The Art Of John Alvin by Andrea Alvin (book review).

Artist John Alvin died in 2008 but his wife and artist, Andrea Alvin, points out that even if you don’t recognise his name, you’ll certainly recognise the posters he did for the films of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, Disney and Mel Brooks. It is with the latter, that he got his first big break designing the ‘Blazing Saddles’ poster. Oddly, of all the work shown here, this one isn’t actually full page size to see all the sight gags it included.


With much of the work included here, are the preliminary sketches that went into making up these designs so you get an insight into how Alvin worked and was conversant with oils and acrylics, air brush and digital in equal measure over the years. Andrea Alvin also includes a lot of footnotes explaining what was going on at the time. Much of her husband’s work was done through the Intralink Film Graphic Design Company before he moved on because they wouldn’t give him a pay rise.

alvin-1         Alvin-BladeRunner6

He was nervous about going back to being a freelancer but the directors knew he could come up with the goods and was then never out of work. There are also written contributions from other people Alvin worked with when he was brought in by other advertising agencies to provide additional work, some of which wasn’t actually seen by the public, making this book even more special. You also get odd tit-bits like how contracts affect how big character faces are on poster art and how to resolve that problem. I did like one comment from one company that it was easier to let Alvin do what was appropriate than cause delays by telling him what they wanted and waste time. I wonder if other artists are as lucky?

ArtOfJohnAlvin       Alvin-JurassicPark1

One of the contributing factors that brought favour was Alvin’s knack for painting skies and as his wife points out, he never did the same one twice. This didn’t mean he could do figures, vehicles and landscapes in equal measure. If you’re into ‘Star Wars’, ‘Star Trek’ and the Tim Burton ‘Batman’ film series then you’ll find enough to make this book worth buying. If you just love to have a book showing some of the most well-known cinema posters of all time, then you’ll be happy as well. John Alvin might no longer be with us but his art will last and now you’ll be able to put the name to the posters and admire it without the words over it.

GF Willmetts

October 2014

(pub: Titan Books. 159 page large hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK), $34.95 (US), $39.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-85768-929-0)

check out websites: www.titanbooks.com and www.johnalvinart.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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