Now we’ve introduced what we do at TRIPWIRE, we can get down to the meat of this column. One of the things that we do, and arguably, always have done in the magazine is draw people’s attention to creators working in industries related to comics whose work they probably have seen but may not know that much about them. Just in the Annuals, figures like fine artist Phil Hale, storyboard artist Martin Asbury, production designer Guy Dyas and cartoonist Posy Simmonds have been featured to shine a light on these extremely talented individuals. The latest TRIPWIRE, out at the end of July continues that tradition with an extensive interview with classic movie poster illustrator Drew Struzan.
You may not know his name but I can guarantee that you have seen his work. His peerless images have graced posters for countless film classics including The Shawshank Redemption, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back To The Future. He comes from a long line of film poster geniuses like Robert McGinnis, Bob Peak and Howard Terpning and in these days of movie posters that display such a lack of imagination and composition, Struzan may be the last of his kind. He has retired from doing them because of the way that Hollywood has changed with illustrations rarely used on movie posters and so we chatted about what makes a great movie poster and whether this really is the end of film posters as we knew them. A great film poster stays with you sometimes long after the film has faded and even mediocre or terrible films can have great, iconic film posters.
There is a dynamism and a classicism to Struzan’s work that makes him instantly distinctive when you see it. He is also brilliant when it comes to likenesses but he can also boil down the essence of a film to its core. If you took his Shawshank Redemption poster, for example, it captures the emotional centre of that film in a way that a simple still from the movie couldn’t.
Over the years, we’ve been privileged to speak to many of the masters in their field whose body of work we’ve always admired and Struzan is a worthy addition to those subjects. He is an exceptional artist who was a very gracious interview subject with some interesting and intelligent points to make about the industry he has now left behind. Let’s just hope that he is wrong about the death of the well-composed illustrated movie poster and that we may see a resurgence in them at some point.
Joel Meadows is editor-in-chief of TRIPWIRE, a British magazine focused on graphic novels, TV, film and genre. He is an experienced journalist who has written about Film, TV, animation and genre for publications including Empire, Variety, Death Ray, SFX, Sci Fi Now, The Times, Time Magazine, the Independent on Sunday and The Guardian. He has written Studio Space, a book on 20 of the world’s best comic artists published by Image Comics. He has also worked as a sub editor and copy editor on publications like The Times, Evening Standard, NME, Total Film, The Observer and Time Magazine. He is a lifelong resident of London.