Friday, February 26, 2010

From The Vault: Bob Hope - 2003

I've done a lot of portraits of famous people to commemorate their passing, but its mostly of people I had strong affection for.

I wouldn't quite say that about Bob Hope, but I did love him in those Road movies he did with Bing Crosby, and its always a loss when someone who goes that far back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, so when Hope died in 2003 I put this piece together.

Its not a bad piece, but I think my favorite part is the shape--I like the tall, thin rectangle, and it reminds me a bit of those old-time lobby cards from the era of movies when Hope was a huge star.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time Out New York: Seann William Scott

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is actor Seann William Scott!

This week's subject came to me very late, so I had a shorter period of time than usual. I didn't have much insight as to how to do this other than as a bright, cheery, straight-ahead portrait, in full color.

So that's what I did, and I was overall pretty happy with it. I think maybe I could've done the scratchy beard effect a little better, but...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Movie Posters: Out of Sight

I remember seeing this poster in a movie theater, a few months before Out of Sight came out in the Summer of 1998, and I was immediately struck by how beautiful it was--I was grabbed its old school, 60s-esque look, and it made me want to see the movie more than I already did.

I love the old-timey quotes around movie's title, the juxtaposition of the two main stars (and not showing Jennifer Lopez's face--I wonder how J-Lo felt about that!), the rounded corners, and the monochromatic color scheme. The whole thing just works.

I see so few modern movie posters that are more than just a collection of Giant Movie Star Heads, so when someone tries to do something different I try and follow how that movie does at the box office. If a movie with an unusual poster flops, odds are someone in Hollywood will say "That's what we get for doing that kind of poster!", and then the chances of another studio taking an artistic chance like that gets even slimmer.

Despite the big stars, big name source material, and it just being a really good movie, Out of Sight famously didn't do all that well. Luckily, over time audiences have discovered the film, and now its considered one of George Clooney' best. Its certainly one of my all-time favorite movie posters of the last twenty years.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Abominable Snowman

Another custom Hammer Film poster, this one was a little different because up until two weeks ago, I had never seen the movie The Abominable Snowman.

I didn't have any intention to do a poster until I got about halfway through the film, and I thought about how much I was enjoying it--its got a slightly different tone and feel than Hammer's other movies (undoubtedly because its writer, producer, and director are different than the ones who did Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula), and I really got wrapped up in the story of two explorers--kind, humble Peter Cushing and brash, gutsy Forest Tucker(!)--trying to find evidence of an abominable snowman in the Himalayas.

The idea for the poster came fully formed--I didn't want a big, in-your-face shot of the monster; rather, I wanted something more moody and mysterious (which I feel reflects the tone of the movie), keeping the titular "monster" mostly obscured from view.

That idea made it tough to come up with a compelling image for the poster--because without the monster for a monster movie poster, what are you left with?--but I went ahead anyway, trying to convey the harsh, imposing landscape that the film takes place in, with all the sight lines pointing towards a shadowy figure, off in the distance.

Its a lot different than stuff I normally do, and while I don't think it completely came off, I do like it, and it was a lot of fun to work on as I listened to the commentary track for the movie. As of now, The Abominable Snowman is my new favorite Hammer movie of all time!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monster PSA: Tom Atkins

This Monster PSA was one of my stranger notions, in that it features someone virtually unknown outside genre circles (unlike movie icons like Karloff, Lugosi, and Chaney), but that's also what made it a little more fun for me.

Tom Atkins has been a lot of movies and TV shows (including an episode of my favorite series, M*A*S*H), but its really in the horror/sci-fi genre that he became a famous face: in the 70s and 80s, he appeared in The Fog, Escape From New York, Halloween III, Night of the Creeps, and Creepshow. Atkins had the ability to toggle back and forth between good guy and bad guy parts and that's one of the things I was going for with this poster.

In particular, in The Fog and Halloween III he beds the female protagonists with virtually no effort, displaying a machoness we really don't see in movies anymore. (I remember seeing The Fog about ten years ago in a theater, and right after Atkins' character first meets Jamie Lee Curtis's, the next scene is them post-coital. The whole sequence is so casual that the audience burst out laughing, in recognition of how much things have changed)

I'm not entirely sure I got the tag line just right--it doesn't roll off the tongue the way some of the other do--and it reflects what a hard time I had capturing the mood I was going for: that if Tom Atkins shows up in your movie, you're not quite sure what he's going to do.

Friday, February 19, 2010

From The Vault: Axe Man - 2003

I have absolutely no memory of why I did this piece, or what it was for.

I like how snappy and fastidious the guy looks, juxtaposed with the garish splashes of blood on this suit ans glasses. This guy doesn't necessarily like his job, but he does it well.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time Out New York: Mark Ruffalo

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is actor Mark Ruffalo!

Ruffalo was promoting his new movie, Shutter Island, and my first instinct was to do something very 50s, since that's when the movie takes place. But since TONY doesn't want the actor portraits to be of the characters they're playing, I decided to downplay that and go for this simpler, more austere black-and-white shot.

From what I've seen in the previews for the movie, part of it involves newspaper headlines about the titular island. So I found a scan of a vintage newspaper and dropped it behind Ruffalo. After messing with it a bit, it gave off the feeling I was going for, and I called it a day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Namtab on the Web

A radio show called Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction had an episode this week partially dealing with the release of the new Wolf Man movie, so they asked me if they could use my 40s-era Wolf Man poster as a graphic to decorate the show's page and promote the episode.

I said sure, and they were conscientious enough to credit me and provide a link to my Universal Monsters page. You can learn more about the show and download/listen to episodes here!

Movie Posters: Bordertown

No, this is not an example of my work after I went back in time to the 1930s and designed movie posters for Warner Bros.!

This poster, for the 1937 Bette Davis film Bordertown, is one of my all-time favorite movie one-sheets, and I'm posting it here because I'm currently hard at work on a movie poster for a small, independent horror movie.

I've pulled all my movie poster books off the shelf and have been looking over them
to try and soak up some inspiration. So I thought while I'm in the process of working on the poster, I'd occasionally post some of my all-time favorites, the kind of posters that were and are huge artistic inspirations for me.

The use of color, design, fonts, and character on this poster is to me, nigh-perfect. I love how Ms. Davis disappears into the red stripe, but also breaks those borders and dominates the poster. Paul Muni may be getting top billing, but the poster tells you who's the star.

I've never even seen Bordertown, and I'm pretty sure there's no way it could live up to this poster!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Horror of Dracula

Because I never met a series I didn't like, after I finished my custom Curse of Frankenstein poster, I felt compelled to try my hand at another one of the films--Horror of Dracula!

Like I did with the Universal Monster posters, its fun dropping in a lot of the same people in a slightly different context--like Curse, you've got Lee as the title monster, and Peter Cushing as the ostensible main character.

While I don't think this one works quite as well as Curse, overall I was pretty happy with it. And as we'll see, my exploration with the Hamer films didn't stop here...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monster PSA: Margot Kidder

Like my Caroline Munro piece, this poster really doesn't fit under the "Monster PSA" category, but I've long since decided I wouldn't be limited by that title on who I could dramatize.

I've always loved Margot Kidder, ever since I saw her as Lois Lane in Superman. She's been in other great movies too, like The Amityville Horror and Sisters. But my childhood crush evolved into admiration as I got older and saw her in various documentaries about her movies: unlike other actors, she's willing to talk about what actually happened at the time--the good, the bad, and the ugly--and I find that wonderfully refreshing.

I had a couple of different taglines in my mind for this one, but ultimately her famous line from the dinner scene with Christopher Reeve as Superman won out. Looking back, its a pretty racy line, for what was a family movie franchise; but Kidder as Lois says it in such a way its mostly cute...with just a touch of bad girl moxie.

Friday, February 12, 2010

From The Vault: Bruce Wayne - 2002

In the years following the abysmal Batman and Robin (1997), comic fans spent a lot of time fantasizing about how best to reboot the Batman film series.

In 2002, I though that Clive Owen--then not nearly as famous as he is now--would make a fantastic Bruce Wayne (which, to me, is the more important role to get right), so I worked up this geeky little portrait of Owen as millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

Obviously, after I finished the shot of Owen, I must have lost interest in the piece, because that Bat-Signal is sloppy and weak; and it single-handedly turned what could've a solid piece into a missed opportunity. Oh well.

And, as good as Christian Bale ended up being in the Batman films (and that is very good), I still think Owen would've been great, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time Out New York: Topher Grace

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is actor Topher Grace!

As tempting as it was to draw him as Venom (no, I'm kidding), I decided almost immediately to go with a nice, straight-ahead portrait. I originally had a lime green background color, which I thought looked good. But then I asked what Topher was promoting, and since it was the movie Valentine's Day, I thought a nod in that direction was only appropriate.

I knew I didn't want it to be too on the nose--no hearts or cupid or anything like that--but just a little something to give it that Valentine's Day feel.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Wolf Man

My favorite still from the Wolf Man remake--opening this Friday--is this one, featuring Emily Blunt's character hiding in the woods from the Wolf Man. Its classic Universal, and the scene featuring it in the preview gives me hope this movie will get what makes the Wolf Man story so compelling.

I first tried to do this as an illustration, with all the other design elements you see here in place, but it just didn't look right. Maybe I didn't do a good enough job on it, I don't know, but I liked the idea too much just to give up.

So I decided to do this as a pure design piece, and after fiddling with the photo a bit (the original still is much more horizontal; I had to press the two main elements closer together), it all fell into place and looked exactly like I wanted it to.

And even though it doesn't feature any of my illustration, I think this one is my favorite of the two Wolf Man posters. It would get me to see the movie, at least.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Wolf Man

I've been excited about the Wolf Man remake--opening this Friday--ever since I first heard about it, way back in 2008. Now that its here, I thought this was the perfect time to post the first of two custom Wolf Man posters I made up for the occasion.

When putting together a poster for a real movie, I try my best and stay away from anything that might look like the actual one. So for this, I thought why not keep The Wolf Man partially hidden from view? I thought maybe having an over the shoulder shot paired with very bold and dramatic typography might strike the right tone.

I had another idea for a Wolf Man poster, which we'll see here tomorrow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wow, What Great T-Shirt Designs!

My pal and fellow Monster Fan Rob Tullo sent me a link to the above page, part of the Cafe Press store for the company Infidel Concepts. Do those t-shirt designs look familiar? Yeah, they do to me, too--they're my Universal Monster Posters!

Yes, some intrepid (read: crooked) member of the IC staff decided that my posters would make great t-shirts. I agree, except that, you know, they're ripping me off to do it.

My posters, because of their use of copyrighted images, are not available for sale in any form. I have written Cafe Press alerting them to this, and am awaiting a response.

To be continued...

Monster PSA: Bela Lugosi

For some ungodly reason, I went on a kick of watching Monogram/PRC movies, many of which, sadly for him, feature Bela Lugosi.

One of his most "famous" PRC movies is The Devil Bat, featuring Bela as your typical mad scientist, experimenting on bats and then having them commit murders. Its a doozy of a film.

There's a long (read: padded) sequence of Bela standing outside his lab, zapping one of his pet bats with electricity, or something, and the shot of him wearing goggles and peeking through the window at his handiwork made me laugh, and inspired this poster.

Plus, I just enjoyed taking Barry Goldwater's infamous phrase and twisting it for my own silly ends.

Friday, February 5, 2010

From The Vault: Captain Pike - 2001

2001 was generally a tough year in my life (before it became a tough year in everyone's life), so I put a lot of energy into creating new pieces. One informal series were portraits of the original Star Trek crew, and they were my first steps into combining my cut-paper originals and computer coloring.

After finishing those up, I moved on to other stuff, but then one day I realized I had never done a Captain Pike portrait. So I sat down and banged this out--and while its no great shakes, I was personally satisfied to have Pike join the rest of the crew of the Enterprise.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Time Out New York: Aziz Ansari

This week's "Hot Seat" portrait for Time Out New York is comedian/actor Aziz Ansari!

While I've seen Ansari in a couple of things, I know him mostly from his role as would-be playa Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation.

This one was fairly easy, as I had an idea for it right from the start--I wanted a big, loud, ostentatious background behind him, since his persona (on that show, at least) relies a lot upon the tension between his appearance and attitude.

I messed around with the monochromatic colors on Aziz himself for a bit, but I liked the combo of the soft brown and the bright yellows, and went with that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Having previously done posters for the Batman, Blackhawk, and Captain Marvel movie serials, I've been itching to get to the first Superman one, but I could never come up with a look for it so it remained on my "to do" list.

Finally, I decided to try something a little different--instead of an illustration of Superman as the main image, I would make purely a design piece, just using photos. I'm not sure at what point I decided to go with a black and white shot of Superman and Lois, but something about it appealed to me, so once I found a nice shot of the two of them I went ahead with it.

The other debate I had in my head was the logo--it seems wrong, somehow, to use anything but the classic, iconic Superman logo, but that felt I like I was borrowing way too many pre-existing elements, so decided to come up with my own take on the Man of Steel's logo.

Overall, I thought this came out okay--it doesn't quite pull together like I had hoped, but its bright and fun and energetic like a Superman poster should be.

There was a second Superman serial--Atom Man vs. Superman--so maybe I can try the more traditional illustrated route if I ever get around to doing a poster for that one.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monster PSA: Tom Tyler

This week's Monster PSA poster is based on the idea that Tom Tyler--who from what I've read in interviews was a self-effacing guy, and not too taken away with his own acting skills--would advise that sometimes you can succeed by just being in the right place at the right time.

He was cast as the Mummy (previously played by Boris Karloff), mostly because he physically resembled Karloff, so stock shots from the first Mummy film could be spliced into the sequel. But he also succeeded in more visible roles--he played Captain Marvel, in The Adventures of Captain Marvel serial, my all-time favorite movie serial.

And, sometimes, its just fun to draw a mummy.