Emma writes: It was wonderful to be back at the North Michigan Avenue Borders, where we were once again treated like welcome guests by the wonderful Mark and Molly, who’s been so kind to us at the Sean Astin signing. They remembered most of us, and their familiarity with us, and ours with them, made the whole event run very smoothly and pleasantly for all concerned.

Although some of us had gotten there earlier, the crowds were starting to arrive in large numbers by 5, so Mark let us into the seating area quite early, which made for a very comfortable wait. At just after 6, Alan Lee showed up, nearly an hour early. We were told that he had passed up resting somewhere “off stage” in preparation for his presentation, and instead (in typical Alan fashion) chose to mingle with fans and sign some early autographs.

The presentation itself was lovely, despite a snafu with a bad slide projector that necessitated having a staffer drop in each slide individually (poor guy!). Alan talked a bit about Gary Russell’s delayed “Art of LOTR” and his part in it (Gary Russell had been in Chicago the week before, which was great for those of us getting things signed by both of them), as well as the sketch book Alan himself is having published next year. His slides ranged from his sketches, to photos he’d taken during production, from armor to scenery to characters, to locations, and just flew by so fast I barely had time to take it in. There was a Q&A after the presentation, with a lot of interesting questions asked concerning his work, the movie, books, and a wide variety of things. One question, concerning whether he had a favorite sketch, saw Alan pull a drawing out of his portfolio and pass it around the room! Just amazing.

I couldn’t manage to find a way to word what I wanted to ask–which concerned how little of Kaitoke Regional Forest was actually used in creating Rivendell–but I managed to talk to Alan about that while he was signing my book. He seemed to spend more time LISTENING to his fans than autographing, which was wonderful. It was great to hear so many people want to talk to him, to ask questions or make observations about his work. Some people wanted sketches and he obliged–I hadn’t wanted to ask, myself, but when I saw one of Gandalf he’d done for another fan, I was sorry I’d been so reticent!

A few of us from the Chicago Fellowship decided to wait around and try for a group shot at the end–unfortunately, we didn’t adequately communicate that to the others, so there were only 4 of us left when Alan finished his last sketch. But it was a great night with a great artist, and I’m glad he decided to keep on with his tour despite having nothing to particularly promote on it. [Images]