Leo and Diane Dillon

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Leo Dillon
Born Lionel John Dillon, Jr.[1]
(1933-03-02)March 2, 1933
East New York, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died May 26, 2012(2012-05-26) (aged 79)
United States
Nationality American
Education Parsons School of Design
Known for Illustration
Spouse(s) Diane Dillon
Awards List of awards
Diane Dillon
Born Diane Clare Sorber[2]
(1933-03-13)March 13, 1933
Los Angeles, California, United States
Nationality American
Education Parsons School of Design
Known for Illustration
Spouse(s) Leo Dillon
Awards List of awards
Jadis, the White Witch of Narnia. Art by Leo and Diane Dillon[when?]

Leo Dillon (March 2, 1933 – May 26, 2012) and Diane Dillon (née Sorber; born March 13, 1933) were American illustrators of children's books and adult paperback book and magazine covers. One obituary of Leo called the work of the husband-and-wife team "a seamless amalgam of both their hands".[3] In more than 50 years they created more than 100 speculative fiction book and magazine covers together as well as much interior artwork. Essentially all of their work in that field was joint.[1][2]

The Dillons won the Caldecott Medal in 1976 and 1977, the only consecutive awards of the premier honor in U.S. picture book illustration.[4] In 1978 they were the highly commended runners-up for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for children's illustrators; they were the U.S. nominee again in 1996.[5]


Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian immigrant parentage, was born and raised in East New York, and Diane Sorber hails from the Greater Los Angeles Area. Leo enlisted in the Navy for three years' service so that he could attend art school. The couple met at the Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1953 — where they "became instant archrivals and remained together from then on".[3] They graduated in 1956 and married the next year. An association with writer Harlan Ellison led to jobs doing book covers for his short story collections and both cover and interior woodcut illustration for his anthology Dangerous Visions. They illustrated a large number of mass market paperback book covers for the original Ace Science Fiction Specials, for which they won their first major award, science fiction's 1971 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. A detailed biography and introduction to their work and styles was written by Byron Preiss in a book he edited in 1981, entitled The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon. They once described their work as incorporating motifs derived from their respective heritages.[clarification needed]

On May 28, 2012, Ellison reported on his website his reception of a phone call from Diane announcing Leo's death at the age of 79 from lung cancer two days prior.[6] Spectrum Fantastic Art, an annual art competition and art book project of which the couple were general managers, confirmed Leo's death on its website.[7] The obituary of Leo in The New York Times praised the Dillons jointly as "one of the world's pre-eminent illustrators for young people, producing artwork — praised for its vibrancy, ecumenicalism and sheer sumptuous beauty — that was a seamless amalgam of both their hands", also noting the ethnoracial diversity of characters in the Dillons' work in the 1970s, "until then, the smiling faces portrayed in picture books had been overwhelmingly white."[3]

The Dillons had one surviving son. Lee (Lionel John Dillon III), born 1965, became an artist and collaborated with his parents several times, including the illustrations for Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch by Nancy Willard (1991).[8] Both Leo and Diane lived in the Cobble Hill neighborhood at the time of Leo's death.

Picture books illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon[edit]

Chapter books illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon[edit]



  1. ^ a b c The Dillons created cover illustrations for many books that were not first editions. By policy the cover images and cover illustrations displayed in Wikipedia book articles should be from the first editions but that is not always true. They should have captions but that is not always true.


  1. ^ a b Leo Dillon at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved July 8, 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ a b Diane Dillon at ISFDB. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Margalit Fox (May 30, 2012). "Leo Dillon, Celebrated Illustrator of Children’s Books, Is Dead at 79". the New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA)
    "The Randolph Caldecott Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002" Archived 2013-01-14 at Archive.is. The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (literature.at). Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  6. ^ Harlan Ellison (May 28, 2012). "Leo Dillon Is Dead". Harlan Ellison website. "Diane just called. Saturday, he died. Saturday. Tumor on the collapsed lung, he never regained consciousness. I'm more than a pretty miserable piece of shit right now. Half my soul for fifty years went with him. Please remember Leo & Diane. 
  7. ^ "Spectrum Fantastic Art". 
  8. ^ "Leo & Diane Dillon: The Third Artist Rules". Interview conducted by Karen Haber. Locus Online (excerpted from Locus Magazine, April 2000). Locus Publications. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "Coretta Scott King Book Awards - All Recipients, 1970-Present". ala.org. American Library Association. Retrieved April 26, 2017. 
  10. ^ World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on 2010-12-01. Retrieved 4 Feb 2011. 
  11. ^ "Winners 2012: Fiction". Bologna Children's Book Fair. BolognaFiere S.p.A. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Borea, P., & J. Janow. "Leo and Diane Dillon." Communication Arts Magazine 25: pp. 42–51, May/June 1983.
  • Brodie, Carolyn S. "Creators of Magic on Paper: Leo and Diane Dillon," School Library Media Activities Monthly 15(6): pp. 46–48, February 1999.
  • Cooper, Ilene. "The Walk of Life." Booklist 95(3): pp. 344–347, October 1, 1998.
  • Davies, Anne. "Talking with Leo & Diane Dillon", Book Links 14(3): pp. 45–48, 2005.
  • Davis, SE. "One + One = Three." Step-By-Step Graphics 13: pp. 30–41, 1997.
  • Deines, Ryah. "An Interiew with Leo & Diane Dillon," World Fantasy Convention (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). Mystery in Fantasy & Horror (Souvenir Program), pp. 68–71, 2008.
  • Haber, Karen. "Leo & Diane Dillon: The Third Artist Rules", Locus 44(4), n471: pp. 4–5, 67-70, 2000.
  • Preiss, Byron, ed. The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon. New York: Ballantine Books, Trade Paperback, Hardcover and Collectors Limited Edition, Fall 1981.
  • Reichardt, Randy. "Tribute to Leo & Diane Dillon," World Fantasy Convention (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). Mystery in Fantasy & Horror (Souvenir Program), pp. 45–46, 2008.
  • Wills, F. H. "Leo und Diane Dillon," New York: grafik fur popular-wissenschaftliche werke {with English and French tr}. Novum Gebrauchsgraphik, pp. 50–56, March 1968.

External links[edit]