The Universe of Star Wars and the world of Middle-earth were both hugely impacted by the artistry of the Brothers Hildebrandt in the mid 1970’s.
“My brother Tim and I created the first ‘Lord of the Rings‘ calendar in 1976 and that brought us international fame — but when the ‘Star Wars‘ poster hit in 1977, it really blew us up, the attention to that piece has never let up.”
Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, who are twins, dominated the world of Middle-earth in the mid 1970s with three consecutive Tolkien Calendars from 1976, 1977, 1978, but they also introduced pop culture to Star Wars!
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi nearly upon us, I thought it a good time to take a look back at the work of the Brothers Hildebrandt and their impact on these two mega fantasy realms.
The Brothers Hildebrandt made their first mark in the world of high fantasy, with three Tolkien calendars that were published between 1976 and 1978. This was at the height of Tolkien fandom during the 1970s, when Tolkien books were everywhere and he had become a household name. At this time long before the first personal computer, the internet or smart phones, the Tolkien Calendars were a big thing! Fans waited all year to get their hands on the next one, because besides the books covers and a select few posters, these were the only source for visualizing Middle-earth. One can’t understate how different the world of fandom was back then, compared to the plethora of information and visuals we have today.
The visual impact of these new calendars compared to what had come before, had a huge impact on fans. The calendars were bold, colorful and filled from cover to cover with a consistent vision of Middle-earth. It was these calendars, that put Greg and Tim Hildebrandt on the map in the world of illustration and publishing.
Some love these images of Middle-earth and other not so much. When the paintings and illustrations by Alan Lee, John Howe and Ted Nasmith came out in the 1980s and 90s, the work of the Hidebrandt’s began to look a bit nostalgic. However, at the time they blew up the world of Tolkien.
The Brothers Hildebrandt were also responsible for presenting the fledgling Star Wars, with an image to give fans their first glimpse into the universe created by George Lucas. This classic poster was used to promote the film, before it’s release and has become an enduring part of the Star Wars legendarium. Many don’t realize that it was Greg Hildebrandt who created this iconic piece of cinema history, which still resonates with fans today. Below is the first version of the illustration submitted to Lucasfilm, but before it went to print George Lucas made two small changes…
In a post by Geoff Bouche on Hero Complex, he sare quotes from Greg Hidebrandt as he recalls his experience with the iconic The Lord of the Rings calendars and the Star Wars poster.
“My brother Tim and I created the first ‘Lord of the Rings‘ calendar in 1976 and that brought us international fame — but when the ‘Star Wars‘ poster hit in 1977, it really blew us up,” the 71-year-old said. “The attention to that piece has never let up.”
Later in talking about the creation of the Star Wars poster he says…
“Incredibly, the first version of it — without the droids — was created in a feverish, nonstop effort over just 36 hours! George Lucas asked for the droids to be added and for our signatures to be larger. We made those changes at the ad agency, and off it went!”
Below you can see the finished poster design that now include R2-D2 and C-3PO. It’s hard to quantify the powerful effect this image had on the mind of fans. Sadly Tim Hildebrandt, twin brother to Greg Hildebrandt passed away in 2006… but Greg carries on.
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