MrCere writes: SALT LAKE CITY – Alan Lee continued his book tour Friday with a stop in Salt Lake City where he visited just about a year ago for signings of his illustrated edition of ‘The Lord of the Rings.’

His supurb new book “The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook” prompted his latest tour, complete with his own blog here at If you haven’t seen this wonderful book yet, it is a thing of beauty and something no fan should be without.

The crowd gathered early and crammed the usually spacious Border’s book store in Murray, Utah (part of the greater Salt Lake area) where he, just like his legendary humble self, sat in the midst of the crowd and made small talk with those who arrived early enough to sit close.

He is widely known as a kind and gracious man and these characteristics were clearly evident. As with all the previously reported stops on his tour, Lee started with a powerbook presentation with art, sketches and photographs.

He demonstrated with series of photographs how actors looked on a set with blue screen and how they looked afterwards for the finished film when Lee’s artwork and world creation replaced fields of man-made blue or green. He explained to the audience some of the work involved and shared amusing anecdotes from the moments of the now legendary set of those ‘Rings’ films.

Most delightful and unexpected were photographs of the principal talents working on the sets and film, especially when Lee was seen with the likes of collegue John Howe, Peter Jackson and a host of WETAs and other random Academy Award winners. Of course Lee never spoke of awards and accolades and instead focused on the process – both practical and creative – of making the movies.

He also fielded questions from those gathered and there was no shortage of raised hands. He mentioned that on a film set with its time demands that he never could afford to have an ‘off day’ and on the occasions when he reaches difficult points in his work he found talking a walk to be helpful.

In response to a question he said that natural talent and practice aren’t as big a factor for an artist as temperment. Being willing to sit alone and labor at an drawing board and be self-critical was Lee’s most important attribute for success as an artist.

Lee talked briefly about his treasure from the films when Jackson and partner Fran Walsh presented him with Gandalf’s staff as a momento and he also talked about his cameo appearances with self depreciating humor hinting that Gimli spoke of Lee himself with his line about many of the men set to defend Helm’s Deep had ‘seen too many winters’ – Lee was an extra in that scene.

One fan asked about the possibility of a portfolio or book with all of the character pictures from the end credits of ‘Return of the King’. Lee said that fans have asked the same question at each of the book tour stops and the request is duely noted. Houghton-Mifflin, are you listening?!

Lee was of course generous and gracious with his time after the Q&A by leisurely signing books, taking pictures with and of fans and talking with those who were so joyful and often in awe to see a legend in person.

He claimed to not be a rock star of the art world but the gentle gentleman underestimates how highly he is esteemed by the Tolkien communities he so graciously visits.

Lee is off next to San Francisco and we wish him all the best!