Thinking about yesterday’s release of the trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey prompted me to pull off the shelf one of the best book adaptations I have read.  And so we’ll start with a year-long series on Hobbit-y things to do while waiting for next December’s film release.

For starters, reading the original J.R.R. Tolkien books of The Hobbit and the three The Lord of the Rings books would be a good plan.

Absent that, The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic, is a stunning graphic novel book, both for conquering such a large volume of story and for creating some of the best fantasy art to appear in any work.  The book was adapted by Charles Dixon with Sean Deming, but the notable effort is from illustrator David Wenzel.  Originally published by Eclipse Books in three volumes in 1989 and 1990, years before Peter Jackson’s movies, The Hobbit graphic novel is a stunningly well-done companion to the Lord of the Rings films, even if Jackson hadn’t moved forward with the new Hobbit movie.

The Lord of the Rings has never otherwise been adapted in comic book form, and so it is a rare pleasure to encounter a visual adaptation of The Hobbit that is known for being so faithful to the original novel.  The current softcover printing was created by painter Donato Giancola, who we met this year at Comic-Con in San Diego:

Donato Giancola showing us a print of his cover for The Hobbit graphic novel at Comic-Con in July 2011

There is probably not a better way than this graphic novel to get “reluctant readers” excited about reading, and to get them to delve into the world of the Tolkien stories.

Considering this following page is probably the “least” of the offerings in the book…

Why the “least”?  Only because there is so much content to cram into this 134 page edition, even though every major plot point is deftly handled, much is left to be told to us, as opposed to being shown to us–this page is one of the few left to pile in a lot of information.  But compare that to more sweeping visual treats such as this:

… or this:

Not unexpectedly, several scenes in the new trailer appear to come straight from this adaptation (although there are only so many ways to visually depict some of the classic scenes from the original work).

Compared to other storytellings out there this work is worth reading–I have bought it as a gift for relatives over the years who like both high fantasy and comics.

Check out artist David Wenzel’s website to purchase prints of selected scenes from the graphic novel.

To learn more about professor and artist Donato Giancola, check out his website here.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com