Artist Michael Whelan • Birth ♋ Thu 29 Jun 1950 (72 years, 1 months, 21 days, 26349 total living days)

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Michael Raymond Whelan is an USA artist of imaginative realism. For more than 30 years, he worked as an illustrator specializing in science fiction and fantasy cover art. Since the mid-1990s, he has pursued a fine art career, selling non-commissioned paintings through galleries in the United States and through his website. (Text and image taken from Wikipedia)

The paintings of Elric of Melniboné originally used for Michael Moorcock‘s fantasy novels, have been used for all four Cirith Ungol studio albums. The cover art has their own titles and were all made in the 1970’s. Some of the paintings are available at Whelan’s webshop. Here is an overview of which chronologically painting has been used for which album cover.

Elric Of Melniboné (1976)

Oil on Canvas Board – 24″ x 18″. The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.

For ten thousand years Melniboné ruled the world. Elric, the 428th Emperor, seemed destined to see that era come to an end. An albino, sustained by rare drugs, it fell to him to confront the rise of the Young Kingdoms, of the monsters and sorceries which were threatening to overwhelm him and his ancient crown.

The Elric novels have already become classics of heroic fantasy and future projection. DAW is proud to present them to an eager public in new editions, corrected and revised by michael Moorcock.

Sailor on the Sea of Fate (1976)

Michael Whelan has done 7 full color paintings, many black and whites illustrations, and drawings of Michael Moorcock’s anti-hero Elric of Melnibone. This painting is his favorite.

Acrylic on Illustration Board – 20″ X 30″. The full painting can be seen and bought at the official Michael Whelan website and here.

Leaving his cousin Yrkoon sitting as regent upon the Ruby Throne of Melnibone, leaving his cousin Cymoril weeping for him and despairing of his ever returning, Elric sailed from Imrryr, the Dreaming City, and went to seek an unknown goal in the world of the Young Kingdoms where Melniboneans were at best, disliked.

Urish’s Bane (1976)

A fascinating book that gave me the fun of painting a “no-holds-barred” demon. In many ways I did this one for me–dark–and I’m pleased it has received such a positive response from the readers.

Acrylic on masonite – 24″ x 18″. The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.

The Vanishing Tower is a continuation of “The Elric Saga” where the wandering albino prince makes the acquaintance of, and adventures with his multiverse brothers, and learns a great deal about his fate, and the fate of his world.

The demon of Ashaneloon Castle.

Stormbringer (1977)

This is probably Michael Whelan’s most famous painting of Michael Moorcock’s legendary anti-hero Elric of Melnibone. Whenever he sees it he can’t help smiling, because he remembers Donald Wollheim saying that “green covers never sell books.” Yet Don took the chance and used it for the cover and it sold great.

Acrylic on Masonite – 30″ x 20″. The full painting can be seen at bought at the official Michael Whelan website, and here and a funny stuff here.

The epic tale of Elric of Melniboné, albino prince of ruins, moves to its awesome conclusion – with the whole of the natural and supernatural world in mighty conflict – the final conflict, Armageddon. Elric holds the key to the future: the new age which must follow the destruction. To turn that key he must sacrifice all that he loves and risk his very soul.

King of the Dead (1977)

Gouache on illustration board. The full painting can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.

Stormbringer is brought Home! Elric returns to Yishana, and finds peace at last. Meanwhile, at the world’s rim, dragging red horror in its wake, a horde unimaginable moves on the fabled, gentle, impossible city, Tanelorn.

White Wolf (1977)

Elric derives his strength and magical powers from his sword Stormbringer which feeds on the souls of those it kills.

Oils and Acrylic on Illustration Board – 26″ x 17″. The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.

Michael John Moorcock is a prolific English writer primarily of science fiction and fantasy who has also published a number of literary novels. Morrcock’s most famous popular works by far have been the Elric novels, starring the character Elric of Melnibone. In these books, Elric is an anti-hero written as a deliberate reversal of what Moorcock saw as cliches commonly found in fantasy adventure novels. Weird of the White Wolf is the third of a six-volume series of the original stories written about the albino prince.

Elric Demonslayer (1980)

Originally done for the frontispiece of a special hardcover edition of THE VANISHING TOWER by Michael Moorcock.

Acrylic on Panel – 24″ x 16″. Demonslayer (incorrectly is Dragonslayer). The full cover can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website and here.

The swashbuckling and fantastic adventures of the moody albino prince — Elric — and his soul-drinking runesword, called Storm-bringer. The two are on a quest for The Vanishing Tower, which stands at the nexus of space and time and is a gateway into other dimensions. Elric must conquer the demon that inhabits the tower and tame the soul of his black runesword.This tale and its heroes weave in and out of events throughout Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series.

The demon of Ashaneloon Castle. It was the plan of having live recording from the 1980’s, but it has unfortunately failed. See the interview from nearer the bottom there.

Elric and The Sinking City (1984)

As Michael has said many times, he loves painting texture and he really enjoyed it for this cover. He also enjoyed portraying Elric in a more somber and reflective pose than on his other covers.

Acrylic on Canvas – 36″ X 20″. The full painting can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website and here.

The Dark Towers: Sister Mary Came From The Shadows (2005)

Original painting: Sister Mary Came From The Shadows (2005)

Oil on Panel – 12″ x 19 ½”. The full painting can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website and here.

The Little Sisters of Eluria by Stephen King (Donald M. Grant) (1998)

This 4,000 copy Limited Artist Edition is numbered and is signed by Michael Whelan. It is issued in a foil stamped slipcase. Published in a larger format than the Dark Tower series which enhances Michael Whelan’s thirteen full color plates and over twenty-three black & white designs.

Elric in Exile (2012)

    A small Elric painting that became the album cover for “Forever Black” by Cirith Ungol.

    Acrylic on Canvas – 9″ x 12″. The full painting can be seen at the official Michael Whelan website.


    The Corroseum: Your covers were done by the formidable M. Whelan. How did you manage to get his permission to use his works? Do you consider the elf warrior on all your covers some kind of trademark for the band, some kind of mascot? What would be the best album cover of the band in your opinion and why

    GREG: Michael is the finest fantasy artist around. I think maybe some people buy the album for the cover art and throw the record away! The series of Elric paintings gives the albums a nice sense of continuity. And Michael has a couple more Elric paintings that could be used for a new album. Personally, I think the F & F cover is one of the best album covers ever.

    Metal Heart: How did you get in contact with Michael Whelan by that way, the drawer of your very impressive album-covers? Just phoned him and he said: Yeah? Has he ever heard your music and what does he think of Cirith Ungol? Did you have to pay for the covers a lot?

    ROBERT: At the time we wanted a “Sword and Sorcery” (S&S) theme cover called “Berserker” by Frank Frazetta (a famous S&S artist) but it was taken by the country rock band Molly Hatchet! I was reading “Stormbringer” by Michael Moorcock at the time and was thinking man this is the ultimate cover art! I never thought we could use it but I contacted the publisher who got me in touch with Michael Whelan, who is one of the few people in our entire music career who was honest, friendly and kind, and he let us use it. I think we were the first album covers he had done at the time and we really wanted to use all his “Elric” series on our covers which we did! I told him that I always wanted to buy the painting for the cover Stormbringer from him if we made it big but we never did. He was quite successful then, but now he is probably the world foremost fantasy artist/painter/illustrator and his paintings cost $$$. I think he liked our music especially “Frost and Fire”. We really didn’t pay him much money back then but now I’m sure he would be very expensive. Recently he painted Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell” and some covers for the band Sepultura. It is funny, Deep Purple had an album named after the book and we got the cover. Blue Oyster Cult also had a song “Bane of the Black Sword” which was based on Michael Moorcock’s writing. Moorcock himself wrote and played with an English band “Hawkwind”.

    Truemetal: As usual you used Michael Whelan’s painting for the album cover. How does this collaboration begin? Is he a Cirith Ungol fan?

    Rob: This fantastic painting we chose for the cover, “Elric in Exile”, perfectly reflects the dark and brooding mood of this album. Yes, it was painted by Michael Whelan, whose art graces our 4 other studio albums, our single, “Witch’s Game”, and our live album, “I’m Alive”. He is a world-renowned artist, whose masterpieces have been featured on albums by bands such as; Sepultura and Smoulder, and authors; Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and Arthur C Clarke.

    Ever since we forged a relationship with Michael Whelan with our first album, “Frost & Fire”, our dream was to use his series of Elrić of Melnibone covers from the 1980’s DAW Book editions, for all our future covers. Of course, back then we were a young band and had no idea what the future held for us, or how many albums we would ever produce. Once again, we are honored and privileged, to have this renowned artist’s work again gracing our latest album, and hope to continue to work with him on any future projects! He has been one of the bands best and most stedfast friends throughout the years, even coming out to see the band play in Brooklyn, New York at the “Defenders of the Old” festival!

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