The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic
by J.R.R. Tolkien; Adapted by Charles Dixon and Sean Deming
Cover Artist: Cover: Didier Graffert; Illustrations by David Wenzel
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ballantine Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345445605
Date: 25 September 2012 List Price $20.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The graphic novel of The Hobbit showed up in our offices just about the time I was searching my bookshelves for my paperback copy to reread before seeing the movie. Perfect timing and I never did find my paperback copy.
The story was adapted by Charles Dixon, who did an excellent job of whittling the story down to the essentials, so that the artist, David Wenzel, could bring that text to life.
It's been years since I read The Hobbit (reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy when those movies began to be released though). As far as the story goes, this version hit all the beats that I remember from my original reading so many years ago. And having now seen the movie, it matches that story closely up to where Jackson ended Part 1 of the film -- the adventurers delivered by the eagles from the Orcs after Bilbo gains the ring.
The artwork is full color throughout. I've seen so much artwork that has come out since Peter Jackson began doing the movies that at first it was a bit jarring to see this interpretation -- even though these were originally done in 1989 and I may even have read this at the time. The dwarves reminded me of the short, dumpy Disney ones only with more character (note found my book and the art here matches the descriptions in the original text).
My main complaint of the book is the explanatory text (as opposed to speech) was difficult to read without a magnifying lens until the background became lighter in color about midway thorough the book. At first much of it was in blocks that were lightly colored, but the background colors darkened it to make the contrast between colored background and black text not enough even for my corrected vision. So, take a flip thorough the pages when you're in the bookstore or where you can check out the illustrations.
It's a lovely volume and tells the story with action and flare. A great way to interest young people who prefer manga or graphic novels to print versions; a taste of the classics.
I enjoyed this rendition of the story and highly recommend it for new readers of the story and for fans who enjoy trying out a new expression of the story.