The Art Of John Alvin

Andrea Alvin gives the backstory on some of her late husband’s most famous posters – and a couple that never made the cut…

John Alvin designed posters for some legendary movies, including Blazing Saddles, Batman Returns and The Goonies . With a book dedicated to the artist’s work out later this month, his wife Andrea tells SFX how he put together artwork for some iconic pieces of cinema…

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This is one of many concept comprehensives John painted for Darkman . In this composition he has shown the isolation of the main character. This was achieved by showing only the back side of the leading character, who is looking down on the city and civilisation, lit only by the moon which covers the landscape in a blanket of cool light. The copy line reinforces the sentiment of being an outsider. The final poster for Darkman was pretty much the opposite of this comp. It shows the Darkman in a very active pose engulfed in flames. Where this idea is cool and passive, the final painting is hot and very active. I believe that since Liam Neeson was not well known at the time and they needed to bring in an audience beyond the fans of the comic book, the studio chose a more exciting image for the one sheet.

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The illustrator Bob Peak created the first Star Trek posters and gave them an identity. When John was asked to do the poster for Star Trek VI , he felt that he should pay homage to Peak while also painting in his own style. The shaft of streaked light and the streaks of light emanating from the explosion are his tip of the hat to Peak. The ships, the burst of light in the explosion and the big head formed by the solar system, are all John Alvin.

The Art Of John Alvin is published by Titan on Friday 22 August.

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