Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Sunday, February 10, 2008

John Alvin, R.I.P.

You might not know the name, but if you're a movie fan, you've definitely seen his work. John Alvin was, like the still-active Drew Struzan, one of the last of the great movie poster artists.

Unfortunately, the talented hand that crafted the lobby posters for such cinematic favorites and box office blockbusters as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial, Gremlins, Willow, Star Trek VI, Cocoon, The Princess Bride, The Color Purple, Short Circuit, and Blade Runner, among so many more, passed away last week.

I had his Blade Runner poster on my studio wall for many years, through at least three apartments, and it's one of my favorite pieces of film art ever.

I feel a great sense of loss. There was once a time when there was certain joy in walking around a theater lobby, lingering over the posters. The best of them sparked your imagination, whetted your appetite, and inflamed your anticiptaion for the movies they advertised. But now, as film marketeers rely more and more heavily on Photoshopped head shots and generic, cookie-cutter poster and DVD package templates, the wonderful art of film poster illustration is rapidly fading to black. And with the passing of John Alvin, that heartbreaking process is only going to be accelerated.

Rest In Peace, Mister Alvin, and thanks for the memories.


Anthony Schiavino said...

Sad to hear this news. They defiantly don't make posters like they used to. It'a a lost art that needs to come back to moviemaking. Photoshop may make my life easier for my day job but it's ruined a good many things, namely poster art. Everyone needs it now and waits until the last minute because they don't do their damn jobs. They think things can be created on a whim and because of it most things have suffered. Might just be another thing movie executives ruined in the industry.

Craig Zablo said...

I didn't know the name, but I definitely knew his work.

You hit the nail on the head, when you spoke of walking through a theater lobby looking at the posters of movies that were "coming soon" -- they did build the sense of excitement and create an urgency to see the films much more than the photoshoped posters of today.

Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely remember the older time movie posters. Way cool. I didn't know this guy's name but I can see I liked much of his work.