Steve Carper on the Solo SF Art of Leo Dillon

Steve Carper on the Solo SF Art of Leo Dillon

Leo Dillon Galaxy art 2-small Leo Dillon Galaxy art-small

Art for Stephen Barr’s “The Back of Our Heads” by Leo Dillon (Galaxy, July 1958)

Leo Dillon, who passed away in 2012, was one half of the famous husband-and-wife art team of Leo and Diane Dillon, who won back-to-back Caldecott Awards in 1976 and 1977, and the 1971 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist for their work on Terry Carr’s Ace Special covers. They created some of the most iconic SF and Fantasy cover art of the 20th Century, including Harlan Ellison’s Deathbird Stories and Strange Wine, John Brunner’s The Traveller in Black, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. But before he began to work with Diane, Leo had a career doing interior art for Galaxy magazine from 1957-60. BG blogger Steve Carper unravels some of their fascination history at his blog Flying Cars and Food Pills.

Even though they had been working full-time as illustrators in the publishing industry, they were neither wealthy nor famous nor much recognized in the science fiction community in 1968… They knew Harlan Ellison, though, having done covers for his books as early as 1961, and he naturally recruited them for the cover of his monumental 1967 anthology Dangerous Visions. There weren’t supposed to be any interior illustrations but Harlan, being Harlan, suddenly decided he wanted them. On the Friday before the book was to go to press on Monday. He hied over to the Dillon’s brownstone in Brooklyn and they stayed up the entire weekend taking inspiration from Harlan’s synopses of all 33 stories. For some reason Harlan brought Terry Carr with him…. Diane [recalled]: “After that, Terry began giving us assignments for book jackets, the Ace Specials.”

Read the article here, complete with generous samples of Leo Dillon’s interior art, and a lengthy listing of his art for stories by Poul Anderson, Theodore Sturgeon, Clifford D. Simak, Fritz Leiber, H. Beam Piper, Frederik Pohl, Zenna Henderson, William Tenn, Robert Sheckley, and many others.

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I have a Signet Classic paperback version of Leo Tolstoy’s “The Cossacks,” and you can easily see the name “Dillon” written in the bottom left corner. The copyrights page says this was first printed in 1961, but my copy is from a third printing, so I don’t know if there was different cover art on an earlier printing. Don’t know if it’s by both, or just Leo. They certainly have a very distinct and highly recognizable style.

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