Today we salute Lord of the Rings illustrator John Howe.
On one of the special features discs on the Lord of the Rings collections, there is a discussion on the design of the Fell Beasts. Originally John Howe had designed the Fell Beasts with large, menacing spikes on their elbows. One of the production designers who had studied biology pointed out, “you don’t do that, there’s no animal in nature that does anything like that because it doesn’t serve any function.”
Howe, in telling the story, said that he replied, “but it’s cool.”
It looks as if the Fell Beasts in the films lost their elbow-spikes, and I admit that the spikes may have genuinely been dangerous to the animal itself while flying. Still, the spikes did look cool! Sometimes when designing fantasy creatures, you have to decide where to pick your battles as far as believability goes.
I drew my tribute Fell Beast with the elbow spikes. HAIL JOHN HOWE!