(Or Ages Dark & Light) – By John Howe

New books are always a welcome event, especially as they provide an excuse to briefly escape from the studio and get out into the rest of the world a moment. (Like many illustrators, the time spent proportionately in the former as opposed to the latter is sadly inferior in quantity; quality, of course, not being issue open to debate or even wise to contemplate.)

And, yet another chance to set thoughts to paper. A portion of this is my personal ramblings for the book itself, but has been considerably restructured and augmented thanks to the kind prodding (ignore illustrator’s hesitations, uncertainty, unsureness, doubt, irresolution, indecision, equivocation, vacillation, waffling, wavering, second thoughts, dithering, stalling, dawdling, temporization, delay, reluctance, disinclination, unease, and dubiety too) and pertinent questions (“Can you repeat that? Intelligibly. Please?”) of Ruth Prickett at Illustration Magazine. See their FALL 2007 issue. Buy a copy. Subscribe. (Buy a back copy – there is a lovely article in the Spring 2007 issue which should be in the libraries of all self-respecting admirers of Mervyn Peake.) [More]

Tolkien Forever's Hall Of Fire, Sept 22, 2007
Arwen writes: The fifth edition of TORN’s annual Baggins Birthday picnic celebration in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park was a well attended, joyful, fun filled event. Due to the area next to the Merry-Go-round occupied all day by the UN’s “Day Of Peace” activities, the Baggins picnic had to be moved to a different location, and there was some fear that partygoers may get lost, but eventually everyone found their way to the grounds (probably guided by some wizardry from Gandalf!).

After the torrential rains of the previous day, the sun was shining. Of course there was no avoiding the usual bees and yellow jackets (our friend Saruman was stung and showed a badly swollen hand), but overall everything was ideal. There was plenty of food, and everyone ate their fill (it’s not a hobbit picnic for nothing!). Games were played (Golfimbul…), trivia questions were asked and answered, scenes from the movies and the books were re-enacted. And lots of trophies were won. Two birthday cakes were devoured, and raffle prizes were distributed.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for participating in this weekend’s events, both the picnic and the wonderful Hall of Fire organized by our friends from Tolkien Forever on Saturday. It was a great Tolkien weekend in the LA area, and we look forward to seeing everyone soon again!

Earlier this month Viggo Mortensen was a guest on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’. He was there to promote his new film ‘Eastern Promises’. Take a look at the clips below for that interview!

G’day from New Zealand, Weta supporters!

Well it’s been another busy month here at Weta HQ, with lots of exciting developments!

The Bungie team recently had a test drive of the Warthog we created for the Halo shorts, and we caught it on vid! Check out the hilarious carpark derby, complete with ‘commentary’!

Weta Bug recently revealed our work on two Radical Publishing projects, Hercules and Medieval. The design team had a great time coming up with illustrations for these very cool stories, and you can check out the inspiration behind these here.

The world of Dr Grordbort’s continues to expand. The testimonials page has had four new character additions and two web exclusive comics from the adventures of Lord Cockswain!

Dr Grordbort’s fans and artists around the globe have been busy getting involved, too. This month on the Weta Forums, we held a competition asking punters to send in their craziest, wackiest and most entertaining acronym for the F.M.O.M. Industries Wave Disrupter Gun. And the winners are…
1st Prize: Future Masters Of Mankind
Highly Commended: Formerly Mike’s of Massapequa and Flouroquantum Moleculular Oscillating Munitions.

Across the world, a Lord Cockswain lookalike was spotted in a faraway jungle, a new art piece from a Raygun inspired artist graced the web pages of WetaHolics and the ManMelter was named Most Stunning Raygun‘ in a fan poll dedicated to the weapon!

The web team recently revealed an exclusive preview of the upcoming game, Hellgate: London on WetaHolics – which teased and tantalised fans who are looking forward to the October 31 release date. Next month, we’ll be revealing an exciting new Hellgate: London competition … more details coming soon!

Meanwhile, we have released further details of our work on the second film from The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, with concept illustrations from the design files, and more details of exactly what armour, weapons and miniatures we have been working on.

Weta Co-Director Richard Taylor, designers Chris Guise and Daniel Falconer and Weta Bug headed down to the book launch of ‘Champ The Chopper’ earlier this month. It was a great success, with Author Rebekah Palmer wrapped at the feedback she received from kids and families alike.

Wellingtonians can now get their Raygun fix by checking out Pop Up, a very cool local gallery here in the Capital. They are our first Wellington stockist of the Dr Grordbort’s range – check out their site and online store here.

Talking of the Capital, the city has been abuzz with excitement as the WOW Wearable Art Awards™ take place. Richard Taylor was on hand to present the Weta Award to the entry that best fused film and costume. Congratulations from the Weta team to David Walker from Alaska, who designed a beautiful piece with wooden shutters, titled Prehistoric Princess.

That’s it from the Weta team for now – we’ll keep you posted!

If you have any feedback or suggestions, please feel free to contact our friendly Customer Services team on info@wetanz.co.nz and drop us a line.

Weta Limited . Po Box 15-208 . Miramar . Wellington . New Zealand
Email: info@wetanz.co.nz . Website: www.wetanz.com
Click below to buy from one of our ranges of exclusive collectibles:

Southern Californian hobbits, elves, rangers and even orcses, or simply Tolkien fans, are invited to join in the merriment of TORN’s Annual Baggins Birhday Picnic which will take place on Sunday Sept 23 starting at noon in Griffith Park near the Merry-Go-Round. Costumes are encouraged, and prizes will be bestowed upon the most beautifully or most creatively attired lads and ladies. There will also be games, trivia, and maybe even the traditional impersonation contest (if partygoers are up to it). And wonderful prizes to be won. The picnic is potluck so bring something to share. RSVP to Arwen@theonering.net.


From south: Take the 5 North to the Griffith Park exit. At the first stop sign you reach, turn right onto Crystal Springs Drive. When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the “Merry Go Round.” Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don’t worry, there’s plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round.

From north: Take the 5 south to Los Feliz Blvd West. At the intersection with Riverside Drive, turn right. Riverside Drive will turn into Crystal Springs Drive.When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the “Merry Go Round.” Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don’t worry, there’s plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round.

From Hollywood/LA: Take Western Ave north. It will turn into Los Feliz Blvd. When you reach the intersection with Riverside Drive, turn left. Riverside Drive will turn into Crystal Springs Drive. When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the “Merry Go Round.” Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don’t worry, there’s plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round.

Celebriel’s Dragon*Con Report: Making “The Hobbit” Happen
TORn’s panel, “Making The Hobbit Happen,” presented by staffer Larry Curtis and co-founders Chris Pirotta (Calisuri) and Bill Thomas (Corvar) was a centerpiece of Tolkien Track programming, given on Saturday and again on Monday in the Hilton’s International Ballroom.

They took us through the Power Point presentation now posted here, which reviews the complicated publication and film rights history of Tolkien’s works, especially as they relate to “The Hobbit.” Critical dates in this history to keep in mind are:

1969: Tolkien sells the film rights to his works to United Artists/MGM.

1970: UA/MGM sells the film rights to Saul Zaentz for $10,000.

1997: Saul Zaentz sells the film rights to Miramax (Harvey and Weinstein).

1998: New Line purchases rights from Miramax.

2004: In its annual April Fool’s Day parody article, TORn announced that Paul Anderson (director of “Alien Versus Predator” and “Resident Evil,” among others) was set to direct “The Hobbit,” generating lots of attention from fans, studios, and attorneys alike.

TORn also launched the Help the Hobbit Happen web site in support of the film.

A petition signature campaign was led by Lynn Machie (LithQ) to rally fan support. (See this site) On September 22, 2006 the petition, over 2000 pages containing over 62,000 signatures, was delivered to MGM and New Line Cinema.

March 2005: Peter Jackson initiates suit against New Line, requesting a audit of the books of The Fellowship of the Ring. Often, this type of court is settled out of court, but Peter felt strongly, and continues to feel, that there were important underlying issues which needed to be brought to light about film production and revenue accounting.

November 2006: In an open letter to TORn, Peter Jackson releases the project, providing background on his reasons why. (Read the letter here) In the same month, Saul Zaentz reaffirms his support of Peter Jackson as director of The Hobbit.

January 2007: Bob Shaye essentially blacklists Peter Jackson from his studio, and Peter responds on Aint It Cool News.

July 2007: Bob Shaye begins to soften his stance. While Sam Raimi continues to be mentioned as director, discussions suggest that Peter Jackson could exec produce, thereby able to bring his vision for “The Hobbit” to the screen while remaining free to develop other projects.

Discussion at the panel was very lively. The TORn presenters outlined the possibility of “The Hobbit” as two films: one a straightforward adaptation of “The Hobbit” and the second a bridge film that would carry the story over to “The Fellowship of the Ring.” There is material in Tolkien’s works that could be developed in a second film, remaining true to the characters and the spirit of the books. For example, the death of Frodo’s parents and the development of his relationship with Bilbo, the White Council, Gandalf’s earlier activities in Middle Earth, Gollum’s earlier life and history, back story on other members of the fellowship, on the relationship of Aragorn and Arwen, on Aragorn’s personal history, travels and time spent in Gondor and Rohan, and much more.

Presenters and audience had a great deal of fun speculating about characters, cast, and locations for “The Hobbit.” For example:

Bilbo: probably not Ian Holm due to age/infirmity, nor Elijah Wood.

Gandalf and Gollum: No reason Ian McKellan could not return to play Gandalf and Andy Serkis to play Gollum, dates and contracts permitting.

Gloin: John Rhys Davies could play Gloin, father of Gimli, though he’s expressed a strong desire not to wear the makeup and prostheses for the dwarf costume again.

Dwarfs: Some of the dwarfs would be fully developed as characters, like Thorin and Balin, but most would remain unnamed, or at least undeveloped, in the film.

Elrond: Hugo Weaving could reprise his role as Elrond. Another suggestion offered was David Bowie.

Bard: Bard will be the high profile hunk of “The Hobbit.” Who should play him? Clive Owen? Gerald Butler? Hugh Jackman?

Smaug: Smaug the dragon will most likely be a WETAhttp://www.wetanz.com Digital creation, but as with Gollum, the voice of the actor playing him is critical to establishing character. Alan Rickman? Jeremy Irons? Morgan Freeman? Edward James Olmos? Michael Clarke Duncan?

Locations: The New Zealand public park used for Rivendell and the private land used for Hobbiton could be most likely be used again.

Props and Sets: A great many of the props and set materials still exist, though they are the property of New Line Cinema.

There was discussion consensus at the panel that “The Hobbit” will be made, as one or two films, simply because of the huge revenue potential from theatrical release, DVD sales and rentals, and associated merchandising/licensing. “Star Wars” (6 films) and “Harry Potter” (5 so far, 2 more to come) are only two franchises that demonstrate fans aren’t satisfied with just three films. The financial potential is big enough to bring together industry people to get the project funded, produced, and distributed, regardless of personal feelings or history. Even the rights issues can be resolved with the promise of a big enough financial pie to split.

At the end of the session, various prizes were given away, including a copy of Kristen Thompson’s “The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood.” Larry, Chris, and Bill also encouraged fans to stay active in the fan community and to let Dragon*Con organizers know how important, valuable, and enjoyable the Tolkien Track is. (Staff and email links here)

A Google search of “The Hobbit + Movie” yields over 1.1 million results, with only some relating to the 1977 Rankin-Bass film. Studios, licensors, suppliers and manufacturers, producers and directors, cast, crew, the nation of New Zealand, and especially fans worldwide stand to win if the film/s come about. So let’s “Make the Hobbit Happen!”