Tolkien + food
I did some illustrations for an article about Iliana Regan, a chef who prepares fandom inspired dinners. This is Bilbo Baggins and the impromptu feast he prepares for a party of dwarves and Gandalf the wizard.
And this is Sam Gamgee preparing a rabbit stew for Frodo Baggins in Ithilien while Gollum looks on, upset because he prefers his meat uncooked.
Food is such an important part of these books, so I was really delighted to do these pieces! It’s a way for the narrative to shift from high fantasy to more grounded, prosaic matters. It puts the reader inside the mind of the characters - hobbits, of course, are always thinking about food, and Tolkien is very specific about what they’re eating and how they feel about it.
Food scenes are also a respite from the grind of the journey. Films are like a roller coaster ride - they’re all about escalating and maintaining tension, keeping you engaged and excited. The rabbit stew scene is in the films, but the hobbits are captured before they get to enjoy it - the forward motion of the plot can’t be allowed to stall for too long. Whereas novels are like a long journey. They have so much more narrative space to fill. It’s such a relief to read the chapters where the characters escape their troubles for a few minutes or hours to prepare and eat a meal.
Here’s my process for these illustrations! It’s not the kind of work I do very often - comics and illustrations are parallel art forms but different in so many ways - and I really enjoyed this project.
(did anyone watch the Rings of Power? Thoughts??? I have been avoiding all reviews and hot takes but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it! Disa, Poppy, and Nori have my entire heart, and the depiction of sailing to Valinor really got me.)