“I have seen the future, and it sucks.
There, I said it. Someone had to. Send your complaints to City Hall.
There’s no sugar-coating this. Movie posters suck these days. They’re going to suck even more tomorrow. And as we shuck and jive (and text and Facebook) ever onward into the digital future, movie posters will just keep doggedly and willfully sucking all the more. It’s a headlong progression of suckage, a symptom of the mass-produced, everything-by-committee mindset of our culture. The sad thing about movie posters sucking is that many people no longer even notice, or don’t care. Well, I notice. I care. I bet you do, too. If you’ve ever given more than a passing glance to a movie poster – if you were transfixed or inspired or delighted by one – I bet you care plenty.”
– Frank Darabont
1. THE ART OF DREW STRUZAN – By Drew Struzan & David J. Schow
The above quote is taken from the introduction to Titan Books superb new volume of work from the master, Drew Struzan. In just a few sentences this describes just how good the work is and why it’s such a tragedy that there seems to be no equal in movie poster art today. I saw this book advertised at this years London Book Fair and assumed it would be a simple re-printing of the work shown in the earlier title ‘Oeuvre’. Titan didn’t have a copy on show so I was expecting to see a lot of familiar work. “Wow! Incredible!” I thought to myself on finally receiving my copy. Almost the entire book is made up of sketches, work in progress and un-used poster art that I’d never seen before! Did you know that he did a set of posters for Mad Max 3 and Waterworld? I didn’t. All with a running commentary from Drew himself. The minute this arrived on my doorstep I read it cover to cover. I clearly like this book a lot.
2. COVER RUN – THE DC COMICS ART OF ADAM HUGHES
I’ve been a fan of Adam Hughes comic art for years now and always wondered why there was no book to be found of his collected work. Well, finally here it is and what a great collection too. Best known for his renditions of Wonder Woman & Catwoman, this book thankfully doesn’t just focus on his ‘girls & boobs’ illustrations and includes a wide-spread of everything he has to offer. I’ve always been impressed by his inking style and the realism of expression he achieves in his characters. There’s lots of sketch book stuff in here too which is always nice to see.
3. CLINT EASTWOOD – ICON – By David Frangioni
A career spanning collection of poster art that helped lift Clint Eastwood to his mythical status. Of particular interest are the bold paintings for his early westerns, but it’s also interesting to see how one actor/director has been marketed over five decades.
4. ART OF THE MODERN MOVIE POSTER – By Judith Salavetz, Spencer Drate, Sam Sarowitz & Dave Kehr.
More movie posters in this eclectic mix of designs and styles from around the world. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more complete look at the art of the movie poster. An excellent reference book, but make sure you’ve got a strong shelf. It’s a big one!
5. MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN – Illustrated by Bernie Wrighston.
Originally published in 1983, Dark Horse has re-published this lavish hardback edition which really does Bernie Wrightson’s stunning pen and ink work justice. Stylistically perfect for Mary Shelley’s classic horror tale, the illustrations drip with morbid atmosphere and remain a benchmark for how illustrated stories such as this should be treated. If you’ll only ever read one version of Frankenstein make it this one.
6. THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO – By Blake Bell
A comic book artist who hit the heights of fame co-creating Spiderman (with Stan Lee) and later gave up the mainstream to develop mind-bending tales such as MR. A. Steve Ditko’s story is an interesting one of an artist determined to stick to his own independent vision. I’m particularly fond of his work for Warren’s ‘Eerrie’ comics, but all of his work holds a unique elegance that always stands out from the crowd.
7. DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH – By Brian Ewing
Being one of the best of the new breed of American poster artists, it was about time this book came out. It actually very nearly didn’t make it to press when the ‘global economic crisis’ hit, but gladly someone at Dark Horse made it happen. Best known for his punk rock poster art and featured in Guitar Hero, no one draws a skull quite as well as Brian Ewing.
8. GIL ELVGREN, THE COMPLETE PIN-UPS – By Charles G. Martignette & Louis K. Meisel
The first port of call for every aspiring illustrator looking to get into ‘good girl’ artwork, Gil Elvgren remains the most recognised and imitated of that era. Every illustration fan has got to have at least one book on Gil’s in the collection if only to show you how to draw women properly.
9. KIRBY, KING OF COMICS – By Mark Evanier
The creative force behind some of the most popular characters in comics including the X-men & Captain America, Jack Kirby’s work is an inspiration and starting point for anyone interested in comic art today.
10. THE ART OF HAMMER -By Marcus Hearn
Only released a few days ago, this has been on my most wanted list for some time. A resurgence of interest in the Hammer legacy has given rise to this collection of classic horror movie poster art. And about time too! The work of Tom Chantrell & Bill Wiggins stands out as being particularly good, but over all this is an amazing collection of artwork that serves as a reminder of just how great these old movies are.
Long live print!