Sunday, September 22, 2013

R.I.P. Darrell K. Sweet

My bucket list is fairly long, but I have been fortunate to have crossed off a number of items. I have seen The Kinks play Apeman live, I have met a few Hall of Fame Rock and Rollers, and I have written novels and pieces of music. But I just realized that there is one thing that will never come to pass. In addition to writing a novel, another goal of mine was to have the art of Darrell K. Sweet on the cover of one of my books. But I just learned that he passed away in 2011.

I first became aware of his work when I saw Lord Fouls Bane in a local bookstore. The back cover blurb was interesting, but it was really the cover that pulled me in.

Two successive chapters in the Thomas Covenant series followed, and each time the artwork called out to me:
I would have bought them right away had I not been an eleven year old with barely enough money for a comic book.
As it was, I would gravitate to them each time I found myself in a bookstore. Eventually, I bought and read the series, which completely lived up to the artwork. Yet I couldn't help wishing he had done more than just one picture per book.

Evidently, it wasn't just me who appreciated his work, since his art has graced countless other books. For me, he has achieved THE trifecta, in that his artwork was chosen for the three greatest trilogies of all time, namely The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Lord of the Rings,

and the original Foundation series:
Perhaps it is wrong to judge a book by its cover, but I can't help thinking that Darrell K. Sweet inspired an awful lot of people to open a book and explore when they might never have otherwise. Farewell, Mr. Sweet, you have left an impressive legacy, both in what you have drawn and what you have drawn others into.


  1. Did you find a Lord Foul's Bane painting to buy?
    I have one.

    1. Wow? Which one is it? Send me a picture and I'll post it here. I've never found a painting of his (or even looked for one), but I have gone out of the way to buy books with his art even if I already own the books without it. First comes the money, then comes the paintings.

  2. Wow, I did not know that Darrell K. Sweet had passed away. The man did amazing work. My dad had a copy of the Foundation Trilogy and I remember when at 13 or 14 I went out to buy MY copies of those books that I got the editions that had Mr. Sweet's art on them. Ditto for my copies of The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings. In both instances they are the definitive covers for me. His covers for the Covenant series have always stayed with me though I have never read those books. Very sad to hear this news even though it's almost five years old. Thanks for posting.

    One nit though: the cover in this article for "Foundation and Empire" is done by Michael Whalen who did the art for the editions that followed Sweet's version. While I love Whalen's work, his Mule seemed too cute and timid compared to Sweet's version. Sweet's versions of Seldon, the Mule and Arkady are the versions I see in my minds eye when reading the stories.

    Sweet's cover for Foundation and Empire is here:

    1. Dang, you are right. I only ever bought the editions with the Sweet covers because of the artwork and so never looked at them too much. Thanks for pointing out my boneheaded mistake. It is a nice cover, though.

  3. After a 15 year quest, I have finally found one of the original paintings for the Thomas Covenant books!! See my blog for details.