by Arnie Fenner
Since Mr. Giancola hasn't mentioned it yet, I'll take the opportunity to. Last year Underwood Books released Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth
, a collection of the gorgeous paintings and drawings that Donato has been creating (some as commissions, but many on his on time and dime) for a number of years. Not only has he been scrupulously faithful to Tolkien's descriptions in his works, not only does Donato share his reasons and methodology for the scenes he's chosen to illustrate, not only do John Howe and Ted Nasmith pitch in to comment on the art, but, let's face it, $25 for a full color hardcover is a bargain-and-a-half these days, particularly for one this attractive.
But if you're a hardcore book collector, someone who prizes limited editions and who wants something unique, I thought I'd point out that there is a 26-copy leather-bound edition of Middle-Earth available. It's naturally signed by Donato and comes enclosed in a particularly lush laser-etched wooden box; as if the limitation isn't enough to make it desirable, Donato has taken it a giant step beyond by doing an original watercolor pencil drawing on special tipped-in paper in each copy (shown here are some of the drawings he's already done for the books). 26 copies, 26 totally different originals: limited editions don't get get much more unique than one-of-a-kind. Having been lucky enough to see many of Donato's original drawings, I know I want one. Which means now that there are only 25 available to collectors...or is that 24? Or 23...?
(Priced at $500 @, interested collectors should contact Donato
via his website to find out how to reserve their copy.)