A copy of The Art of John Alvin was provided by Titan Books for this review
To tell you the truth the name John Alvin did not ring a bell to me. Growing up I had a fascination with movie posters, so much so I would stalk the local VHS rental store when the time came to take them down. I had posters from my favorite films and directors plastered all over my room. I was a movie geek. Little did I know, that many of these works of art were created by the MORE than talented John Alvin.
So, when Titan Books offered us the chance to review an Art Book that concentrated on movie posters, I was all about it. Little did I know that I would also be getting a big education with this one! From the moment I laid eyes on the cover of the book I instantly started to realize that Mr. Alvin had produced some of the most famous posters of our generation! From his early work on Mel Brooks’ films such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, to Disney movies, on to Speilberg films, including special Star Wars posters, and more! The list goes on! The only way that you can truly understand the scope of his career is by picking up this book as soon as you can. It has already become my favorite coffee table book ever.
What’s most impressive is the narration that goes with it. Provided by Alvin’s widow, Andrea Alvin, who was also his business partner and biggest supporter. Her insight is what really makes the journey through Alvin’s career special. John Alvin worked during a very interesting time in film and art. From the period before the use of computers and Photoshop, to the digital era, I was more than impressed by what actually went into making a movie poster. Especially when most of the time the artist had never seen the film!
There are several posters created by Alvin that make me take a step back because I always assumed that it was a photograph! I think the best example of this is the Batman Forever poster with all of the characters on there, I couldn’t believe it. One of my favorite prints of all time is the classic The Lost Boys character poster, I love that movie and it was interesting to learn that the film was a difficult one to market. Learning why certain strategies were used in the production of a movie poster was really interesting to me. Posters can be just as important as a movie trailer, especially during the 80’s! When it came to his work on the Disney films, most of the posters he was contracted to create were to be aimed towards adults. Films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and (my favorite) The Lion King appealed to all audiences and Alvin’s artwork helped to market the movies to the adult demographic.
Being a fan of Star Wars, Blade Runner, Willow, and various sci-fi/fantasy movies, I could not believe that I never knew that John Alvin was responsible for some of the most iconic images from my childhood. What was most interesting of all in the book is seeing the unused Star Wars art for what was supposed to be a Star Wars concert series featuring the music of John Williams. Also, the planned, but scraped, Star Wars 10th Anniversary. Alvin’s work on Star Wars would of course not go unnoticed, while he created one of my favorite Return of the Jedi posters ever, he also had the opportunity to work on the final release of the “original” versions of the film on VHS and he also worked on exclusive pieces for a couple of the Star Wars Celebration conventions.
I could sit here all day and geek out about this book, but I don’t want to ruin it for you fans out there. Who is this book for? Everyone. Take a walk down memory lane with some of your favorites movies and learn why and how the posters for those films were created. John Alvin had an amazing career which was unfortunately ended way too early when he passed from a heart attack. But his memory lives on in the pages of this book and he will always be an important part of movie history.
The Art of John Alvin is now available at your local bookstore, you can also order it directly from Titan Books on their website by clicking here!