This August I will be exhibiting at Fanexpo Canada for my second year in a row. The four day event promises another weekend of monumental attractions, celebrities, comic creators, artists and as always, a bustling crowd. To the delight of fans anticipating the two-part release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, I have chosen to dedicate my efforts into illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s much beloved novel as a small introductory book. Filled with a compendium of facts from Tolkien’s Middle Earth mythopoeia, fans of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy films and books can learn about Bilbo Baggins’ There and Back Again journey and its major players through pictures and accompanying text. The illustrations will profile each group of dwarves as represented in different scenes from the novel.
Thankfully I am able to design Tolkien’s characters with little to no influence from the film, with the exception of what few images exist from pre-production concept art. Jackson’s dwarves deviate from our pre-conceived notion about the appearance of these underground dwellers and are instead keenly tailored to their personalities as well as culture. There were some reservations, however, about how far the director was willing to tamper with the classic visual characteristics of dwarves and their racial values. Thorin Oakenshield and Kili, for instance, fail to meet the Longbeard standard with their ostensible grooming and lack of facial hair. To be fair, after the handsomeness brought onscreen by Aragorn and Legolas from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, he had to appease the female demographic watching for hunks ;).
My dwarves resemble more of the Iron Age Scandinavians I envisioned with my first reading of The Hobbit. In addition to referencing clothing and armour from concept art produced by The Lord of the Rings Trilogy art department, I consulted museum imagery of preserved Iron Age bodies recovered from bogs in Sweden. With their pointed caps and shoes, the bog people embody the true essence of the dwarves Tolkien would have scribed about from Norse mythology.
Sketch for Thorin Oakenshield:
“We are met to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices. We shall soon before the break of day start on our long journey, a journey from which some of us, or perhaps all of us (except our friend and counsellor, the ingenious wizard Gandalf) may never return”
An Unexpected Party; pg. 17
Sketch for Ori, Nori and Dori:
“There was a howl of anger and surprise from the goblins. Loud cried the Lord of the Eagles, to whom Gandalf had now spoken…Other birds flew to the tree-tops and seized the dwarves, who were scrambling up now as far as they ever dared to go”
Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire; pgs. 100-101