Friday, January 28, 2011

Troll Country

Very few mythical creatures can capture the imagination like those from the nordic tradition. Children the world over can tell you what a troll is, or describe a fairie, without ever opening a text book, or being tested on what Gods control whom. The mysterious creatures of Norse mythology are not sweet little critters like those in Aesop's fables. They are murderous, calculating, ravenous creatures more likely to steal your children than to help you out, and interactions with them mostly result in people wandering around in a fog of confusion in a deep dark forest. While much of this mythology has been replaced by the more macho, modern updates in Lord of the Rings series, a glimmer of the world of trolls and fairies can be greatly appreciated in the work of early 20th century illustrator, John Bauer. His work captures a world of dark winding forest roads with fleeting light, inhabited by creatures born of the imagination. His most notable work, "Among Gnomes and Trolls", while relatively unknown, served as the basis for Jim Hensen's Dark Crystal, and it's obvious. His attention to detail and meticulous articulation of light and texture are breath-taking. It is unfornate that he was able to produce so little work, as his life was cut short in the wreck of the ship Per Brahe, which he ironically took instead of the train, which he thought unsafe. Go figure.

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