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<   No. 750   2005-02-14   >

Comic #750

1 Shakespeare [typing]: "Tom Bombadil?" echoed Merry, "Never heard of him." He took the beers back to the table, where Pippin gawked with wide eyes.
2 Shakespeare [typing]: "What's that?" queried Pippin, expectantly. "This my friend, is a pint," replied Merry. "They come in pints?" It looked to be a quiet evening.
3 Shakespeare [typing]: Suddenly, two black riders burst in through the door, brandishing gleaming swords of polished steel!
4 Shakespeare: {to self} Good lord. I've turned into Raymond Chandler.

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Raymond Chandler was a writer of crime fiction, of the "detective" genre. He is also known for his advice to other writers, including the classic piece of advice to prevent a story from bogging down and becoming boring:

When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.

2014-03-22 Rerun commentary: The opening line here is of course a reference to the fact that Tom Bombadil - a significant character in Tolkien's novels - was left out of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films. And that Will is writing a novelisation of the films, not a direct reinterpretation of the novels.

I thought leaving Tom Bombadil out of the films was a good move (I simply found him annoying in the book), even before I heard Jackson and screenplay co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens's explanation for why they did it. If you haven't heard their reasoning, it runs as follows:

The One Ring has just been introduced and explained as this enormously powerful artefact that will inevitably corrupt the mind of anyone who so much as touches it. Gandalf himself refuses to touch it, lest he be corrupted. So the stage is set for the drama of the Ring and how fantastically dangerous it is.

And then the very first person Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin meet on the road is Tom Bombadil, who picks up the Ring and laughs at it - it has absolutely no effect on him whatsoever. Way to defuse the set-up.

You may or may not agree, but it makes sense to me as a reason.

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