DANBURY, Conn. -- Happy birthday to Danbury’s Michael Whelan!
Whelan, who has owned a home in Danbury, turns 66 on Wednesday. The artist was born June 29, 1950, in Culver City, Calif.
Whelan exhibited his work at the World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, D.C., where it was seen by Thomas Schlück, who discovered his work and contracted to use it in European publications.
Donald A. Wollheim of DAW Books gave Whelan his first American professional assignment—the cover painting and frontispiece drawing for Lin Carter's fantasy novel, "The Enchantress of World's End," published in May 1975.
In 1975, Whelan moved to Connecticut to be near the New York City hub of the publishing industry.
Shortly after arriving on the East Coast he exhibited some of his student work in the Lunacon convention art show in New York.
Whelan soon gained a reputation as a talented, imaginative, and dependable cover artist, working for science fiction and fantasy publishers such as DAW, Del Rey, and Ace. His paintings have appeared on the covers of more than 350 books and magazines.
Whelan credits the 1978 publication of Anne McCaffrey's best-selling "The White Dragon" featuring his cover art as a turning point in his career.
He won his first Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1980 at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in June 2009, the first living artist so honored.
He went on to win the next Hugos, and at the 50th Worldcon in 1992 was voted the best professional artist of the last 50 years. He has won 15 Hugos.
He has returned to illustrate several major book covers during his semi-retirement, including the last book of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series and the final volume of Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time."