Before we plunge into news junkets and global premiers, here’s one more look-back at SDCC 2022.

This was my 5th adventure with TORn for an experience that continues to be as overwhelming as it is incredible. Bookending Covid closures, the cons of 2019 and 2022 were completely different for TORn. Three years back we were in 20th Anniversary mode, and our panel of familiar faces brought both reminiscent nostalgia as well as the “rare good ballast” of Dispatches from Middle-earth that our faithfully devoted Comic Con fans love (hello the Button Lady!), as well as a discussion of the then far-off Rings of Power series.


Roughly two decades earlier, the convention was a much smaller enterprise, and so were we. Hall H was just a room with a lot of seating capacity and a big screen. A handful of us presented on our panel and we didn’t have so much as a folding table on the exhibit hall floor. The Lord of the Rings films were a great big unknown for most not too far beyond the bounds of Tolkien fandom. Weta’s 1st line of FotR movie collectibles were on display at the Sideshow Toy booth while the Weta team wandered the floor like we did; I was shooting pictures with my mother’s digital camera and couldn’t get the date set right…

We could see the wave coming on some distant horizon. We knew we were building something, part of something. Something that crossed boundaries and minimized identities of nation, ethnicity, faith, gender, economic status, ability. The last thing we were thinking about was 2022.

A merry gathering

For me, this year’s Comic Con was absolutely an unexpected party. Two panels, a booth, and hosting the Prime Video Rings of Power fan event was not in the early forecast! Understanding the moment, TORn leadership reached out to fandom colleagues we met for the first time in person in London, inviting them to join our panels and staff our booth.

And they came! From London proper and destinations sprinkled throughout the US, they came by planes, trains, and yeah – automobiles. Planes dead on the tarmac, nasty weather, overnight flights, crazy transfers and rerouting, driving through 115 degree heat… nothing stopped these new friends from coming together to do what we love the most: celebrate the writings of JRR Tolkien.

Celebrate we did! And represent. And engage. Crowds at the booth were often five people deep, in an area dedicated to books that is usually pretty quiet by con standards. Willie (Knewbettadobetta) holding court alongside Matt (Nerd of the Rings) and Jed Brophy (Nori, orcs #5, 6 & 7, elf #5, Ringwraith, writer…). Kaitlin’s (Tea with Tolkien) calming presence. Kellie (author and Happy Hobbit) sharing her books and signing for her fans. Kris (Elf_boi) scripting the names of fans in elvish on an iPad. Lauren in her now-famous Galadriel cosplay. Chris (TORn Tuesday camera man and all-around ninja) tirelessly handling exchanges to move the small mountain of merch we had to sell. Cliff (our own Quickbeam) booming trivia with the voice of an ent. Tireless Justin (TORn Tuesday) seeming to be everywhere and nowhere, the nuclear power making it all happen.

Panels, halls and a party

This year we hosted not one, but TWO panels. Thursday’s set featured a more typical TORn offering, with Justin at the helm, engaging staffers Cliff, Kellie, Cathy (Garfeimao), and Josh (Collecting the Precious), and special guest Kris. Richard Taylor and Philippa Boyens kicked of the conversation with a War of the Rohirrim-themed welcome video! (Demosthenese interviewed Boyens recently re: WotR here.)

Straight from the panel this Took struck out to find the Day Before line for Hall H. Highlights: Hanging with LadyNico and her intrepid British Posse; scoring a ticket to see Shatner on Shatner from Cathy; late night blues with Varking and Knewbettadobetta, literally sleeping on the concrete wrapped in a thin blanket; meeting Dianne from our Discord; jamming to the disco cabs riding by (also a low-light); finally getting banded and marching to the next line.

As you may have heard, the Prime Video Rings of Power Hall H panel was astounding. Check out this piece by staffer Garfeimao for details.

Two hours after Hall H ended, it was time for our staff to report for duty at what promised to be the fan event of the weekend: the Prime Video party! Showrunners Patrick McKay and Lindsey Weber mingled with us after a special cast signing for holders of a Golden Mallorn (leaf) ticket. Actual costumes graced the hall, as you can see in this post by staffer Mithril. The event was spectacular, and being able to select cosplayers to meet the cast was truly memorable.

Sunday, TORn’s second panel was serious, funny, and exemplary. Moderated by Justin, the focus was on Middle-earth’s 2nd Age, and it was a whopper. Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen, Cliff, Willie, Anna Marie, and Matt held some serious court in a room fixated on every word. Time compression seemed to actually happen as a rich discussion of the 2nd Age’s known elements, and the wide open spaces between them inviting new storytelling, unfolded. Here it is!

TORn 3.0

This isn’t just a new era for Middle-earth storytelling – it’s a new era for Tolkien fandom too. After a long slog by many faithful and hard working staff, TORn 3.0 has bloomed! It’s incredible to be here. Hosting and sharing Comic Con with our friends in fandom enriched everyone’s experience and illustrative of how times have changed. We look forward to continued collaborations as the community swells and the influence of JRR Tolkien broadens through time and place. Forth Ringers!

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that on Sunday morning, April 1st you woke up to a bunch of internet websites doing their best to fool you into thinking their words were true, and TORn is no different. We did post two separate stories that were lacking in the veracity department. One post claimed we were moving to a paid subscription business model, which on it’s own is intriguing, but because some message board members were involved, there were links to supporting messages. In fact, the bulk of the story sounded quite reasonable, until you got to the highest subscription level, ‘Mithril’ and one perk is the ability rent a Nazgul, for no more than 2 hours a year, and the reminder to book early for the Halloween timeframe and that TORn is not responsible for terror or destruction. OK, that last bit had me cackling, anyone else? No? Just me then.

The other story, believe it or not, actually fooled our own, beloved Webmaster Calisuri. He can be forgiven, it was clear a lot of people wanted the story about Guillermo Del Toro working on the Amazon Middle-earth stories to be true, which is what made this story so much more believable. There was nothing outlandish in the story, it was about a current subject that TORn had just covered the week before at Wondercon, and it fed into the deep fan desire to see the Middle-earth that could have been. And while we want to come clean with you, the readers of our little website, we especially want to reach out to Guillermo Del Toro to assure him there was no malice intended with this April Fools joke. We knew fans would fall for it, or want to fall for it, because GDT is so beloved as a storyteller and creator of amazingly detailed creative worlds, and in the end, the reach of this story just says how much GDT is appreciated in this fandom. This guy wasn’t fooled.


When Amazon Studios first announced their big production deal last November for a Lord of the Rings television series, there was just one thing missing, a big name attached to the project. There was no Producer, Showrunner or even a Writer or team of Writers to indicate the direction these stories might take and give confidence to fans that Middle-earth would be in good hands. 

It has been confirmed that the Guillermo Del Toro has signed on with Amazon Studios, in conjunction with his Tequila Gang production company, to Executive Produce and write this iteration of Middle-earth. He brings with him his co-writer, Chuck Hogan from The Strain. Del Toro’s long time manager, Gary Ungar says that they have already begun identifying and sifting through possible stories that exist within the Appendices, separating out those that are more fleshed out in other Tolkien properties. Because the deal with the Tolkien Estate and Trust is still in flux, they are currently only looking at storylines they know won’t be a legal issue so they can get down to writing.  

During that time waiting for The Hobbit project to finally get going, Guillermo Del Toro spent nearly two years breaking down The Hobbit and working with pre-production designs for the story he was helping to craft. His visual style and ability to create wild and very unique looks was one of the reasons fans came to really anticipate Del Toro’s take on Middle-earth. We wanted to see what he would do with the Elves and Dwarves and even Men, and we especially wanted to see what he would have come up with for all the monsters. When he finally had to leave the project because it was dragging on too long waiting for a green light, fans felt a sense of loss and mourned The Hobbit that could have been. 

This is why Del Toro is perfect for this project. He already has a deep knowledge of the source material, including what can and can not be included legally, and he’s got designs that never got the see the light of day. Because Peter Jackson and WETA are not going to be involved in the Amazon Studios production, there is little reason to maintain strict adherence to the design motifs put in place for the various races. The only design features required are within Tolkien’s books, and beyond that, Del Toro will get to finally let loose with his own, distinct look and feel with very little constraint. What will his Numenor look like? Will we see a Northern Kingdom or meet a young Aragorn, as Thorongil, as he journey’s about Middle-earth learning the skills he will later need to become King?  

Amazon has already announced that it will be developing a Lord of the Rings series set before the events of the original films. The company reportedly spent $250 million to acquire the rights alone and, according to that same report, marketing and productions costs for two seasons could raise the investment to $500 million. It is still unclear if these stories will be told in a series of anthology like episodes or story arcs, or if there will be a much wider, more epic scope to the narrative. 

Amazon Studios will produce the series in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, book publishers HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema.