Wednesday, November 2, 2022


 So, Sunday I picked up the new Tolkien Calendar for 2023. I was a bit surprised (and pleased) to see it on the shelves at the Federal Way Barnes and Noble, since for several years now it's been hard to pick up any way other than special-ordering it.

To my surprise, rather than a single-artist themed collection such as we've seen most years, it features a variety of artists, most of whose work I'm not familiar with: 

Kip Rasmussen

Emily Austin

Spiros Gelekas

Jenny Dolfen

Justin Gerard

*Donato Giancola 

Ted Nasmith provides the introductory  essay, which includes this succinct description:

"depictions of scenes from Middle-earth by a growing international collection of artists have never slowed down, and this year's calendar is devoted to celebrating a selection of them."

He also notes that, like Naismith himself, Rasmussen

"believes The Silmarillion can be made more accessible by way of illustrations"

The art itself is a mixed bag, as might be expected from a gathering put together by a group ranging from professionals to semiprofessionals to fan artists. 

I think my favorites are Donato's cover art: the avalanche on Caradhras  (a very well done depiction of a familiar scene) and Dolfen's Fingon vs. Glaurung (March), with a pleasing lighter pallet than I'd expect from that event. I'm still undecided re. Gerard's Morgoth (November): I like the bottom half of the picture (the burning trees) but not the top half (swirly smoke). We'll see if it grows on me.

One final element that struck me came in the artists' mini-bios in the back, which show that two out of six contributors (Gerard and Donato) have worked in the gaming industry. Donato even singles out KEEP ON THE BORDERLINE as one of his influences.**

In addition to the coming year's Tolkien calendar, I also picked up a write-things-down-on calendar for the kitchen. For this I went with the Van Gogh: full of artwork I've mostly seen before in calendars past, but (a) I like Van Gogh --in fact I'd have to say he's one of my favorite artists -- and (b) he's been having a hard time of it lately --is it possible to bully a dead man?

--John R.

current reading: THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD (finished re-reading), BABEL by R. F. Kuang (still in early stages).

*Of these, I know I have at least one of Donato's art books; I think I've seen a good deal of his work on collectable card games as well

**I assume he means it in the original classic form, not the Return to sequel

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