01 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by sfred at 10:03 PM on December 7, 2011


Man, I didn't realize he did Heechee Rendevous and The Hobbit and all of those others. That painting of the eagle's nest is iconic for me.
posted by loquacious at 10:38 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by kjs4 at 10:59 PM on December 7, 2011


Whoa, Jack L. Chalker's Dancing Gods too. What a trip down memory lane. Thanks for the post.

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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:04 PM on December 7, 2011


judging books by their covers...well, it was one way to pick books as an 80s teen. without those covers I might not have devoured candy and covenant books. thanks for the fanciful art that led to adventure mr sweet!
posted by davidmsc at 11:13 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by RolandOfEld at 11:13 PM on December 7, 2011


xanth. not candy. xanth.
posted by davidmsc at 11:14 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by newdaddy at 11:41 PM on December 7, 2011


Dang... I really did exclusively look for his covers in the used bookstore when Mom gave me a few bucks to go spend before a road trip. Now I know! This thread is evoking a smell for me, one the best smells in the world. You know, when you crack open an old paperback and you stick your nose in the spine? I could only hope to leave such a lingering impression with one image in my lifetime as he's managed to do for me with dozens and dozens.
posted by Mizu at 2:42 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd seen fantasy art before Sweet's covers, and I'd been drawn to books by their covers, but he was the first artist whose covers I specifically looked for to help me identify books that I might want to read. His covers were the opposite of current tendencies toward limited palettes and low chroma book designs, and to this day, when I see those images I think of how bright, beautiful, and colorful the fantasy worlds he illustrated were. His art helped to make them that way for me as a reader, and I still get a pleasant thrill when pawing through my old books and one with a Sweet cover comes to hand.

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posted by cupcakeninja at 4:14 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clicking on some of the examples I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I always liked the pictures. On the other, I quickly learned to avoid the books wrapped in those pictures.
posted by DU at 5:17 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:27 AM on December 8, 2011


God dammit. I still haven't forgiven Robert Jordan for dying.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:28 AM on December 8, 2011


I have a distinct image in my mind of what a fantasy world should look like. This man's art defined that image.
posted by VTX at 5:49 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by mfoight at 5:57 AM on December 8, 2011


He was definitely iconic and influential. I...don't think he was really that great an artist, however. He always struck me as the Thomas Kinkade of fantasy art. Not that there wasn't a lot worse out there, especially when he started.
posted by emjaybee at 6:05 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was growing up, my father's office/library pretty much doubled as a Darrel K. Sweet and Frank Frazetta art gallery.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:25 AM on December 8, 2011


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I still have those books. For my e-books I search for certain covers and re-do the metadata. And yes, some of the books were less good than the art but it is time, image and word that the mind anchors itself.
posted by jadepearl at 6:59 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by Iridic at 7:32 AM on December 8, 2011


He was definitely iconic and influential. I...don't think he was really that great an artist, however. He always struck me as the Thomas Kinkade of fantasy art. Not that there wasn't a lot worse out there, especially when he started.
posted by emjaybee at 6:05 AM on December 8 [+] [!]

Please, let's not speak ill of the dead.
posted by bq at 8:08 AM on December 8, 2011


He was quite liked by many authors for actually painting a cover specific to the book (as alluded above by The otter lady), rather than just some generic guy with sword, as was (and is), the standard practice.

Lawrence Watt-Evans's The Reluctant Warlord was a rare time he didn't, by accident, and he felt bad about it.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:42 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by egypturnash at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by theplotchickens at 10:05 AM on December 8, 2011


I might have decided that a Darrell K. Sweet cover was almost one of those "inverse law" things where the great cover wrapped up a turd…but then I would realize he did some good work for the LotR books (I love the one with the giant golden eagle) so I have to discard the rule. And I think I only read those Katharine Kurtz "Deryni" books because he did the covers.

I wish I could make this have more frills:
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posted by wenestvedt at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2011


I want to go to there.

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posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:14 PM on December 8, 2011


It's "Darrell". If you can't spell it right in an obit, well, ouch.

My opinion of his work is well documented on Metafilter and need not be repeated here. It is sad that he died.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 PM on December 8, 2011


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posted by rossmeissl at 1:04 PM on December 8, 2011


It's "Darrell". If you can't spell it right in an obit, well, ouch.
It's called a 'typo'. I make them sometimes.
posted by The otter lady at 6:52 PM on December 8, 2011


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