Saturday, February 13, 2021

RIP Rowena Morrill (1944 - 2021)

Illustrator extraordinaire Rowena Morrill has died at age 76 after a long illness, according to Locus. I was just thinking of her too as only several days ago I purchased a copy of 1978's Dracula Book of Great Vampire Stories, solely for her stunning cover art. It arrived on my doorstep earlier this past week (with more scuffing than I'd expected from a seller description of "F/NF" but oh well that's not what I'm here for today). I just love the "roll call" of Draculas, male and female alike! Pretty spectacular work, in every respect.

Many of my favorite horror paperback covers were painted by Morrill, regardless of whether I liked or even read the novel adorned. My personal taste runs to her horror work, obviously, like her stunning debut, 1978’s Jove paperback original Isobel:
 
 
Way to make an entrance! More late Seventies horror art came in the form of two Jove Lovecrafts and the haunting lesbian love story Burning
 
In the late Eighties she produced perhaps her most iconic horror covers, for the Pocket editions of Robert McCammon's novels. These editions are emblematic of that entire era of horror fiction, and truly belong on any collector's shelf:

Most of her work looked to me as if she'd actually read the stories she was illustrating, which is not always something artists had time to do, I'm sure. These two covers for Frank Belknap Long and George R.R. Martin classics are good examples:

 
Happily Rowena Morrill was lauded and well-thought of for her entire career, and did not, like so many other artists, languish in obscurity. I can’t count how many science fiction, fantasy, or horror books her work has graced over the decades, but the genres are all the better for it. For a good obit, with plenty of background, visit here.

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