With The Hobbit movie just around the horizon, enthusiasm for author J.R.R. Tolkien is again at a fever pitch. New fans are just discovering the author and his books and learning what most of us have known for a long, long time: there’s a reason he’s considered a master of fantasy – he’s just that good. Tolkien fandom is one of the oldest forms of fantasy fandom around. The Hobbit hit shelves in 1937, and readers have been passing it down from one generation to the next ever since.
Tolkien’s fans come from all works of life. Artists in particular have found much to love in his epic tales of fantasy and friendship. It’s only appropriate: Tolkien himself was a great artist, a watercolorist whose work, while necessarily fantastical, seems to echo the Arts and Crafts movement that was contemporary to Tolkien’s own work.
Many artists have illustrated Tolkien’s work, officially and otherwise. Barbara Remington was the cover artist for the first Ballantine paperback edition of The Hobbit. Apparently, she had only a basic idea of the book, having not had the opportunity to read it herself. The cover was eccentric. According to Wikipedia, the first version included a lion and had pumpkins growing in a tree. Remington went on to become a big Tolkien fan herself, and was probably quite amused to learn how different her own conception was.
For many years, the HIldenbrandt brothers, Greg and Tim, were the artists most associated with Tolkien’s legacy. The Hildebrandts published their first Tolkien-inspired paintings in a 1976 calendar, and continued their work on Tolkien’s world (as well as those of Terry Brooks and many other authors) for the rest of their lives. Their last Tolkien calendar was published in 2006. Tim has passed on, but his brother Greg continues his art career.
John Howe is another artist associated with the Tolkien legacy He and artist Alan Lee served as conceptual designers for The Lord of the Rings trilogy – to date, the definitive portrayal of Tolkien’s world on the silver screen. Their impact may be indelible on future generations!
With this kind of artistic legacy, it’s only suitable that The Hobbit be adapted into a graphic novel. Available now from your local bookstore, this new take on an old classic brings Tolkien’s world to life in astonishing detail. Read it now – you’ve still got time before the movie comes out.