Today's post by Brad of Crushing Skulls on the power (or lack thereof) of cover art reminded me of one of my own johnny-come-lately discoveries: that my favorite Middle Earth art, the most evocative and mood-capturing, was the art drawn by the author himself.
I grew up with the striking 1973 edition Ballantine covers (that seem to be getting the most thumbs up on Brad's post so far). Those tattered paperbacks miraculously have survived each zig and zag of my life in the last three decades.
Before running this blog, truth be told, I paid little attention to the art credits of most of my books, even the treasured ones like those. So when I did pull out the editions a few months ago on a slow day to check the credit I have to admit it was a complete surprise.
Tracking down a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of his paintings, sketches, maps, fake manuscript fragments, runic calligraphy etc. were quite all quite good and fascinating.
Tolkien in our circles gets a little less of his due--presumably as a healthy corrective to the under-emphasis on the game's pulp fantasy inspirations--but damn if I am not consistently impressed by the breadth and scope of his talent as a well-rounded world-builder, even after all these years.
A nice collection of his illustrations can be found here.