For those who don't know, Reilly is the protagonist of one of my favourite novels, A Confederacy of Dunces, introduced to me by my 12th grade English teacher, who could clearly spot a misfit when she met one. Maybe it's a coincidence, but Confederacy won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981 (posthumously, another interesting, but sad, story), the same year as that Time cover.
Maybe the cover artists were one in the same (unlikely). Or maybe the Time's cover artist was a fan of the book (possible). Or maybe it was just "in the air". I'd like to think it was the latter, since it faintly echoes our (and many others', of course) belief that scientific visualizations are, extricably, a product of the broader culture in which they are created.