Cinema Retro recently caught up
with the editor of this fantastic new film poster book to talk movies and
CR: Where did you find all
these posters? Are they from several collections, are they yours, or are they
sourced from online collections?
Adam Newell: There are just over
1,000 posters in the book, and boy, do I wish they were all mine! That would be
an amazing collection to own. Alas, only a handful of them are mine, some are
from my co-authors, and many are from online collections (with a special tip of
the hat going to Mikhail Ilyin).
CR: Regarding the originals,
how does one go about finding posters like these, and how do you store and
AN: Back in the day, hunting
down vintage movie posters was a question of going to specialist shops down
dusty back alleys, being on the (snail) mailing list of the right dealers, or
attending movie ephemera fairs. I remember the first time I visited the US, in
1992, finding a shop down a back street in Hollywood, which was stuffed to the
gills with amazing US one-sheets for movies going back decades. It was a real
kid/candy store moment, and I spent hours in there looking at posters I'd never
seen before, mostly for films I'd never heard of! (As a complete aside, I also
remember that day earwigging a long conversation
between the shop
owner and a customer who was agonising over whether to buy a piece of TV
history the shop had for sale: an original Batgirl cowl, as worn by Yvonne
Craig. The price tag was $3,000, and I think he ended up not buying it. I
daren't think what that thing might be worth today...)
These days of course,
the internet has changed all that. At any one time, tens of thousands of
original movie posters are for sale online, along with countless repros, if
it's just the art you want. Need a repro of the one-sheet for Devil's Express, starring the amazing
Warhawk Tanzania in a pair of yellow dungarees? eBay will oblige. When I looked
a few weeks back, there was even an original one-sheet from that movie, for a
mere twenty bucks! I wish I'd bought it now. Specialist shops and dealers are
still around of course, and are always worth checking with if you're after
something in particular, and then there are auction houses for the really
high-end stuff. If you have several million dollars to spare, you could build
up a nice collection of original 1930s horror movie posters: in recent years
there have been quite a few sales of 'the only known surviving copy' of
particular posters, from the Karloff Frankenstein,
As for storage and
protection, it's the same as for any paper-based collectable: avoid damp,
cigarette smoke, and too much direct sunlight. I always think the best way to
store a poster collection is to have one of those floor-standing
display/portfolios you can flip through, so they can at be at least partially
'on display' at all times. If you've got the wall space, then put as many up as
you can! Decent clip frames will allow you to easily 'rotate' what you have on
the wall at any one time. Otherwise, it's best if they can be stored flat or
rolled, rather than folded, even if they came folded in the first place.
CR: What advice would you have
for someone who wants to become a film poster collector?
AN: If you don't mind having a
repro, then even those million dollar posters can be found inexpensively
(though you should always beware of the quality: one of those semi-automated
eBay sellers will happily sell you a full size repro of a poster, taken from a
scan which is not nearly up to the task...). If you're looking to buy original
posters, then whenever you can, simply buy what you like, not what you think
you 'should' be buying as an investment or whatever. Certain genres, artists
and series (James Bond, for example) will always attract a premium price, and
are way out of reach for most collectors, but that
doesn't mean there
aren't plenty of other posters to go around. Foreign language posters can be
cheaper than their US/UK equivalent, and often have cooler art!
CR: How long did this project take, and how did you find your contributors?
AN: The idea had been percolating for several years. I’ve always loved movie art books. As an editor, I’ve worked on a few over the years, from archive poster collections like The Art of Hammer to more recent ‘alternative’ art titles such as Gallery 1988’s Crazy4Cult series. I especially love exploitation and B-movie posters, and frankly a beautifully printed, 320-page, full colour hardcover coffee table book with 1000 posters in it is basically something I wanted for my own bookshelf. I’ve just been lucky enough to get a publisher on board to make it happen!
Firstly, I wanted to make sure that the sheer quantity was pretty overwhelming (did I mention there are 1000 posters in the book?). Then it was a question of breaking down that initial selection into the various genres and subgenres we wanted to cover, with a good variety of approaches to poster design represented: many of the posters feature superb paintings by supremely talented artists, while others are just hastily slapped together collages of text and photos, but all of them have great impact, and all of them have something to say about their period and the way movies were marketed.
Once the basic structure of the book was set, I wanted people who were experts in their field to write pieces about a couple of notable films of their choice (and their posters) by way of an introduction to each genre. It’s a stellar line-up: Eric Schaefer kicks off the ‘Moral Panic’ section, then there’s Vern (Action), Stephen Jones (Horror), Kim Newman (Sci-fi), and Simon Sheridan (Sex). Plus the author, filmmaker, and co-owner of the cult video label Mondo Macabro Pete Tombs provides an extended general Introduction. Between them, these gentlemen have written a whole shelf-load of influential books about genre movies,
so I’m privileged to have them all in this one. Added to their contributions are over a hundred mini-features by me, highlighting specific stars, directors, poster artists and subgenres — from James Bond rip-offs to biker movies, giallo, nunsploitation and beyond — that I hope builds up into an overview of the nether regions of exploitation cinema, from the 1930s to the 70s.
CR: You probably get asked this all the time, but do you have a favourite poster in the book?
AN: An almost impossible question to answer, but I do have a soft spot for the aforementioned Devil's Express: it's wonderfully bonkers. One of these days I will actually sit down and watch the movie, but I'm sure it won't be as good as the film I've conjured up in my head thanks to that poster. I'll mention two more: for sheer artistry, it's hard to beat Vittorio Pisani’s Italian poster for 1954’s 3D Vincent Price vehicle The Mad Magician (Il mostro delle nebbie). It appears to have very little to do with the actual film, which is set in the 1800s, but it’s utterly spellbinding nonetheless. For totally brazen exploitation chutzpah, I love The Sensuous Nurse. "Ursula Andress will melt your thermometer" indeed!