Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Deadline / Noble Smith's HOBBIT quiz

So, I've been on deadline -- first with one small project that ran long because of multiple interruptions and disruption in the schedule, then with a second small project that got a late start because of overruns on the first.

Now that they're both done (yay, the dance of doneness), I can return to my two ongoing projects, one of which is nearing completion (the one without a firm deadline) and the other of which still has a long way to go.

Which is just a roundabout way of saying: more posts on the way soon, after a bit of an unintended hiatus.

In the meantime, here's a link to a 'ten things you didn't know about THE HOBBIT' piece that showed up on Huffington: Books a few days ago.

I like the phrase about Gandalf's "little pipe-smoking vacation" but don't see the point in mentioning Rankin-Bass's stop-motion work when the work in question (the animated HOBBIT) wasn't stop-motion. Dubious about the comments re 'halfling' and 'bag-end', but the only real error that struck me is the statement that the Tolkien Estate sued TSR; pretty sure it was not the Tolkiens but Saul Zaentz (a.k.a. "Tolkien Enterprsies"), the movie people, who brought the hammer down.

In any case, we're now entering the countdown for the release of the expanded edition of the first HOBBIT movie (Tuesday the 5th), accompanied by a slew of film tie-in books. And soon too the second film (December 13th). Not much longer to wait now . . .

--John R.
just finished: ZEALOT by Reza Aslan
re-started: Lady Gregory's tales of the Tuatha de Danaan
also re-started: Boswell's LIFE OF JOHNSON (audiobook), with disk ten (out of thirty-six)


Marcel R. Bülles said...

Hi John, this is one of those pre-internet things ;) which have some level of obscurity to it - who sued TSR for the term "hobbit"? If you don't happen to have some of Gygax' rantings on Tolkien/ Estate etc. then who else would? :)

The only thing I have been able to find which did not look like some completely irrelevant digital blabber was this site:

and that one:

And they make the case it was the Estate. If the Professor was indeed mentioned in early versions of D&D, well, then ...

David Bratman said...

Did this predate Zaentz buying the film rights? If so, it's more likely to have been the Estate than the previous owners of the film rights, who never seemed very interested in protecting trademark claims, but Zaentz fairly soon 1) set up Tolkien Enterprises as his licensing company; 2) commissioned the Bakshi movie.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Marcel
You will almost always see (second-hand) accounts of these events attributing the cease-and-decest to "the Tolkien Estate". But this carries little weight, since people still today often say "Tolkien Estate" when they mean Saul Zaentz (i.e. Tolkien Enterprises). I did once see a reference which made it pretty clear it was not the Tolkien family but the film people in TSR's case, but that was five years or so ago when I was researching my "Brief Sad History of Tolkien Roleplaying Games" and I no longer have the reference handy.

David: Zaentz got the rights in 1976. TSR had used words like "hobbit" and "Nazgul" and "Balrog" in the D&D rulebooks from the beginning of 1974 (1st printing) to at least as late as April 1976 (fifth printing); in the sixth printing of 1977 such references are purged and replaced with more generic terms like "halfling" and "wraith" and "type six demon"

So the timing supports a crack-down by Zaentz in the run-up to the Bakshi movie, based on his newly-acquired licensing rights. I can find no evidence that the Tolkien family launched any offensive against Tolk clones at the time (being otherwise occupied in the chaotic period between Tolkien's death and the publication of THE SILMARILLION).

Marcel: If/when I come across that evidence that it was the film-folks and not the family that came down on TSR I'll post it, but there's no tell when that might be.


Marcel R. Bülles said...

Thanks for getting some of the chronology straight, John. And yes, I always beware of anything that is on the net :)

One of the things in recent years which has made a lot of people blink their eyes in confusion was the name change of Tolkien Enterprises into its new form, Middle-earth Enterprises. Might have come with the Tolkien word trademark registered in 2000 by ... The Tolkien Estate.

And don't even get me started when I try to tell people it's one thing giving your money to the Tolkien Trust (dishing out big bucks to registered charities) - or Saul Zaentz. Not dishing out money to anyone ;)

Sorry I can't help out with early 70's D&D and related publications. We could possibly shoot Ed Mesky an email - he's bound to know this!