Tor.com‘s Irene Gallo is reporting that Darrell K. Sweet has passed away at the age of 77:
It is with tremendous sadness that I report that Darrell K. Sweet passed away this morning. Since the mid 1970s, Darrell’s illustrations defined many of fantasy’s most beloved series — Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, among literally thousands of genre book covers. An avid history buff, Darrell also spent much of his time painting frontiersmen and the American West. His paintings evoked the classic storytelling narration of the Golden Age illustrators. A Sweet cover promised an adventure to be had.
In recent years, Sweet’s artwork has been at the wrong end of several jokes and various criticisms across the blogosphere (including this blog), but there’s no denying, especially when looking at the artwork scattered throughout this post, that Sweet was an absolute legend of the Fantasy Art field and contributed greatly to the vision of Fantasy in the ’80s and ’90s. In fact, Sweet’s art, particularly his work on Terry Brooks’ novels, helped invigorate and really define my love for Fantasy as a teenager. He gave a magical vision to the stories bouncing around in my mind as I read.
To those worrying about the final cover for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Gallo reports that Sweet’s painting was unfinished at the time of his passing:
I’m particularly sad that he was unable to finish Memory of Light, the final book on Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series the The Wheel of Time. He has been a vital part of this series since it’s beginning, 25 years ago. I know he was hoping, to the end, to be able to see this epic body of work to its completion.
It seems a silly thing to worry about in the wake of Sweet’s passing, but Sweet has been the cover artist for Jordan’s legendary series since it found its first readers over 20 years ago. Regardless of the quality of the most recent Wheel of Time covers, it is a shame that Sweet was not given the chance to finish the series and leave a lovingly consistent look to the entire series.
My guess is that Sweet’s draft will be adapted or finished by another artist (Greg Manchess?), similar to the treatment given to Jordan’s final novels, which are being finished by Brandon Sanderson. Only time will tell, however.
My thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones.