Archive for the 'Lord of the Rings, The' Category



The Lord of the Rings Towels (Tolkien Enterprises/Cannon Mills, 1978)

LOTR Towels

LOTR Towels-2

By the same company that made the comforter. The second towel looks pretty faded. Possibly the inspiration for the 1982 AD&D Beach Towels?

(Images via eBay)

The Lord of the Rings Action Figures Ads, 1979

LOTR Ad-2

Great ad dug up by Phil Reed at BattleGrip. New Jersey’s Heroes World was a king of mail-order marketing in the 1970s, and their catalogs, now collector’s items, featured art by the nearby Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.

I found another Heroes World ad below, courtesy of Tom Heroes. These are the only two I’ve seen. As I said in my original post about the ill-fated Knickerbocker line, it had almost no advertising push in a very crowded action figure market. The figures themselves appear to be pretty high quality, however.

LOTR Ad

Tales of Fantasy by Larry Todd (Troubador Press, 1975) (Part Two)

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TOF BC

In part one I give some background on the book and publisher Malcolm Whyte explains how it came to be. The material Todd covers is a very eclectic mix of ancient myth, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, pulp, children’s literature, and even poetry (Lewis Carroll, whose work was a drug culture keystone). Many of the works represented, including Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle, had recently seen new editions as part of Ballantine’s popular Adult Fantasy series.

‘Come to Middle Earth’ Posters (1967, 1969)

LOTR Middle Earth 1967

The first poster is by Clifford Charles Seeley for Berkeley Bonaparte, 1967. Seeley did several rock posters in the same style, including Jefferson Airplane and Hendrix. The identification of Haight Ashbury with Middle Earth was popular among residents at the time.

The second poster (below) displays Barbara Remington art from the first authorized paperback edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s also a 1968 jigsaw puzzle featuring all of the images from the trilogy side by side.

The “Come to Middle Earth” and “Frodo Lives!” memes were employed (or co-opted, depending on your point of view) during the extensive marketing campaign for Bakshi’s 1978 animated feature.

LOTR Middle 1969

`Gandalf the Grey’ Poster (Berkeley Bonaparte, 1967)

Gandalf Poster 1967

“Then will you see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked” is what Gandalf says in The Fellowship of the Ring after Bilbo refuses to give up the ring, eventually threatening the wizard by touching the hilt of his sword.

The artist is Mark Kanen, who did several designs for Berkeley Bonaparte, a poster art company and head shop founded in San Francisco in 1967.

(Image via Hake’s)

The Aragorn Ballroom Orcestra’s Theme from The Lord of the Rings (1978)

LOTR LP 1978

You’ve heard of space disco, but… epic fantasy disco? Compare the funky version to Leonard Rosenman’s original score below.

Note the play on words in the “artist” name: Aragorn Ballroom, as opposed to Aragon Ballroom, a famous Chicago venue; and, in lieu of `orchestra’, we have ‘orc-estra’.

(Album cover image via Ripping Yarns)

The Lord of the Rings Comforter (Tolkien Enterprises/Cannon Mills, 1978)

LOTR Comfort 1978-1

LOTR Comfort 1978-2

LOTR Comfort 1978-3

LOTR Comfort 1978-4

LOTR Comfort 1978-5

LOTR Comfort 1978-6

LOTR Comfort 1978-7

It’s real, and it’s spectacular. The copyright date is 1978 by Tolkien Enterprises, and the manufacturer is Royal Family by Cannon, which I’m pretty sure refers to the American textile company Cannon Mills (1888 – 2003).

The comforter (twin sized) doesn’t appear in the 1979 LOTR/Tolkien Enterprises catalog, and this is the first time I’ve seen one, so there can’t be too many floating around.

Klipsch Promotional T-Shirt Featuring Frodo (Circa 1978)

LOTR Klipsch 1978

LOTR Klipsch 1978-2

A very peculiar item produced and sold (and/or given away) by Klipsch, a loudspeaker company based in the Midwest. We see front and back views of Frodo holding the (fiery?) ring, straddling a Lascala model speaker. `Bullshit’ is written on the back of the shirt—in Dwarven runes!—an apparent reference to the outlandish claims of Klipsch’s overpriced competitors.

The shirt was even modeled in Klipsch promotional materials at the time, as seen below. Wear one of these while driving a Honda Hobbit and I’ll give you a Lord of the Rings key ring to round out the trilogy.

LOTR Klipsch 1978-4

(Images via eBay and the Klipsch forums)

Starlog #45 (April, 1981): ‘The Magic and Mystery of Excalibur’

Starlog 45 1981-1

Starlog 45 1981-2

Boorman gets the kid gloves here, especially where Exorcist II: The Heretic is concerned—an awful, unwatchable movie. (Excalibur is not much better, to be honest: a beautifully shot film ravaged by pretentiousness.) Again we have the Lord of the RingsStar Wars connection:

Boorman describes his approach to the film in terms straight out of the Ring Trilogy […]

The British-born director sees Star Wars, in particular, as subject to Arthurian interpretation. “Think of Obi-Wan Kenobi as Merlin, Luke Skywalker as young Arthur, Han Solo as Lancelot and Princess Leia as Queen Guinevere.”

Read the whole issue at the Internet Archive.

John Boorman and the Making of Excalibur: ‘The Biggest Selling Game in America is Something Called Dragons and Dungeons’

Sarasota HT 5-6-81-1

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Tolkien sold the film rights to The Lord of the Rings—for $250,000—to United Artists in 1969. That same year, John Boorman pitched Excalibur to UA, but studio execs wanted him to do a live-action Lord of the Rings film instead. He agreed, and he and Rospo Pallenberg (co-writer on Excalibur) wrote a script. By the time it was finished—two years later—management at UA had shifted, and the project got dropped. (Boorman’s script, which is housed at the Tolkien Collection at Marquette University, features a sex scene between Frodo and Galadriel, along with “gratuitous nudity and rebirthing rituals.”)

There are a number of choice Boorman quotes in the article, from the May 6, 1981 edition of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

I’ve been trying to get `Excalibur’ made since 1969. But it took a surge of interest in fantasy in the past few years – in books, magazines and games, as well as in movies – before I could get financing […]

There is tremendous interest in the subject,” said Boorman. “Fantasy magazines have proliferated. The biggest selling game in America is something called ‘Dragons and Dungeons’ [sic]. This surge of interest helped me get `Excalibur’ made […]

‘Star Wars’ put fantasy back in fashion. And if you look closely at that film’s literary heritage, it’s really another variation of the Arthurian legends […]

One of the things the film [Excalibur] is about is the attempt to transcend the primitive-predatory nature of man, the attempt to build peace and a great society, the attempt to transcend materialism and to move into the world of ideals […]

Compare the last quote to L. Sprague de Camp’s 1980 description (in Omni) of the “heroic fantasy” genre:

Heroic fantasy is alive and flourishing. The more complex, cerebral, and restrained the civilization, the more men’s minds return to a dream of earlier times, when issues of good and evil were clear-cut and a man could venture out with his sword, conquer his enemies, and win a kingdom and a beautiful woman. The idea is compelling, even though such an age probably never existed.

All in all, the article is significant. It shows (1) the enormous cultural impact of Star Wars and D&D; (2) how closely Star Wars and D&D are related—they both descend from Tolkien, whose work descends primarily from the Arthurian mythos; and (3) the direct link between the fantasy (or heroic fantasy, or sword and sorcery) genre and the American counterculture, which dates from the 1965 paperback editions of The Lord of the Rings.

George Romero’s Knightriders (1981), a very good movie about the counterculture’s failure to “build peace and a great society,” is also highlighted in the article.

The Peter Yates film called “Sorcery” in the article was released as Krull in 1983. It was originally titled Dungeons and Dragons.


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