Monday, March 28, 2011

Sendak's HOBBIT

So, thanks to Janice, who got it from Wolf, here's the link to an interesting piece by artist extraordinaire Tony DiTerlizzi --who I remember back from his first major TSR project, the third edition MONSTER MANUAL (I being one of the four-man Monster Selection Committee for that book, along with Tim Beach and Jeff Grubb and, I think, David Wise); I prize the medusa he drew in my (now rather battered) copy when I asked him to sign it. Later he really made a name for himself doing the iconic art for PLANESCAPE (true confession time: the only thing I liked about that setting was the DiTerlizzi art, which was wonderful) -- the associated BLOOD WARS collectable card game (by Steven Schend) is almost a pocket-sized gallery of his 'greatest hits'.

And now DiTerlizzi, who's since made a name for himself with the Spiderwick Chronicles as well, has posted an essay about the failed project in the mid-1960s to have Maurice Sendak illustrate THE HOBBIT:

Reading over this, I'm glad to see the one piece with Bilbo and Gandalf, which I rather like. It's nice to know that the copy of THE HOBBIT with Sendak's little thumbnail sketches in it survives and is now at the Beinecke; I hope these will be published someday. But I don't think it's a tragedy that this edition never took place. I like Tolkien's own illustrations better than those of any other artist I've seen tackle the job. Even when they're artists I like and the results are really impressive; Tolkien's art is part of the book for me in a way that even really good art by someone else can't be. And if we were going to get a talented children's illustrator of the era to do THE HOBBIT, I'd rather it have been Mercer Mayer than Sendak, whose work is too idiosyncratic for me.

But now that I've seen this, and the context, I find myself wanting to see DiTerlizzi's TUOR someday . . .


POSTSCRIPT: Wayne Hammond, over on the MythSoc list, has posted a message with some more information on this collaboration-that-never-was, as recorded in publishers' records (as opposed to the word-of-mouth (Sendak > Maguire > DiTerlizzi) account:

--John R.

PPS: If you follow the link to DiTerlizzi's site, you might find it amusing to click on the second link to the right ("Thrones") near the picture of Peter Jackson with hobbit-pipe, which leads to a puff piece about THE GAME OF THRONES and how it's totally way better than Peter Jackson's LotR because it's got boobs and beheadings and stuff, and one of the characters likes to go to brothels. Oh, and one of the script writers finds that "[A]t this point in my life as a 40-year-old man, I am much more excited by [Martin]'s stories than I am by "Lord of the Rings". Which, I think, says it all.

As for me, I like Sean Bean, but not enough to watch ten to twenty hours out of The Book That Never Ends -- I'd want to try reading A GAME OF THRONES again first, and see if I cd get all the way through it this time.

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