HR Giger: Alien Monster IV; Atrophied remnant
of the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog in Moria

Leading from   
HR Giger: Alien Monster IV
JRR Tolkien

Alien (Winged) / Alien Monster IV by H.R.Giger
a) Balrog hunting in Giger-land
Yes it might seem like a joke. Alien Monster IV amongst the many things that went into the picture, perhaps it also shows atrophied remnants of battle between Gandalf and the Balrog in the mines Moria. Giger liked the Lord of the Rings book enough to name a couple of his paintings after the title and he did a whole series of paintings named Mordor after a place name in the book. None of the Mordor painting series shown so far have anything one can interpret as being a Balrog in them. One might like to imagine that there were various elements of the actual novel that might have inspired him, and looking at his various interests it might be normal for someone to assume that he would have been interested in conveying something of the Balrog character in at least one of his paintings, and if he had, it might not be so obvious.

Lord of the Rings: The Balrog by Joan Wyatt (1970s)

Delville's Treasures of Satan and Joan Wyatt's Balrog, looking almost in the Balrog painting as if the humans have been replaced by the flames and the material wrapped around the devil's arm has been turned into the Balrog's fiery mane. The birds head and neck on the far right have been transformed into Gandalf forth his sword

Joan Wyatt's Balrog and Giger's Alien Monster IV

b) Concerning Balrogs
They were supposed to be Maiar corrupted by Melkor during the creation of Ardan and cloaked themselves in shadow and flame and carried whips and swords. These things became demons of might. However , in the War of Wrath that ended the First Age, most of the Balrogs were destroyed, although some, managed to escape and hide in "caverns at the roots of the earth"

However to paint one accurately by the book, all one is going to have is a shadowy form that has wide wings of shadow, a formless shadow enveloped roughly human sized body, with a fiery main, fiery eyes and its weapons would be the flaming sword and the fiery whip. There had been no drawings by Tolkien of the things to refer to.  People often represented the thing as a typical horned demon with large bat wings although the thing could not fly.

Joan Wyatt, a British artist known for her Tolkien illustrations in the 1970s, painted the demon as a giant with a main of fire and wide bat wings, but this seems rather enormous in size comparing to the book description. It was published in a 1979 book"A Middle-Earth Album: Paintings by Joan Wyatt Inspired by Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and curiously is looks as if it might be loosely inspired by Delville's Treasures of Satan once again

There existed a pewter figurine of a Balrog from the Ral Partha lead figure Fantasy Line that came out in late 1976 for the Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts. In the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, 1977, a drawing was supplied by David C Sutherland III for a demon roughly based on the Balrog, called a Balor. ( In November 1978, Ralph Bakshi released the animated film Lord of the Rings that featured a Balrog that resembled a large lion man with large wings with a single thonged whip and a flaming sword.

The Ral Partha Fantasy Line Balrog, (late 1976?) (

Balor by  David C Sutherland III (Source, Monster Manual, 1977)

c) Noticing possible Atrophied remnants of Gandalf vs the Balrog in Alien Monster IV
On 15th July, 2016, I looked again at Alien Monster IV which appears to show what might look like a large biomechanoid with wings, a long neck and a bird beak coming out of shaft in the ground, and pulling an "alien egg" out of an "egg tube" while near its fingers is the skin of the creature shed off at the chestburster stage. I thought about the snaking form in the background and then the long tendril like fingers of the hand seen in the painting and thought about the flaming sword and then looking at the hand with long tendril like fingers, I wondered if that was somehow a whip that's also a flail. The Daddy Longlegs spider is often associated with its flailing limbs and I wondered if the word association came along there with the flail. There is the strange upright blade like tail things that stands up in the air and has a glowing worm, this would be the remains of the idea of Gandalf's glowing staff. Perhaps there are further ways to perceive elements of Gandalf still in the painting, but still need to be decided upon, perhaps somewhere within the two organic pipes running along the left. Another connction point along the pathway, Lemurian Train Bomb by Jack Kirby appears to be a work it referenced and well there we havw, Lemuria and Moria, the word association. And so the surrounding biomechanic environment becomes a suggestion of the minds Moria and the place of the bridge of Khazad-Dum over a deep abyss. 

Also, taking notice of Joan Wyatt's painting,  it seems as if Giger somehow saw it, and inverted the ground so that the chasm became the ground and the ground became the chasm, and the bridge became inverted so it became the guttering. Meanwhile the ribbing along the walls has become incorporated into the painting as well. This however would have meant Giger saw the painting before the book was published.

Gandalf Vs The Balrog in Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, 1978

d) In relation to the other reference material for the artwork
At the same time it appears that Giger was taking the painting in the direction of the Dali's "Daddy Longlegs of the Evening - Hope!" and the idea that it referenced Delville's Treasures of Satan, and there are the other artworks that connect with these paintings, such Giger's Necronom IX, James Gleeson's Galaxy, Jack Kirby's Lemurian Train Bomb, and Dan O'Bannon's early alien concept art inspired by Necronom IX being used as reference by Giger and so he thought at the same time of adding the Balrog fight idea into it but he wouldn't make it too specific.

Presumably actual concept art for Gandalf vs The Balrog for 2001 movie
"Lord of the Rings"

No comments:

Post a Comment