Saturday, July 20, 2013

Origins of the (animated) Hobbit

Despite the success of Peter Jackson's in-progress live action Hobbit trilogy, many still fondly remember the Rankin/Bass animated version, which aired on NBC in 1977 and is readily available on DVD today. What's less well-known is that the original treatment of Bilbo was based on work by RISD grad (and later faculty member) Lester Abrams, whose illustrations of Bilbo and Gollum for an excerpt of The Hobbit published in the February 1974 issue of the Children's Digest must have caught their attention. Abrams ended up doing all the original concept art for the animated version, and was also responsible for suggesting to Rankin and Bass that they use the art of Arthur Rackham -- one of his personal favorites -- as a reference. This cover, which predates the animated version by three years, is little-known today, but quite striking in the context of how it shaped Bilbo and Gollum for the boomer generation. More details here on my Tolkien course blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment