Another great day! The third autograph session here in Wellington at the Weta Cave in about a month! First, the designer of all the bad guys in LOTR (generally speaking), John Howe. Next, Guillermo del Toro, who will lead us all back to Middle-earth one more time, and finally, Alan Lee, the designer of all things good under the Middle-earth sun. One of his favourite places in Lord Of The Rings was Rivendell, a place I now have the pleasure of visiting on a daily basis. I don't think I'm speaking out of place when I say that Alan Lee's designs hold a very special place in most LOTR fan's hearts, whether they know his name or not.
I was a bit rushed off my feet getting the day organised, what with picking up my good friend Mark Fry from the railway station, dropping my son off at soccer practice before the game, getting to Alan Lee's session in time before the crowds showed up, and getting back in time to watch the second half of the soccer game. Still, it all worked out in the end, quite nicely in fact. As a good parent, I'm supposed to say that the best part of the day was the soccer game, of course. Rain and (almost) sub-zero temperatures or not.
So call me a bad parent - the game was a close second, but it was great meeting Alan Lee (again). These meetings are always too short but he'll be here for another year or so, so I fully expect (read: hope) to meet with him again before he leaves. Just in case though, I'd brought along my first edition Children Of Hurin, as my LOTR and Hobbit books already had his signature in them.
Also, I brought along another special item - the original hand painted sign of Rivendell that was up at Kaitoke Regional Park, before they were replaced by the new boring ones, the official Department Of Conservation routed timber signs. If you have a copy of Ian Brodie's LOTR Location Guidebook (not the extended one), my sign is on page 50. Keep in mind it's about 2 metes long.
The sign came to me via a kind forest ranger who mentioned it was getting replaced, and the old one was probably going to make it onto the bonfire after the DOC barbecue later that weekend, some three years ago. I rescued it, with kind permission of the ranger. I like to think of the coffee and muffins I brought him as my appreciation, rather than a distraction ruse while I ran off. Either way, it's mine now :)
I had it signed by Richard Taylor the same year, at a Wellington book signing event at Dymocks Bookshop. Richard laughed out loud when he saw it, and asked me somewhat redundantly where I'd got it from ("Rivendell, fairly obviously"...).
Alan had the same question today, but was also more than happy to sign it.
There's a few other signatures that belong on it - I'd love to add Hugo Weaving to it, and perhaps a few other designers. Daniel Falconer springs to mind (Daniel, if you're reading this, I'd love an invite! The staff at the Cave know how to get a hold of me). Ideally Peter Jackson, of course, but he's not well known for attending public events, especially Wellington public events (Peter, a private event would work for me - name a time and place, and I'll be there with coffee and muffins!) :)
Eventually, I'd like to own a house so I can call it Rivendell, and stick the signs outside (the signed one inside, obviously!)
As an aside, leave me a comment if you've ever named a house, or a pet (or a child!) after something from Professor Tolkien's worlds... I know Carlos from the Weta Cave has two cats name Merry and Pippin, for instance... anyone else?
- Jack M.
PS - if you're wondering why the arrow in my sign points right, and the one in the park points left - there were multiple signs. Yes, I have the others too. Feel free to make me an offer for the other two :)