Elric Covers Through the Years

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The myriad incarnations of Michael Moorcock’s legendary Elric in media rival the thousandfold manifestations of the Eternal Champion himself. While comics, games, and illustrations and art of all stripes have celebrated the striking appearance of the albino Prince of Chaos and his vampiric black runesword against the brooding, doom-haunted backdrop of his dark fantasy epic, it is the eye-grabbing cover art of multiple editions of the Elric Saga that truly brought these stories to the attention of the public. From the abstract to the adventurous, the colorful to the bleak, the look and feel of the Elric stories has sparked the imaginative best from many an artist. Here’s just a small sample of their work for US publishers over the years — the UK market is probably even more varied and wild than these, but that may have to wait for another article!

Starting in 1977, DAW issued the collected Elric stories in six paperbacks, with some revisions from Moorcock. These books introduced a generation of fans to Elric, and Michael Whelan’s energetic covers have since become classic, establishing the look and feel of the doom-haunted Melnibonéan swordslinger. In many of Whelan’s images Stormbringer is up-flung with a kind of motive all its own — as if it were jerking itself from Elric’s grasp, almost contorting him, a massive sword simultaneously impossibly light weight but also difficult to handle.

Another piece of Whelan’s was used for the cover of the collection Elric at the End of Time.

The Berkley/Ace run of the nineties presented a new look for the series, with Robert Gould’s almost two-dimensional approach lending an iconic look to an already iconic character. Gould’s take on Elric has proven very popular, as his covers for The Revenge of the Rose, the Moonbeam Roads trilogy, and the two-volume scifi bookclub omnibus editions demonstrate.

Del Rey’s six volume collected Elric arranges his saga in order of publication, and restores some early stories to their original state. Fully illustrated, with art from John Picacio, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Steve Ellis, and Justin Sweet, these editions go out of their way to compliment the stories with interior art.

The recent three-volume Elric line from Saga Press uses a darkly brooding Brom portrait of Elric, along with Whelan’s iconic Stormbringer cover and a standout piece from Gould.

And, of course, at the end of 2022, we will get the twelfth Elric book: The Citadel of Forgotten Myths.

Author: billward

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