May 22 2024


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The Art of John Alvin Book Review

2 min read


Trek fans may remember John Alvin‘s work on the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country poster, but the artist created many other iconic movie posters.

The Art of John Alvin, written by his widow Andrea Alvin, explores over three dozen of these posters, beginning with 1974’s Blazing Saddles.

John Alvin:

Born in 1948, Alvin’s artist talent was evident in his youth, and the military brat soon found out that drawing “hot rods and naked women” for the other boys soon endeared him to them.

He painted movie posters as a child of 1950s and early 1960s posters, so it was only natural to do so as an adult. The wildly successful Blazing Saddles poster lead to steady work throughout his career, which ended in 2008 when he died suddenly of a heart attack.

The Book:

The Art of John Alvin features thirty-seven different projects, from Blazing Saddles through Star Wars Celebration IV, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Star Wars.

The book opens with a foreword from Jeffrey Katzenberg, and then an introduction from Andrea Alvin. After that, there is a chapter devoted to each of Alvin’s posters.

The chapters each are one to six pages, and include the story of each movie poster. For the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country poster, we learn that Alvin was asked to step in and design a poster after Bob Peak, who designed the first five Trek movie posters, declined to do this one for final original series movie.

Some of the posters in the book are from familiar sci-fi movies, including Star Trek and later Star Wars posters, Blade Runner, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Cocoon, Spaceballs, Short Circuit and more.

Alvin worked on several different Star Wars art projects in spite of having rejected working on the poster art for the original Star Wars film. “He kicked himself for years after [turning it down],” explained Andrea; “and jumped at any chance to work on a Star Wars project, for the love of it.”

While some of the chapters consist only of the story and the poster, others feature more detail, including sketches and preliminary poster artwork. It was fascinating to learn about the man behind some of the most iconic movie posters, such as the one for E.T.

The stories behind the final poster include what worked and what was rejected and why. Also – there are details included in the posters that might escape casual notice, and it was a lot of fun scrutinizing each poster for things that might have been missed.

The Verdict:

This is a beautifully-illustrated book and if you’re a fan of movie posters from the 1970s on, it is a must-have.

Book Information:

160 pages in length, published by Titan Books. List price $34.95, but can be ordered on Amazon for $22.23, which is a bargain for this book. To order, head to the link located here.

John Alvin’s website can be found here.

About The Author

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