Sunday, February 22, 2015

Colouring Book Theatre: Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings (1979), Whitman (Editor's note Today's submission provided and authored by Kurt, who has graciously us provided a glimpse into this neat book- Take it away Kurt!)

            I have very nostalgic feelings for Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings.  It reminds me of the Age of the Video Store – that popcorn-scented archive of categorized racks of colorful, terrifying, sometimes lurid shelves of potential thrills and wonder.  In the Kid’s Corner, amongst the predominantly white clamshell cases featuring Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and compilations of mainstream cartoons, were what I considered the “more mature” animated movies: titles like Rankin-Bass’ The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn or Don Bluth’s The Secret of N.I.M.H. These were cartoons that were thematically darker and stylistically unique, and to my young mind, Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings was serious stuff.  Despite its shortcomings, I still consider it an ambitious and inspiring piece of art that honestly attempted to adapt a fantasy masterpiece that had previously been abandoned as unfilmable. 

            Another passion of mine was collecting coloring books, often buying a particular book for a single image.  I had a huge collection that, sadly, was destroyed by renters.  Over the years, I have gradually replaced some of my favorites and found new books that I never knew existed.  I recently ran across this Lord of the Rings coloring book by Whitman and was excited to see Bakshi’s vision in bold black and white line drawings.

            Unfortunately, what I ended up with was a lot of boring scenes and compositions with poorly drawn, often off-model pictures of the Fellowship walking. 

Let’s start with the cover (LOTR Cover): Frodo “has the Power!” while Gandalf photobombs.

Grab your crayons and still suit and join me after the jump

LOTR coloring book

Gollum, who lives in the land of Dairy Queen, is disgusted by the subpar grafitti that covers his rock. Orcs have no sense of craftsmanship! 
LOTR coloring book
A major complaint of mine is that there is so much potential for action-packed fighting scenes involving orcs, Ringwraiths, even a Balrog – and the artist chooses to draw a table in the Prancing Pony – WITHOUT ANY CHARACTERS! Wow! Nothing inspires a child’s imagination like coloring featureless furniture.

LOTR coloring book

>I would bet money that this image appeared on a van in the ‘70s! This is actually a cool image of an interesting character which was featured on other merchandise, like T-shirts. If the Ringwraith were drawn just a little larger!

Lord of the Rings coloring book

Again, kids love to paint cracks in cliff faces. Although I think I can see Boba Fett peering from behind a branch…

Lord of the Rings coloring book

I was always terrified of the orcs in Bakshi’s Rings; I think that the rotoscoping effectively gave them that visual dissonance – a “wrongness” – that implied a lot of the detail and left their appearance to the viewer’s imagination. This is what the coloring book artist came up with. Yep. The Abbott and Costello of orcs…

Lord of the Rings coloring book

I had a big crush on Bakshi’s Galadriel. She was so pretty and exuded calm and confidence. Here, she looks like a generic Disney princess, delighted by Frodo’s abdominal pain.

Batman coloring book

“Boromir tries to take the Ring.” Or is hitting Frodo up for spare change, judging by his sheepish stance and Frodo’s peeved expression.

Batman coloring book

This is about as much action as any page contains. The orcs don’t look like they’re attacking Boromir so much as they look like they want him to know how much his drinking hurts them. I know it’s the Horn of Gondor and all, but the scene looks like an intervention gone wrong!.

Batman coloring book

Here we see the terrible toll of alcoholism as Aragorn is horrified upon discovering Boromir’s prematurely bloated corpse. Poke it with a stick. See what happens.

“So ends the first part of the history of the War of the Ring.” Sadly, there was no second – not until Rankin-Bass realized that “Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way,” that is!

Thanks again Kurt! If you have a submission for colouring book theatre drop me a line at brick *at*!

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