Chris Achilleos covers not quite original artwork?

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    If you were a fan of the original Doctor Who novelizations in their original form, you’re probably well-acquainted with the cover artwork of Chris Achilleos. It’s such an iconic “look” that it’s become a bit of a badge of honor for some fan artists to ape that style. The most iconic Achilleos cover is probably for the 1973 reprint of “Doctor Who and the Daleks,” which was originally published in the ’60s by Lion Books; a children’s publisher called Target Books bought paperback reprint rights in the early ’70s, had Achilleos do dynamic new covers for them, and suddenly Target had a whole new flagship product.

    But according to writer and fan journalist Paul Scoones, who – among other things – organized Doctor Who fandom in New Zealand in the ’80s and now researches and writes the “production notes” subtitles on many of the classic series DVDs, it turns out that Achilleos was aping someone else’s style. Actually, try “directly copying someone else’s artwork.” [LINK]

    Paul Scoones’ site also has at least one other example of Achilleos almost directly copying elements of the Century 21 comic artwork for another Doctor Who book cover. (Century 21 was a comics magazine in the UK, published by Gerry Anderson’s production company’s marketing wing, that leaned heavily on TV tie-ins, mainly based on Anderson’s Supermarionation series – the Daleks were a rare example of something not from Anderson’s stable that appeared in Century 21; they had their own Doctor-free comic strip.) Though he’s blogged this discovery, I’m sure more will be made of this in his upcoming book on the comics set in the Doctor Who universe from the ’60s through the 1979 debut of the Doctor Who Weekly (later Monthly) magazine, which took over the Doctor’s comic adventures exclusively from that point on and could easily take up its own whole book.

    I don’t know if anyone has asked Achilleos himself for an explanation of the… um… similarities. He attended a cover signing of some reissued versions of the original Target books – still bearing his artwork – just last month.

    Not sure if this really counts as a scandal, but it’s definitely one for the WTF!? file. And really, even though it was so long ago, it’s just not cool for a “mainstream” artist – even a commercial one – “borrowing” stuff from comic artists who had to just crank the stuff out relentlessly on very tight deadlines while managing to make the end result look… well… not like crap. Achilleos has continued to cash in on the piece of artwork in question too, so the “oh so long ago” thing isn’t much of a factor either.

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