Friday, October 14, 2011

New Tolkien Calendar

So, today I finally managed to pick up next year's Tolkien Calendar, the second in a row with Cor Blok's pug-ugly art. The most interesting part is the 'A Tolkien Tapestry' centerfold, arranging dozens of his LotR illustrations into sequence in tiny thumbnail format. The actual monthly displays give us more of his signature pieces, such as most of his characters being armless, and Gollum-as-a-duck, which sounds like a joke but unfortunately isn't. There are some odd choices of composition as well -- has anyone else ever devoted a painting to Grima spitting? (cf the one for October). I hear there's a book due out soon explaining how he came to do this project, Tolkien's response to it (or what parts of it he saw), &c -- all of which actually sounds more interesting than the art itself. Which is, as I might have said, pug-ugly.

I did have an amusing exchange with the sales clerk at Barnes & Noble when I bought it that went something like this.
He: oh, Tolkien calendar.
Me: yes. Tolkien's said to have seen and actually approve some of the art.
He (after long, considering pause): perhaps what Tolkien saw isn't these pieces . . .
Me: or perhaps Tolkien was a kind-hearted man.

--John R.

current reading: THE STAR BEAST by Rbt. A. Heinlein (just finished)
THE ZERO STONE by Andre Norton.*

*probably my favorite book before I read LotR.


Zenopus Archives said...

Everyone seems to love or hate Blok's LOTR art. I'm in the love camp, found it a refreshing change, and have the calendar up on the wall in my office. I'm delighted and amazed they are using it for a second year for the calendar, since I'd guess lower sales than usual. I saw folks commenting on Amazon that this would be the first time they didn't buy the calendar. On the other hand this was the first one I'd bought in a few years.

The long interview with Blok at the Tolkien Library was very illuminating with respect to the original project when I first heard about last year's calendar. The book, a Tolkien Tapestry, edited by Pieter Collier (Tolkien Library) is already out in the UK.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Zeno.
I'm glad to hear that others can find value in what I can't enjoy myself. I'd read an interview before, but I don't think it was that one. In any case, it's a good piece and bears re-reading. However, re-reading it only confirmed me in the opinion that that Blok work is more interesting as a project than in its results.
I do wonder, though, what happened to the pieces Tolkien bought: did he keep them, give them away, toss them out? Or did they simply get lost among the masses of material that was pouring in during Tolkien's latter years?
In any case, having long believed that Tolkien himself was the best illustrator of his own work, I'm really looking forward to THE ART OF THE HOBBIT, wh. shd be out soon.