Friday, July 8, 2011

Helm's Deep

Recently I received an email from Michael Kaluta, one of the great illustrators of our time, in response to a much earlier post about his artwork that did double duty for J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard properties. Along with Kaluta's gracious compliments, a lovely surprise were a couple of jpeg attachments.

One was this magnificent and epic preliminary drawing of the battle at Helm's Deep:

Above image © Michael Wm Kaluta

For comparison, I'm including the above scan from a Tolkien calendar that was kindly sent over some time ago by Christophe Jannin, a French illustrator, living in New Zealand.

Quoting an excerpt from Kaluta's email (with his permission):

(Below) is a jpeg of that full Conan cover (that was originally supposed to be the center-spread for a proposed Tolkien calendar in 1979-1980 that didn't happen, SO, I adapted it for that Marvel wrap-around cover . . . ) The Tolkien folks printed the Tolkien part the way I asked them to in the 1994 calendar: Conan gone, image reversed, but the book Realms of Tolkien published the entire art: thank goodness . . .

Above, a scan sent by Kaluta. Below, the printed wraparound cover.

Pierre D reminds us of a good interview with Kaluta at:


Pierre D said...

WOW ! Thomas that's amazing !!
Thanks you sooo much for this, I'm in shock.

I also own one of those Calendars, bought it way back when. And that one always had a different feel, you could see something was wrong with the picture, even being a teen Tolkien buff completely ignorant of Mr. Kaluta's work.

And then a few months ago I found out about that Conan cover,

And now this !!

Thank you SO much !

Do you know this interview of Mr. Kaluta ?
He speaks a bit about the Tolkien Calendar and explains how it came to be.

And thanks again and always for the blog, it's a huge eye-opener for me.


Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Pierre--Thank you, I love comments with exclamation points! Yes, that interview is helpful in understanding the history of the work.

3 cheers and more for Kaluta!

Eric said...

What a fascinating history of that piece, it's interesting to see how the use of the work shifted.

And of course Kaluta art is always incredible. We were so spoiled back in 2009 when we had both Madame Xanadu and Starstruck coming out at the same time.

Just realizing how hard it is for me to say something coherent about the work; it's so wonderful almost all I can do is name the work and go "wow". If a picture is worth a thousand words on average, these are WAY more valuable.

Enough rambling for now; I'm off to dig up my brace of Shadow hardcovers to re-read...

E.G.Palmer said...

Heh, awesome! I have that Conan. It's also really nice that Mr Kaluta took the time to share his work and the background on it. Three cheers for Kaluta!

Here's some extra exclamation points for you, Thom, ( !!!!!!!!!!!), I've got plenty!

Taranaich said...

I've always maintained there are more similarities between Conan and The Lord of the Rings than a first glance might suggest, and this just gives fuel to the fire (in a totally coincidental manner!)

Daniel [] said...

So, do folk here remember the first time that they saw work by Kaluta? I sure do. In my case, it was when he started doing the Shadow. He's got much better since I saw that work, but even then I was awed.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

First time I saw Kaluta's work was in a pro-zine—a black and white wordless 4 pages or so, emulating an asian fable. Was it something about a fox maiden or such? I traded off the magazine long ago, before I ever heard of a 'scanner'.

I would truly love to see those pages of art again.

Eric said...

While I'm sure it's not the first time I saw his work or heard his name by a long shot, I think the first time I was really aware of Kaluta's work was his covers for Books of Magic. I was born in '71 and too young for the Shadow to register, and somehow missed his stuff as I got older. His Books of Magic cover run came at a time when I was finally able to appreciate it. Amazing work.

Duane Spurlock said...

Can't remember where I first saw Kaluta's work: in DC Comics' THE SHADOW or as a backup, SPAWN OF FRANKENSTEIN (back up series in THE PHANTOM STRANGER, I think). Always a treat.