I love how Avatar makes the nonbenders just as cool and powerful. It’s like saying “hey you don’t have these cool powers but you can still be like these awesome characters” Korra fell in love with a nonbender. The fire lord fell in love with a nonbender. The self proclaimed greatest earthbender of all time had a crush on a nonbender. Some people argue that the fire princess fell in love with a nonbender. The avatars son was (for most of his life) a nonbender. The two greatest warriors to come out of the water tribe were nonbenders. The universes greatest bounty hunter was a nonbender. The fire princess chose two nonbenders for her small elite team. Two thirds of the gaang were nonbenders. I just think it’s really cool.
SWORDS & ICE MAGIC (1977) by Michael Whelan, cover for a collection of stories by Fritz Leiber.
Early in Michael’s career, he displayed a singular ability to pluck characters off the page to present them fully realized on the cover.
We take realism for granted in fantasy today, but back then this was a bold shift that stood out on the shelf. A Whelan cover translated directly to book sales, and that’s why publishers kept Michael so busy in the early decades of his career.
For fans, these are the portraits that stuck through the years. Roland of Gilead. Elric of Melnibone. And, of course, the classic pair of rogues Fafhrd and Grey Mouser that we see here.
I was ecstatic to find the original in my dive through the studio. I’ve always loved the illustration and I wanted to update our gallery on the website with a crisper photo.