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—including 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.
Darrell was one of the first painters I called when I started my career at Tor, eighteen years ago, and we’ve worked together continuously throughout these past near-two-decades. He was the 2010 World Fantasy Guest of Honor and I was very grateful to spend a full weekend with him and his son, after so many years of talking on the phone and trading notes through express mail. Regardless of how many years he had in the business, or how many paintings off the easel, he was as eager to talk about technique and craft and his passion for painting as any student at the beginning their career.
I’m particularly sad that he was unable to finish Memory of Light, the final book in Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series the The Wheel of Time. He has been a vital part of this series since its 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.
His son stated, “He lived his life as an artist—seeing the beauty that surrounds.” Our thoughts are with the Sweet family.