Tuesday, September 8, 2009

10 Books A Day: #140

Pictures By J. R. R. Tolkien...Foreword and Notes by Christopher Tolkien...Houghton Mifflin Company

J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist And Illustrator...Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull...Houghton Mifflin

A Middle-Earth Album...Joan Wyatt...Fireside Books

Greg And Tim Hildebrandt: The Tolkien Years...Text by Gregory Hildebrandt, Jr....Watson Guptill Publications

Greg And Tim Hildebrandt: The Tolkien Years, Expanded Edition...Text by Gregory Hildebrandt, Jr....Watson Guptill Publications

The Lord Of The Rings Sketchbook...Alan Lee...Houghton Mifflin

Realms Of Tolkien...Harper Prism

Tolkien's World...MJF Books

Journeys Of Frodo...Barbara Strachey...Ballantine Books

The Atlas Of Middle-Earth...Karen Wynn Fonstad...Houghton Mifflin Company

The Atlas Of Middle-Earth, Revised Edition...Karen Wynn Fonstad...Houghton Mifflin Company

It may be hard to realize, but it struck me while I was making this list how little iconography there was for Tolkien's work when I first started reading him. There were, of course, his own illustrations in The Hobbit and on the cover of the trilogy. There had been calendars featuring more of his art, and stuff by Tim Kirk, too; but an old calendar might as well have been last year's newspapers as far as getting hold of a copy. There was the trippy covers and posters featuring emus and pink bulbs, which, even as naive as I was, I knew it had very little to do with the tale. But just that year I saw the second Hildebrandt calendar, and fell in love with their work, and went to extraordinary lengths to get their third, and as it turned out, last calendar.

Then there was a kind of explosion going on. Animated versions of Tolkien's work came out, and every illustrator seemed to be trying their hand at producing calendar work. By the time Peter Jackson got around to making his films, there was a wealthy, long tradition of depictions to consider, to see what worked and what didn't. Of course he settled on Alan Lee and John Howe as his major artistic designers, and the look they developed has come to mean Middle-Earth for many people. But there is a vast collection of other visions that are available.

I love the book J. R. R. Tolkien Artist and Illustrator because it not only includes his pictures of Middle-Earth, but drawings from real life and illustrations of other tales he told his children, and concept drawings he called "Ishnesses", which include "Undertenishness" and "Grownupishness", symbolic of those states of life. His art from real life shows his talent, and especially his appreciation of nature and mood.

Joan Wyatt's was one of the earliest portfolios I ever got totally dedicated to LOTR. Her style was a striking contrast to the Hildebrandts. Where they focused in on close groups of characters, most of her pictures were panoramic, with the figures rather small in the sweeping landscape of Middle-Earth, that was a character in itself.

Tolkien's World and Realms Of Tolkien are both collections of pictures from various editions of Tolkiens books and art from the calendars. As such they have no author; any text is quotes from Tolkien's books that show what the illustration was drawn from. Some great pictures, some "What were they thinking?" stuff.

Journeys of Frodo and the atlases are all maps. Journeys of Frodo details all the legs of Frodo's journey, trying to calculate how far everyone walked each day. Obsessive? You bet. The revised Atlas of Middle-Earth covers everything mentioned in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings; as such, much of it is speculative (especially the shape of the earth before the First Age, and the layout of Valinor. But they do help you wrap your head around certain spatial relationships.

Book Count: 1667.

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