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But but but WAIT! I never got to meet him!
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Mood:
So very very sad

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Earlier this week, on Memorial Day actually, I called to ascertain that Mockingbird Books was open. (It's about a block up from the Greenlake library for you Seattlites who have never heard of it.) I had asked the bookstore folks to order some books for me and I'd gotten the phone call that both were in. Stu was flying back from Miami so it was a pretty perfect errand/road trip by wheelchair. I did my usual wandering around the store, (I was the only customer in the store for the better part of an hour) talking first to one staff person who was just leaving, then at length to another (damn, why do I forget to ask names??) and, after talking about that book that I am searching for (a particular edition of "The Little Princess"), I asked my "every time I'm around children's books? inquiry. I always ask "what do you have that has artwork by Leo and Diane Dillon?"

Leo Dillon had died two days before. I was once again, looking for his work. I did not know. I read it on Facebook and I cried out, I really did. I got email from a friend who knew I would want to now this bad news, and I am grateful she did that. I was stunned. This is a dumb reaction when someone IS after all, 79, but I did not know his age or health. I only knew how the art of Diane and Leo (and Lee) Dillon has sustained me these last what, 36 years? Since my earliest days as a science fiction fan, when I was still attending Star Trek conventions, where I heard Harlan Ellison speak, where I discovered anthologies and saw my first Dillon illustration. I was hooked. I so loved their work. If I can say I am a "collector" of things (I usually see myself as an "accumulator or acquirer), then I collect the Dillons. Since buying a copy of Harlan Ellison's anthology Dangerous Visions, I have wanted to be surrounded by Dillon work.

Thanks to Terry Carr, who, I believe was responsible for their work on Ace doubles, and other paperbacks. Thanks to Harlan who was adamant that everyone should know their work, I had access to their work - mostly cover art - early on. Thanks to Tom, Dave and Debbie of The Other Change of Hobbit who let me know about things including, I think, the "Owl Woman" print (which I could not really afford. Did someone loan me that $60? I think it was $60.) I framed it at the shop near OCH. (I was so proud of learning how to frame stuff. I have several things that I framed. It was FUN.) To frame "Owl woman" meant using materials that cost three times was the print cost. It still looks fantastic.

I learned the Dillons had two Caldecott medals. I found From Ashanti to Zulu and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. I found books at library and yard sales and in used bookstores. I found paperbacks of books by James Schmitz and Alexei Panshin,and Gerald Karsh whose work I was unfamiliar with, as well as books by Le Guin. I read or was told once that the Dillons would not illustrate a work unless they truly liked it and felt it was a good book. I wanted that to be true, and bought books based on that thinking.

There are articles and interviews out there that tell you how they created their unique art. They learned all sorts of arts and all sorts of crafts in order to create a cover. They weren't convention types, so I never saw them at Boskone or Lunacon, but i always hoped. And I figured that some day, as we have people in common, I'd have the opportunity to meet Leo and Diane and thank them for how they've enriched my life.

Booksellers who know me have always been on the lookout for me. Friends have found a book in their storage room or have found one lying on a blanket at a yard sale and have brought it to me. I have posters of their work and I have shelves full of Dillon stuff. I think I even have one or two records from Caedmon Records for which they did the cover art. Most recently, I discovered Monica Furlong and am looking at a Dillon cover on her Wise Child. The "Owl Woman" is on the wall in our bedroom where I can look at it every damn morning. The cover art for Joan Vinge's Snow Queen hangs in the living room. I never get bored by their work. It is layered, it uses endless varieties of techniques, it is the work of genius. It is always always beautiful to me.

I never knew Leo Dillon but I mourn his death as if we were the best of friends. He didn't know me, but he and Diane have given me such joy. I have a life that IS joyful, but it also very hard at times. Spending time in the universe that we have shared is of great help to me - focusing on something else helps me get past the pain I deal with. In a book like Aida, which they did with Leontyne Price writing the story? I find new things every time I look at it.

Last night I was checking back on blog posts in order to find one post to read next week when we unveil my mother's headstone. I ended up reading several posts from 2011. One of them was a November post talking about the ten authors I would want at my Thanksgiving dinner. I listed Leo and Diane Dillon. They are authors, although most of their stuff that I adore is designed for other people.

Books matter. I can - and probably will - spend hours on line looking at obits and in the hope of seeing examples of the Dillons' work. But I can see myself hauling out every book that contains art by Leo and Diane Dillon for a while, in order to honor this partnership. I am still so very sad. Of course everyone dies. We lose people. Life is finite and this means there will not be a new Dillon book to look forward with, at least not right now. Those articles you read will tell you how these two artists became a third one and would allow no one to watch them work.

Leo Dillon is gone. I cannot believe it. There are days where I am sustained by what he and Diane created. I loved them. Maybe it's more accurate to say I had a crush on these two people. Heh.

I am grieving and sorrowful at the loss of this great talent, this wonderful man, this brilliant artist. I feel bereft, but worry that that's being overly dramatic. After all, I never met the guy. But there is now a hole in my life where there was not before.

I am, yes, so glad to have had these people in my life and I have many books to look at. But I still am wrecked that he's gone.


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