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Rest In Peace Tim Hildebrandt

Hey folks. Quint here. If you are a geek, the Brothers Hildebrandt have influenced your life. Before Alan Lee and John Howe, Tim and Greg Hildebrandt were the go-to guys for Tolkien artwork. Their fantasy work was very childlike and innocent, which fit with many of Tolkien's themes. If you didn't grow up a Tolkien geek, then perhaps you know their comic book work. I collected the Marvel Masterpiece card set by Joe Jusko when I was young and eagerly picked up the second line of Masterpiece cards, with all the art done by The Hildebrandt Bros. I personally preferred Jusko's realistic style, but I'd be lying if I didn't collect every single one of the more fantasy inspired art cards.

If you don't know them from their Marvel work, then I guarantee you'll know them for their STAR WARS work, having designed one of the many posters for STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE.

Tim Hildebrandt died Sunday of complications due to diabetes at the age of 67. The Bros' official site is here, if you wish to look over their art. I've found some of my favorite pieces they've done and will post them below. Tim's eye for colors and design will be missed.

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  • June 13, 2006, 8:45 p.m. CST


    by glodene

    I remember when they used to do most of the paperback covers for Ballantine's fantasy imprint Del Rey, suchas The Sword of Shanara and their portfolio books had some real cool Tolkien interpretations also.

  • June 13, 2006, 8:52 p.m. CST


    by readingwriter

    The Star Wars painting was the first piece of modern SF imagery, as opposed to old book covers from years before, that inspired me as a kid. Often when famous people die you feel a little bummed out, but this is like a young member of the Star Wars cast dying. His and Greg's work was so uplifting to the young me. So much SF these days is dark, but their work represented the upbeat, exciting, hopeful side of SF and especially fantasy. His art will be missed, and now I treasure my copies of the Bros. Hildebrandt collection (from Ballantine, I think0 even more.

  • June 13, 2006, 8:52 p.m. CST

    tolkien artwork is cool, man

    by white owl

    this is sad news, man

  • June 13, 2006, 8:55 p.m. CST

    A loss

    by Manos

    I still have a Tolkien calender I got in 1975 by the Brothers Hildebrant. This is a loss indeed. My sympathies to his family.

  • June 13, 2006, 8:56 p.m. CST

    Tim who now?

    by Little Beavis

    just sayin...

  • June 13, 2006, 8:59 p.m. CST

    Fantastic artist

    by George Newman

  • June 13, 2006, 9 p.m. CST


    by flossygomez

    These are the illustrators that got me painting in acrylic. I dearly loved their calendars and waited with drooling anticipation during those Christmases of long ago! Damnit! They gave us their own storybook version of Tolkiens story. Can you imagine how much better the Bakshi film would have been with this kind of visual style at the helm for inspiration?

  • June 13, 2006, 9:04 p.m. CST

    great LOTR pics:

    by George Newman

  • June 13, 2006, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Words fail me.

    by Shaz_bot80

    Now, I'm depressed. The traditional illustrators are a dying breed. Tim Hildebrant will be truly missed.

  • June 13, 2006, 9:18 p.m. CST

    Aw Man....

    by cerebulon

    That royally sucks. For years I've had their art books and have poured over the pages. In fact, I've never read tolkien; but I loved his world from what I saw of it through Tim's imaginings of it. I can't quite describe the emotion that filled me when I sat watching the Lord of the Rings movie, and those two giant statues with their arms outstretched appeared. I never knew what that was from - but I had seen the Hildebrant version of it - it was my favorite of his paintings. To have seen that painting since I was a kid... brought to life was absolutely fantastic and unbelieveable. I will miss him.

  • June 13, 2006, 9:22 p.m. CST

    It's Not Just the Tolkien Art...

    by Bones

    ...or the Star Wars, of Urshurak, or The TSR Realms of Wonder calendars, or the Kids's everything. It is the amazing poster art for The Secret of NIMH, The heightened sense of wonder, the NC Wyeth-inspired lush painting style--and their great sense of color... When they worked separately, they had their own interests, there own personalities: Tim had his fantasy art and book covers in the 80's and 90's Greg had his illustrated storybook series of children's classics and later his amazing retro pin-up art. Each have their own strength--but when they worked together it was pure magic. I am a fantasy/sci-fi illustrator and being in my early thirties, that star wars painting was the beginning of everything for me--and later as I did fantasy art--their sense of color kept creeping up. I'll have to stop by Greg's table at Comic Con and thank him for all the magic. Jeff Carlisle

  • June 13, 2006, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Damn shame

    by covenant

    We all gotta go sometime; just a damn shame when a great one leaves us. A genuine talent is taken from us, and Brad Pitt still walks the earth. Now you know why I'm an agnostic. The pics supplied above are some fine examples, but only begin to scratch the surface. Frazetta, Howe, and Bros. Hildebrandt...the defining masters of fantasy art. (Larry Elmore: Honorable Mention).

  • June 13, 2006, 9:35 p.m. CST

    Thanks Mr Hildebrandt

    by prisonrulez

    Thanks for inspiring a child to dream beyond his imagination...thanks for creating visions of worlds for that child to escape to...thanks for putting faces to that child's favorite characters...and on those dark, lonely nights when that child sat alone in his bedroom, afraid to upset the angry step-father down in the living room, thank you for the poster that hung on that child's know the one....the one that gave that child hope...and the courage to face the future...and travel to there and back again! Thank you from the bottom of my heart...You will be missed!!

  • June 13, 2006, 9:39 p.m. CST

    I was sorry to hear about Tim's passing

    by stvnhthr

    That Star Wars poster was the first movie poster I ever owned and hung on my bedroom door. To me that image always reminds me of home.

  • June 13, 2006, 9:41 p.m. CST

    So how do two people work on a painting together?

    by eg4190

    Don't know much about these guys, although that Star Wars one-sheet has always been my favorite piece of Star Wars-related art. Was it a Lennon-McCartney thing, where they took combined credit for individual work, or did one pencil and the other paint, or did they actually take turns at the canvas?

  • June 13, 2006, 9:56 p.m. CST

    Hildebrandt's Secret Of NIMH poster was awesome.

    by Osmosis Jones

    Always sad to hear of a great one passing away. :o(

  • June 13, 2006, 9:57 p.m. CST


    by Bones

    It depended on the project, I believe. One would do backgrounds, the other foreground characters, one would do the left--the other right...and finally they would alternate paintings sometimes and then both go over the details and finishes. They were twins, so they already had a kind of symbiotic sense of communication--and they developed their art style together, so any differences would be subtle...

  • June 13, 2006, 10:04 p.m. CST

    I'd forgotten...

    by covenant

    ...that that iconic Star Wars poster also graced my bedroom wall at one time. My aunt bought it for me, along with Luke, Artoo, and Kenobi figures (the funky ones with the sticklike lightsabers).

  • June 13, 2006, 10:09 p.m. CST

    So sad.

    by ILK

    I loved their use of "magic hour" light in their paintings, much like Maxfield Parrish's work in some ways. But their art blew me away when I was a kid. It seemed like it mas almost impossible art, like they were somehow magical. It's horrible that something like Diabetes can still take someone so young.

  • June 13, 2006, 10:10 p.m. CST

    That third piece was featured on Colbert last week.

    by Lenny Nero

    ...and that's all I got.

  • June 13, 2006, 10:37 p.m. CST

    Wow, this work really shows me something

    by Doc_Strange

    How crappy and artificial photoshop artwork is. All these works are vibrant and the colors are great. I know a bit about the Hildebrant bros. work and am very sorry to see yet another OG illustrator pass on. As someone above mentioned, traditional illustrators are a dying breed which is sad because it's true. I think people these days are too lazy to just pick up a paint brush and lay it on canvas when you have computers doing it for you now. But looking at these works, you can really tell that it takes some true skill to put out work like this and that is something that can never be replicated electronically.

  • June 13, 2006, 10:39 p.m. CST

    Fuck you, life.

    by chickychow

    This proves it, life sucks. Hey Life, why don't you go dip your head in a barrel of shit, you cockslappin' fartsucker.

  • June 13, 2006, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Lenny Nero, I was thinking the same thing.

    by DOGSOUP

    That's the Balrog, not Satan

  • June 13, 2006, 11 p.m. CST

    Godspeed Tim

    by ewokstew

    One of the best darn fantasy illustrators of the 20th century. Brilliant.

  • June 13, 2006, 11:27 p.m. CST

    His 9/11 work is really touching

    by RowanM

    I love my art and that stuff is awesome. R.I.P.

  • June 14, 2006, 12:45 a.m. CST

    My sympathies are where they should be

    by OurManInMontr

    There goes a talented fellow. Big, big eye for color. Vivid. Like, POW! All right, now I'm sad.

  • June 14, 2006, 12:53 a.m. CST


    by Darth Thoth

    Man, this is the 2nd death I'm dealing with today. Sad, sad news. Thank you Tim for your imagination and for helping fuel ours. May you rest in peace. God bless your soul.

  • June 14, 2006, 1:07 a.m. CST

    Rest In Piece GY

    by John T. Williams

    It's a shame that all of you have forgotten about the composer of 2001. He passed away too.

  • June 14, 2006, 1:17 a.m. CST

    Wow, these guys really influenced me

    by Photoman

    I remember collecting their Tolkien calendars. I have "The Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt" also. Someone asked how two people could work on the same painting? Well, they were brothers and they happened to have the exact same brush if they were on a deadline one would sleep while the other worked. Or in the case of the big Tolkien painting of the Fellowship, Greg would start on one side of the canvas while another while Tim started on the other side and they'd meet in the middle. And remember, this was back in the days long before computer graphics when artists actually used paint and canvas and brushes. This is truly sad sad news and I will miss Tim. His art of course will live on.

  • June 14, 2006, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Boo, Death!! Boooo!!

    by Horseflesh

    Bad choice, Grim Reaper! I used to work in a place with a Hildebrandt on the wall and I must have stopped to look at it every time I walked by. Great stuff.

  • June 14, 2006, 1:27 a.m. CST

    Looking on their website..

    by Darth Thoth

    Man I can't get over the richness of the colors they use in their paintings. Their images almost literally burst forth from the page. Great stuff.

  • June 14, 2006, 3:26 a.m. CST

    that's arguably the classic star wars poster

    by newc0253

    peace, dude.

  • June 14, 2006, 4:11 a.m. CST


    by Gabba-UK

    What the talkbacker said about the modern trend of photoshopping vs traditional poster art is so true. Are you listening Hollywood? Quite often the poster for a film is the first contact you have with it and photoshop work just doesn't grab you by the balls and tells you that you must see this movie!! I for one am convinced it was those Hildebrant posters outside cinema's, along with word of mouth that made Star Wars what it is. A great talent has left us today. RIP Mr. Hildebrant.

  • June 14, 2006, 4:22 a.m. CST

    Rest oh artist

    by cagirl

    You'll be missed.

  • June 14, 2006, 4:42 a.m. CST

    Artiste. Go home.

    by turk128

    RIP, you were a great artist, sticking with the old school to show the new kids just how they used to do it.

  • June 14, 2006, 6:18 a.m. CST

    Comic book geeks just lost a good friend

    by wombart

    Like the man said, tim hildebrandt is responsible for influencing alot of lives across the spectrum, and I hope his family can take comfort in knowing this over the coming days....Thanks for the great artwork tim, you'll be greatly missed

  • June 14, 2006, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Sad news, indeed

    by Miami Mofo

    RIP, Mr. Hildebrandt. I always loved the Tolkien calendars that you and your brother illustrated. ***Diabetes, the silent killer, really sucks!!! It's scary how it almost seems like it's becoming an epidemic. I can't believe how many people I know who have been diagnosed with it the past few years. Maybe it's my age.

  • June 14, 2006, 6:42 a.m. CST


    by Larry Jay

    I'm an old geek. I admit it. My study is stuffed with comics and toys i've collected on my journey. I retired from the Navy and finally had a chance to buy a home after 20 years of transfers and deployments to the dark corners of the ocean. One of the things that I wanted was my own bar. So I built one. When it was completed I looked at the bartop,It was so bare. And then I had a revelation. I scrambled through the boxes of cards and comics till I found my Hildebrandt Marvel Masterpiece collection and set each of the cards, in order, along the top of the bar and covered them with plexiglass. It came out beautifully, not so much as my own craftsmanship as the sheer power and beauty of the Hildebrants art. My bar is one of a kind. If only we all had the skill and passion to be able to create such works of art. ALL HAIL TIM HILDEBRANT!!!

  • June 14, 2006, 7:18 a.m. CST


    by BranMakMorn

    Artists who greatly contributed to the many facets of the graphic storytelling world. Very sad news.

  • June 14, 2006, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Sad, indeed

    by Moonwatcher

    Before there was Peter Jackson, there was the annual Tolkien calendar from the Hildebrandt's, which gave me the visuals I needed whenever I went back to reading the books. Thanks, Tim - you were an inspiration. And thanks, too, to Ligeti, for that wonderfully weird soundtrack to the best SF movie ever made.

  • June 14, 2006, 8:46 a.m. CST

    I've got "The Wizard of Oz" illustrated by the H bros.

    by Doctor_Sin

    Their art has always been my favorite illustrative style. Bye bye, Tim.

  • June 14, 2006, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Master of color.

    by Billyeveryteen

    Really nice guy, and great teacher. That Star Wars sheet, IS Star Wars. This is the end, my beautiful friend.

  • June 14, 2006, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Thanks and RIP

    by Ingeld

    This will always be for me the definitive illustration of a Tolkien elf and dwarve. If the link doesn't work, it is the calandar cover for th 1977 calandar, Legolas and Gimili in Fanghorn. RIP Tim, and the 15 year old kid in 1977 who was starved for any images of Tolkien's world really thanks you.

  • June 14, 2006, 9:17 a.m. CST

    I have that first Star Wars poster signed

    by BibFortuna

    By both of the brothers. Very sad.

  • June 14, 2006, 10:15 a.m. CST


    by m2298

  • June 14, 2006, 10:49 a.m. CST

    More about Tim Hildebrandt and the Star Wars poster

    by jca2112

  • June 14, 2006, 11:53 a.m. CST

    That really is THE Star Wars poster

    by rev_skarekroe

    But I hate the Fellowship illustration. Why is Legolas wearing cream-colored tights? Why is Aragorn dressed like a swashbuckler from an Errol Flynn movie?

  • June 14, 2006, 12:16 p.m. CST

    Aw man, what a bummer!

    by morGoth

    Though I

  • June 14, 2006, 12:31 p.m. CST

    More on my signed poster

    by BibFortuna

    It's the European version that was used for the original Star Wars release... it says STAR WARS, with the subhead "A New Hope" which was not used in American posters. I will treasure it now more than ever.

  • June 14, 2006, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Yeah, that's THE poster

    by Kentucky Colonel

    I've got it hanging in my basement, framed, alongside the misty Darth Vader helmet "Coming to your galaxy..." TESB poster and the "one-handed lightsaber" ROTJ posters. I hope he's doing handbills for heaven's house band...Jimi & Randy & Stevie Ray on Guitars, Moon & Bonham on Drums, Entwistle on Bass, Ray on the keys and Lennon/Morrison/Presley/David Ruffin (the Temptations, you moron)/Van Zandt/Bon Scott & Janis Joplin all taking turns on the mic. A Bill Grahm production.

  • June 14, 2006, 4:14 p.m. CST

    Any1 remember their story "Urshurak"?

    by aTwenty7thLetter

    It definitely owed a lot to the LOTR trilogy but it was a good read. Fantastic illustrations too. I loved it as a kid and always thought it would make a great movie.

  • June 14, 2006, 7:48 p.m. CST

    A stellar talent gone too soon.

    by Rendell

    That Star Wars poster is my childhood, my inspiration to start drawing. God help us when its Ralph McQ's turn to leave the stage...

  • June 15, 2006, 8:09 a.m. CST


    by Ingeld

    I read Urshurak; I loved the illustrations, but the story was derivative and the writing was a bit banal. I enjoyed it as a quick read, but that was about it. I remember reading that the Hildebrandts had hoped to make a movie out of it or even an animated television series.

  • June 15, 2006, 9:24 p.m. CST

    re: Olorin

    by Ingeld

    I agree wholeheartedly. I had almost forgotten about that painting. When the Hildebrandts were off, they were far off, Merry and Pippin looking like 5 year old boys in the fellowship painting, orcs looking like alligators, but when they were on they were amazing--the unexpected party; old man willow, the gift of Galadriel--the one in the 1977 calendar; the grey havens, smaug; Theoden, grima and eowyn, the balrog; farmer maggot. Did I miss any great ones?

  • June 16, 2006, 5:34 a.m. CST

    Link to the Colbert satan/balrog bit...

    by morGoth ** Thanks to Miami Mofo for the link...enjoy Tolkenoids, Stephen really nailed it. I laughed as hard watching this as the MTV Gollum award. Oh, and thanks to CNN for being so cluless...otherwise we'd never have gotten this absolute gem {[:^)