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Book Review: The Art of Drew Struzan

09.14.2010

The amount of enjoyment you get from the book THE ART OF DREW STRUZAN will ultimately come down to what you expect from an art book. The "art" part is simply stunning but when you separate yourself from the art and judge merely the "book" part, it is a little lacking.

Before we get into the nutmeat of the book, you probably need to know who Drew Struzan is. Have you seen the awesome, hand-painted posters for BACK TO THE FUTURE, STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, THE THING, and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA? Well, that's Drew Struzan. His painting for the STAR WARS EPISODE 1 is actually the most widely seen painting in the world. He's the last of a sadly dead breed, the movie poster artist. You don't need to be an artist to make a movie poster anymore, all you need is a few pictures of the movie's stars and Photoshop.

The searing foreword by Director Frank Darabont (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) starts the book off at a blistering pace. He absolutely destroys the current hierarchy of the Hollywood Studios and their marketing departments. More than anything though, this line of his sticks out to me: "50 years from now, nobody is going to have MEAN GIRLS or KNOCKED UP posters hanging on their walls. People will have Drew's masterpieces proudly displayed. They are works that, like all great art, will last." My wife is gracious enough to let me have 25+ movie posters all over the house, and every single one of them is a painting like what Mr. Struzan does. I couldn't imagine having the photoshopped bullshit posters of today plastered all over my walls.

The rest of the book is a series of never before seen art from all the movies he worked on (with brief descriptions of the process). Each movie's few pages are complete with black and white "comps" and the finished color posters. All the artwork is amazing and will make you ache for the good old days when posters were unique, beautiful and functioned as both art and marketing material. The art is ordered chronologically and watching as a man's means of livelihood is slowly destroyed by backwards thinking executives is absolutely heartbreaking. By then end, he can only get a few jobs and almost all of his work is being left unreleased. Luckily, it's all included here for us to see.

As I mentioned before, the written parts of the book drag it down quite a bit. For every interesting bit of info in the movie description (like how he made the comps and final art for THE THING's poster in 24 hours or that his PAN'S LABYRINTH poster was rejected for looking too much like "Art"), there are a few mind-numbing descriptions to follow. I don't like critiquing the quality of a man's writing but you can tell his hands/mind were made for painting. As an example of what I mean, the following is the entirety of what Mr. Struzan has to say about the poster for the Dolph Lundgren classic MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: "Three comps and a finish, pretty simple, and the finish is prettyclose to the first comp. I added buildings again, to give you the idea this wasn't taking place in some sword-and-sorcery realm or on another planet; plus they add depth and scope. Probably about two weeks' work, and a really cool piece. When the suits leave me alone, the best work comes out to shine." Enlightening, right?

All in all, there is more greatness in the book than mediocre parts. You definitely won't regret making the purchase but if you want to save some money, you'll probably be OK just sitting down with the book in a Borders or your local Library for an hour or two and then leaving it. When it comes to art books, I love looking at beautiful pictures but I want to learn something with each paragraph (even if the knowledge is as inconsequential as the movie poster business). THE ART OF DREW STRUZAN is a minor letdown in that department.

Source: JoBlo.com

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