Over on Wraith Land, Thomas Kelley has just published the first part of an extended interview with noted Tolkien artist Jay Johnstone.
Jay’s artwork employs techniques from religious manuscripts, icon and fresco illustrations from the medieval period, and uses a variety of mediums — oils, watercolors, acrylics, egg tempera with gold powder and leaf. Striking detail and traditional techniques give the impression of artwork that could have been produced in the real Middle-earth.
Kelley delves into the goals underpinning Johnstone’s unique approach, and some of the insights into Tolkien’s worksthat Johnstone himself has gained out of it. If the interesection of Tolkien, art, psychology and spirituality is your thing, you’ll find this a very interesting read indeed.
Johnstone dreams in Tolkien. And through him and his artwork we can perceive anew what it would mean to live in Middle-earth and to create art inside it. While Tolkien himself made “sub-creation” the purview of his own characters, from the creation of the Silmarils by Fëanor to the writing of the Red Book of Westmarch by the hobbits, Johnstone imagines what it would be like to be a painter inside Tolkien’s world, and then paints that world and its history. Reminiscent of the religious medieval icon paintings by Duccio di Buoninsegna and Fra Angelico, Johnstone’s paintings work not just like time portals but dream portals.
If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.
The author of A Song of Ice and Fire (I live in hope that there will be more books!), George R. R. Martin spoke to The Independent during the Santa Fe Literary Festival.
During the chat, he spoke dismissively of the supposed rivalry between The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon (TLOTR: ROP is out from September 2 on Prime video, while HOTD debuts on August 21 on HBO).
The battle for fantasy supremacy. It’s The Rings of Power versus House of the Dragon — who will win? I don’t know why they always have to do that.
I hope both shows succeed.
Acknowledging his own competitiveness and desire to hopefully “succeed more”, he nonetheless declared that the existence of both was good for fantasy and science fiction and that he wants to see more such shows on television.
Over 6,400 people have backed his The Fellowship of the Ring deck of luxury playing cards in just under a month. It’s now 25 times more successful than its initial goal.
“I knew it would succeed just from the love of the IP and my followers, but I had NO idea it was going to be as successful as it has been,” Jackson told TheOneRing.net.
Robinson says that he’s worked as a professional illustrator for more than 20 years on big brand names and franchises ranging from Star Wars and Marvel Comics to Disney and Coca-Cola, but he’s always loved The Lord of the Rings. His favorite artists working in Tolkien’s milieu includes John Howe and Alen Lee, but he also loves the work of Donato Giancola and the woodcuts of Tolkien Society best artwork category award-winner Tomas Hijo.
“Like many others, the richness of the story and characters within Professor Tolkien’s work drew me in. I also always found it fascinating that I could never seem to be at the bottom of the well of creativity in any of his works or worlds,” Jackson says.
He says that the first significant piece of Tolkien artwork he made was a map of Middle-earth.
“I did this over 20 years ago, during my undergraduate years at the University of North Texas. The map still hangs in my office today.”
However, his interest in playing cards dates from around 2013. He says he only fell into it by accident while working in the videogame industry in Los Angeles.
“I did my first playing card Kickstarter to earn some extra money. It went viral, and I haven’t looked back. I was able to start designing playing cards full-time,” Jackson says. This was the basis for the company he founded — Kings Wild Project.
He says that ever since he started Kings Wild Project, a Lord of the Rings deck has been on his bucket list, and he immediately began researching the requirements for an official license from Middle-earth Enterprises. One of the prerequisites was that his business needed to have been operating in its industry sector for a minimum of five years.
Jackson says the day after Kings Wild Project reached the five-year-mark, he contacted Middle-earth Enterprise requesting to become a licensee to design The Lord of the Rings-themed playing card decks.
He typically begins his creative process with a lot of reference gathering, looking for materials and art styles to draw inspiration from.
“Then I start sketching a character or court card. I usually start with the King of Spades. I will work on one court card or back design until I feel I ‘find it’, and continue the same process with the other characters and cards,” Jackson says. “So many things I deliberately DON’T plan… It is as if the story is being retold for the first time as each new character is revealed during the creative process.”
Jackson says he typically doesn’t need to iterate designs very often.
“But I went through a massive restart with [the deck for] The Lord of the Rings. I had almost finished almost half the deck when I wanted to try something different. I ended up going with the new direction but, in the process, created two decks that have the same character lineup but are done in two very different styles.”
His favorite cards from his Fellowship deck are the Glorfindel card for the deck that’s now up on Kickstarter, and the Frodo card from his initial “scrapped” deck. He says he plans to return to that alternative deck at a later date.
Plans don’t stop there. He also has a deck themed on The Two Towers tentatively expected to launch on Kickstarter in late Fall, and one for The Return of the King in early 2023. He hopes to produce a deck themed on The Hobbit in the Spring of 2023. He told TheOneRing.net that he was also recently granted a license to produce two-sided The Lord of the Rings jigsaw puzzles. Look out for a Fellowship of the Ring puzzle in time for the holiday season this year.
Readers can visit Kings Wild Project to find out more about his playing card projects, including his Fellowship of the Ring-themed deck. At the time of publishing, the Kickstarter for The Fellowship of the Ring deck has 50 hours before it closes. You can check it out here.
Maybe it’s the time zones, but I really thought that John Howe’s interview with Empire about The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was coming out tomorrow. Instead, if you’re keen (and an Apple News subscriber), you can read it right now over on Apple News.
The interview expands on the teaser Empire provided the other day, that “this is not the Middle-earth you remember”. Instead, it’s a story of a different time (the Second Age), when Middle-earth was visually and politically a different place.
Howe can’t elaborate on what that tale may be, but does hint that it takes place against a backdrop of “Sauron’s rise to power, the forging of the Rings of Power and the epic tale of [human city] Númenor” — all events with important repercussions for Middle-earth.
“I was convinced the Hobbit trilogy would be the last we’d see of Middle-earth on film,” Howe admits, explaining that it took an exciting new approach to Lord Of The Rings lore to unlock a story worth telling.
IGN reports that, during an interview at the 2022 Calgary Expo, Sean Astin confided that the “preview” for The Rings of Power gave him “the chills”.
“I for one am excited,” he said. “I saw the preview for it, and it gave me chills. It looked like they got it. I’ve been saying the whole time, they’re gonna do it right. There’s no way Amazon is gonna pay almost a billion dollars for a franchise just to screw it up.”
Sean Astin at Calgary Expo 2022
(Ed: it’s a bit ambigiguous, but we’re pretty sure Sean means the teaser trailer and that, unlike, the Vanity Fair folks, he has not seen the initial episodes.)
Astin, who was being interviewed by bestselling author Sam Maggs, said he hopes the Amazon TV series will bring new fans and renewed awareness to Peter Jackson’s films. And he added that, even if the series didn’t prove a hit, he still supported the attempt and “people with being determined and trying and expressing themselves.”
“I feel that way about all remakes. You have classics that you think ‘please don’t touch that,’ but the truth is, nothing can ever take it away.”
IGN writer Cian Maher spoke with Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd as part of their seven show re-union tour of North America.
As well as sharing a few of the foursome’s many reminisces of their moments together on the set of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, Maher observes that even now they share a close bond and friendship.
“Billy said this thing recently about the scene of second breakfast, where we stop and Aragorn is saying, ‘What’s going on?’ and we have the second breakfast thing,” he says. “I didn’t remember this, but Billy is totally right and jogged my memory. That was an incredibly rushed scene because it started flash-snowing [Wood clarifies that this was in November, so this shouldn’t have happened in the Southern Hemisphere]. And Pete basically came over to us and was like, ‘You’ve got about 45 minutes to an hour to get this and go, otherwise we’re in real trouble with all of our gear.’ And we got what ended up being a real amazing moment in the film, but it was fast.”
“It was meant to be like a half day’s work,” says Wood. “It was so fast.”
Boyd explains that as an actor, that kind of hastiness usually leads to disappointment. Astin, meanwhile, recalls being concerned that maybe not everyone cared about a scene the hobbits were all excited about because it wasn’t strictly necessary for the film.
“But then it becomes a scene that a lot of people talk about,” says Boyd. “And it was honestly done in like, an hour. And then we’re sitting on washing machines drinking whiskey like… what just happened?