Friday, September 09, 2011

...And Rankin/Bass Begat GW Orcs?

John@Plastic Legions mentioned the 1977 Hobbit cartoon created by Rankin/Bass in a recent post, and it inspired me to post something I've been thinking for a while.

What was the artistic interpretation of Orcs prior to Warhammer? I know Warhammer Orcs aren't Middle Earth Orcs, but we can agree that there is definite artistic lineage between the two. So let's take a look at a few pieces of art separate from the GW interpretation.

Captured by Orcs
The Hildebrandt brothers had an animal-snouted impression of Orcs. This reminds me a lot of the artwork for Orcs in the Dungeons and Dragons books I had in the early 80's.
The Great Goblin
John Howe's Goblin King interpretation is more human looking, and is closer in line with the artwork for Grom the Paunch than anything else I've seen in GW terms. The goblins to the lower right look somewhat in line with earlier edition GW goblin artwork I've seen.

Rankin/Bass Goblin

Rankin/Bass Goblin King
Rankin/Bass took a very different approach that suited their animation style better. The design of these creatures fascinated me as a child, especially since I hadn't read Tolkien but loved fantasy. That said, what they did with Gollum's design was.... regrettable. (But, oh my, Brother Theodore's voice acting of Gollum is a thing of pure beauty.)

And now we come to the current look of GW Orcs, represented by the artwork from the last army book, the image on the Warboss box and an Orc Shaman mini.
7th ed. GW Orcs & Goblins book cover

GW Orc Warboss box

GW Orc Shaman

They certainly seem much more in line with the Rankin/Bass imagery than any of the others I found. What artwork depicting Tolkien Orcs have you run across, and how similar to GW Orcs is it?

3 comments:

  1. Your blog entry is from more than a year ago, but here I am, October of 2012, reading it. I am old enough (!) to remember seeing the Rankin/Bass production of The Hobbit on television back in the 70s, and was fascinated by it— since then I have blossomed (?) into a full-fledged Tolkien master (a dubious title, to be sure, but whatever). And thoughts of goblins (and orcs) are never far from my mind.

    I am certain that Tolkien was horrified about the Rankin/Bass artistic take on goblins. To his discredit, however, he did very, VERY little to describe them in any of his literature beforehand. If he had done so, perhaps R/B would have taken less artistic license. As it is, we got what we got— and though many will wince as I say it, I like them! I like the Rankin/Bass version of goblins, and I think that they will remain the definitive artistic type for these creatures for many decades to come. I am about to try to make one myself out of thermoplastic clay, with big tusks and all. It is going to be grand!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your blog entry is from more than a year ago, but here I am, October of 2012, reading it. I am old enough (!) to remember seeing the Rankin/Bass production of The Hobbit on television back in the 70s, and was fascinated by it— since then I have blossomed (?) into a full-fledged Tolkien master (a dubious title, to be sure, but whatever). And thoughts of goblins (and orcs) are never far from my mind.

    I am certain that Tolkien was horrified about the Rankin/Bass artistic take on goblins. To his discredit, however, he did very, VERY little to describe them in any of his literature beforehand. If he had done so, perhaps R/B would have taken less artistic license. As it is, we got what we got— and though many will wince as I say it, I like them! I like the Rankin/Bass version of goblins, and I think that they will remain the definitive artistic type for these creatures for many decades to come. I am about to try to make one myself out of thermoplastic clay, with big tusks and all. It is going to be grand!

    ReplyDelete
  3. DOUBLE POST COMBO! FLAWLESS VICTORY!

    Seriously though, thanks for the comment. I'd love to see your sculpt when it's done... shoot me a link please!

    ReplyDelete