I attended the recent 3rd Conference on Middle-earth (in Westford, Massachusetts) where I listened to talks on blond elf imagery and debates on how to adapt The Hobbit into one movie or two movies (and the wisdom of that latter endeavor).
I also wandered over to a vendor table manned by an older gentleman named Ed Meskys, who has been involved in science fiction and fantasy fandom since the early days. In addition to selling and giving away old copies of “The Tolkien Journal” and “Niekas,” the magazine he used to publish, he had stacks of old book jackets and other mysterious items. Meskys had been cleaning out his garage, he told me, and wanted his old treasures to see the light of day again. “I want to get them into the hands of people who will read and appreciate them,” he wrote in a recent issue of his e-fanzine “The View From Entropy Hall.” Most of the stuff was a buck or two each, or free.
Among the ephemera were these yellowed, dusty, wonderful, terrible, Lord of the Rings stickers. It was the end of the day, and Meskys gave me his last sheets of stickers for free.
I later asked him where they came from.
“When I was president of the Tolkien Society of America 1967-1972,” Meskys wrote in an email, “I received promotional materials from a number of places. All I remember was that the stickers came from Australia. I was sighted at the time and was not impressed with them. They were a little too unrealistic for my taste.” Though Meskys is now blind, clearly the image of them still made an impression in his memory.
So the Nine (yes, there are nine stickers in all) have come to light again. I’ve done my best to clean them up without destroying them. As you’ll see here (BELOW), the artist has taken some liberties with Tolkien’s vision. Legolas looks more like a crime-fighting Robin than elf, Aragorn wields an ax, Tom Bombadil is sporting some groovy bellbottoms, and Frodo resembles a pig on crack. My favorite might be Gandalf “Keep on Truckin’” the Gray.
Turn on, tune in, and drop out. Or, drop the ring, or these stickers, back into the fiery chasm whence they came. Dig?
[Any further information on the artist or the origin of these stickers is welcome. To subscribe to “The View From Entropy Hall,” which Meskys ends by email only, contact him at “edmeskys” at “roadrunner” dot “com”]
Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of the award-winning book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, his travel memoir investigation into fantasy and gaming subcultures the Huffington Post called “part personal odyssey, part medieval mid-life crisis, and part wide-ranging survey of all things freaky and geeky," National Public Radio described as "Lord of the Rings meets Jack Kerouac’s On the Road" and Wired.com proclaimed, “For anyone who has ever spent time within imaginary realms, the book will speak volumes.” Follow Ethan's adventures at http://www.fantasyfreaksbook.com.