The Princess Bride (Cover for Ballantine Books)

I first became aware of Ted CoConis’s artwork in 2015 when I had searched out the individual responsible for this cover art for the first edition of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. Seeing this starkers bird-headed madam made me wonder if I was remembering a totally different book? Or if the artist had even read the book at all??

I shared this on Facebook at the time, and a friend suggested that, as CoConis was a highly in-demand illustrator, it’s possible that Ballantine had bought several finished but unsold paintings of his in a batch, as his work would have been cheaper that way, and they stuck this one on Princess Bride because it was a fantastical-looking thing. That makes as much sense as anything else, but I still wonder what CoConis thought about it after the fact, especially if he was familiar with the story!


poster art for Labyrinth

A few years later, when I was putting together the initial list of artists that I wanted to include in the pages of The Art of Fantasy, CoConis’ movie poster art for Labyrinth came to mind. Labyrinth, that whimsical yet unsettling masterpiece of 80s cinema, had etched itself onto the childhood psyche of my generation. Sarah’s iconic, etheral, dream-spun ball gown, the seductive charm of the Goblin King, and the fantastical creatures woven from Jim Henson’s puppetry magic – all captured in CoConis’ poster, a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and enigmatic shadows. It was a call I couldn’t ignore, a chance to explore the artistic wellspring that gave birth to such a treasured piece of pop culture. Unfortunately, for some reason or another (I honestly don’t know why), the publisher could not attain permission for this. SAD TROMBONE.

Curiosity piqued nonetheless, I delved deeper into CoConis’ world, only to discover a dazzling phantasmagoria of fantastical visions that transcended movie posters and book covers. His art isn’t merely illustration; it’s a prismatic panopticon, a protoplasmic symphony where sensuality and caprice entwine. Coconis was a psychedelic storyteller painting the pulse of emotions into fantastical tapestries.  And his artistry wasn’t chained to a single canvas. It thrummed on album covers, ignited imaginations on movie posters, and whispered inscrutable promises on book jackets (like the cryptic siren above )

Accolades were plentiful for CoConis. From the Society of Illustrators to prestigious museums, his work drew awards and recognition, tangible markers of a vision that enchanted audiences. While CoConis’ earthly journey ended in 2023, the echoes of his groovy magic still resonate powerfully. Here are a few of my favorites below.

Dorian Gray (Movie poster for American International)


Created in 1975 for the cover of Jerzy Kosinski’s The Devil Tree, oil on board, 1975


The Sims Sisters (Illustration for Ladies Home Journal)


film poster for The Man of La Mancha


Shostakovich Symphony No. 14 (Album cover for RCA Records) mixed media on board 31×31


album art for Year Long Disaster – Black Magic; All Mysteries Revealed, 2010


If you enjoy these peeks at the artists I love, or if you have ever enjoyed or been inspired by something I have written, and you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?


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