Tyler Stout on the making of his The Avengers screen print

31.07.14

To celebrate the release of 2012′s hugely anticipated superhero team-up The Avengers, Marvel, the studio behind what was unquestionably the biggest cinematic event of the year, once again worked with Austin-based Mondo to release a series of screen prints based on characters from the film. The incomparable Austin-based geek culture outfit has worked on prints for all of the standalone Marvel releases, starting with Iron Man in 2008 and only skipping the same year’s The Incredible Hulk.

The team at Mondo assembled a roster of its most celebrated artists to work on prints for each of the main characters and these were released over the period of a week in April 2012, beginning with Olly Moss‘ portrait of Black Widow and ending with Thor by Martin Ansin and Iron Man by Kevin Tong. A few weeks later, on the eve of the film’s release, Mondo then revealed a print featuring all of the characters that was designed and illustrated by arguably their most popular artist, Tyler Stout.

The regular version of Tyler Stout's screen print for The Avengers, 2012

The regular version of Tyler Stout’s screen print for The Avengers, 2012

As usual, the print came in both regular and variant versions and, despite each having relatively high print runs, the poster sold out within seconds of going on sale on Mondo’s site. I was lucky to snag a copy of the print via Tyler’s own lottery, which he now holds on his own site shortly after each print release sells out via Mondo.

Whilst adding the regular version to the Film on Paper collection I wanted to interview the man himself about the creation of the print as I’ve done previously with his work on Akira, Kill Bill and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The interview can be read in full below:

—————

Hey Tyler, can I start by asking if you were keen to work on a poster for The Avengers after the prints you’d done for Iron Man 2 and Captain America? Did you ask the guys at Mondo if you could get involved?
Well, bear in mind that I did this poster over two years ago so it’s hard for me to remember the exact conversation, but it probably was something similar to the Mondo guys asking me, “Hey do you want to do a poster for Avengers?” and me going “Sure”, and then several emails from them saying “Is it done yet?” then me finishing it at the last minute.


Did you get to see the film before you worked on the print? What did you think?
I didn’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film before it’s released officially. Actually, Best Worst Movie - I saw that one. For the rest though, if it’s a new film, I don’t usually get into screenings. I really liked The Avengers a lot and it’s my second favourite Marvel film, after the first Iron Man. Since then I would probably add Captain America 2 up there as I really enjoyed that, plus Iron Man 3.

How long were you given to work on the design?
I can’t really say for sure. I’m certain they gave me at least a month’s heads-up, probably more like three months heads-up. Not that it does much good as I’m a last minute man.

An early thumbnail sketch for the poster that Tyler submitted to Mondo for approval before beginning work.

An early thumbnail sketch for the poster that Tyler submitted to Mondo for approval before beginning work.

Can you talk about your initial design ideas for the poster?
We were required to submit a thumbnail sketch of our design ideas early on in the process. As you can see I stuck pretty close to mine and just had to tweak a few colors and voila. Done. It was in my head the entire time.

Were there certain elements or characters you knew had to sit next to each other?
My posters are the very definition of happy accidents. Looking at this one, I think I deliberately made Captain America and Iron Man/Tony Stark smaller and less central to the piece because I’d already done posters for their individual films, so those two characters had already had their day to shine. Having seen the film, I realise now that maybe Hawkeye isn’t as main of a character as Cap or Stark (who’s a huge part of the film), but thats life. I let personal bias get in the way.

An early, colourless version of the print with a few notable differences.

An early, colourless version of the print with a few notable differences.

What about the idea of having each character with a portrait and an alternative pose?
I like drawing faces up close and I like kinda showing them in action. I just like repeating things for some reason. It gives it the feeling of movement, for me anyway.

One small note of interest is that, due to a lack of time, I used the city portion of a discarded design for a Drive poster as the background for this print. Later we ended up doing a letterpress of that same Drive design. This is known in the TStout industry as ‘double-dipping’.

TheAvengers_screenprint_TylerStout_BlackWidowClose

A close-up of an earlier version of the poster, featuring Black Widow and a cityscape ‘borrowed’ from an unused poster for Drive (as detailed above and featured below).

drive_letterpress_TylerStout

A letterpress of an earlier, unused poster for Drive (2011) that was designed by Tyler and from which he ‘borrowed’ the background cityscape for the Avengers print.

Was the composition and framing using the ‘A’ something you arrived at rapidly?
Having looked back at earlier versions it seems like the A feature was always pretty central to the design, there wasn’t any layout that didn’t involve it actually. So that’s good that I stuck to my guns.

Continue reading

The Avengers / screen print / regular / Tyler Stout / USA

31.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
The Avengers
AKA
Avengers Assemble (UK) | Group Hug (USA - fake working title)
Year of Film
2012
Director
Joss Whedon
Starring
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Screen print
Style of Poster
Regular
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2012
Designer
Tyler Stout
Artist
Tyler Stout
Size (inches)
24" x 35 11/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

2012 was an important year for several of cinema’s biggest franchises with the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, appearing four years after the last, plus Christopher Nolan bringing his Dark Knight trilogy to a spectacular close with The Dark Knight Rises. However, unquestionably the cinematic event of the year was the much anticipated release of Marvel’s superhero team-up The Avengers.

Even before the successful release of Iron Man in 2008, the production team in charge of what is known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had planned to release a series of films focusing on individual superheroes based on Marvel comic characters, with the intention of establishing their backstories, and popularity, with fans before uniting them together in a ‘crossover’ film. The original Avengers comic, which brought together previously stand-alone characters including Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man, was first released in 1963 and has been in print since then so it was no surprise that it was chosen to the be the crossover film following the first five standalone stories.

The film was helmed by cult screenwriter/director Joss Whedon who saw worldwide success with TV shows like Buffy, Angel and cult favourite Firefly, but this was his first major studio film and his appointment in 2010 was seen as a surprise, but welcome, choice by many fans. Whedon pushed the studio allow him to begin a new script after reading a screenplay by Zak Penn that they had been tinkering with since 2007 and the studio eventually agreed, with production beginning in July 2010.

Marvel’s faith in Whedon paid off in spectacular style when the film was released in 2012 and broke multiple worldwide box-office records, including highest-grossing opening in the US, the highest opening week earnings and fewest number of days to reach half a billion dollars (23). It was the highest grossing film of 2012 and currently stands at third in the all-time rankings.

To celebrate the release of the film, Marvel once again worked with Austin-based Mondo to release a series of screen prints based on characters from the film. The incomparable Austin-based geek culture outfit has worked on prints for all of the standalone Marvel releases, starting with Iron Man in 2008 and only skipping the same year’s The Incredible Hulk.

The team at Mondo assembled a roster of its most celebrated artists to turn in designs for each of the main characters and these were released over the period of a week in April 2012, beginning with Olly Moss‘ portrait of Black Widow and ending with Thor by Martin Ansin and Iron Man by Kevin Tong. A few weeks later, on the eve of the film’s release, Mondo then revealed a print featuring all of the characters that was designed and illustrated by arguably their most popular artist, Tyler Stout.

As usual, the print came in both regular and variant versions and, despite each having relatively high print runs, the poster sold out within seconds of going on sale on Mondo’s webshop. I was lucky to snag a copy of the print via Tyler’s ‘lottery’, which he now holds on his own site shortly after each print release sells out via Mondo.

Whilst adding the regular version to the Film on Paper collection I wanted to interview the man himself about the creation of the poster as I’ve done previously with his work on the prints for AkiraKill Bill and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The interview can be read in full by clicking here.

Note that the final image of Iron Man is stamped on the back of the print.

A Man Called Dagger / B2 / Japan

28.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
A Man Called Dagger
AKA
--
Year of Film
1967
Director
Richard Rush
Starring
Paul Mantee, Terry Moore, Jan Murray, Sue Ane Langdon, Eileen O'Neill, Maureen Arthur, Leonard Stone, Richard Kiel
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Thriller
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1968
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
20 4/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A relatively obscure spy thriller from 1967, A Man Called Dagger saw limited release around the globe and, as far as I can tell, this Japanese poster is one of the few examples of a theatrical release (I don’t believe the UK was treated to a cinema outing). Originally filmed in 1966, it fell victim to a collapse of relations between its original production company, Lew Horwitz’s Global Screen Associates (GSA), and distributors Cinema Distributors of America. It languished for almost a year before being picked up by MGM. The film is essentially a low-grade James Bond homage (the original title was ‘Why Spy?’) and it’s clear that the original producers wanted to cash in on the global popularity of Ian Fleming’s famous creation.

Richard Rush (most known for 1980′s The Stunt Man) was at the helm and Paul Mantee (a cult figure from his performance in Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 1964) plays the unfortunately monikered Dick Dagger (isn’t that a weapon from David Fincher’s Seven?), a crime-fighting spy who teams up with female agent Harper Davis (Terry Moore) in a bid to track down wheelchair bound Nazi war criminal Rudolph Koffman (Jan Murray). Koffman is holed up in a meat-packing plant and is using less than legal supplies in its production. With several damsels in distress, including Harper, Dagger must his ingenuity and gadgets, including a dodgy laser watch to save the day.

This B2 poster is a combination of the original US one sheet artwork (artist unknown) and a few photographic stills. If you have any idea who is responsible for the artwork please get in touch.

Check out the original trailer on YouTube.

The Toxic Avenger / quad / UK

25.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
The Toxic Avenger
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Starring
Andree Maranda, Mitch Cohen, Jennifer Prichard, Cindy Manion, Robert Prichard, Gary Schneider, Pat Ryan, Mark Torgl, Dick Martinsen
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror | Comedy
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
He was 98 lbs. of solid nerd until he became... | A new kind of super hero

Released by the infamous American production and distribution company Troma, The Toxic Avenger was something of a box-office failure on its first release, but subsequent long-running shows on the midnight movie circuit at the Bleecker Street Cinemas in New York City helped to cement its current reputation as a cult classic. The film would go on to become Troma Studios’ most successful film, spawning numerous sequels, spinoffs and even a stage musical. The Toxic Avenger himself even features as their official mascot and this original entry is seen as the film that ‘built the house of Troma’.

Melvin Junko (Mark Torgl) is a social misfit working at the Tromaville Health Club as a down-trodden mop boy who is often at the receiving end of the cruel pranks of a pair of bullies called Bozo (Gary Schneider) and Slug (Robert Prichard) and their girlfriends. One day whilst being chased through the club Melvin jumps out of a second story window and lands in a vat of toxic waste, which burns his skin and completely disfigures him. After running home and jumping in a bath to try and wash the waste off he finds himself mutating into a creature of superhuman strength. The rest of the film sees Melvin fighting crime in Tromaville as the Toxic Avenger, menacing the corrupt mayor Peter Belgoody (Pat Ryan).

The artwork on this British quad is, as far as I’m aware, unique to the poster. I’ve been unable to discover who the artist responsible is so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

The superb original trailer can be viewed on YouTube.

Star Wars / one sheet / style D / studio version / USA

23.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Adventure
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style D
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Charles White III | Drew Struzan
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 40 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

This is the excellent ‘style D’ poster for the original sci-fi classic Star Wars, which was printed for the 1978 re-release of the film in the US. The artwork, which only appears on this US one sheet, was a collaboration between two talents; Charles White III who was at the time an established and well regarded artist well known for his skills with an airbrush, and Drew Struzan who was early in his film poster painting career and yet to paint the iconic images for which he is famous for today. This is Struzan’s first poster for the Star Wars franchise and he would later go on to be one of Lucasfilm’s most trusted artists, painting several other posters and related images for the Star Wars universe over the following 35 years.

In an interview with Airbrush Magazine in August 1999, Struzan said:

‘I will never fail to give credit to Charlie White for what he did for me. It may have been a small thing to him, but a life changer for me. He is an extraordinary artist famed for his airbrush work. He had the desirable assignment to do the one-sheet poster for the re-release of Star Wars in 1978. He is marvellous at painting objects, but was hesitant to paint portraits for the poster. Somehow, he asked me to paint the portraits while he would paint the droids and the like…Only an extraordinary individual does anything so generous and unselfish. It is the individual who deserves the honor. I have no doubt that there was a desire on Charlie’s part to do the best job possible on the Star Wars project…It was to his advantage to use the best talent he could find. He also gave the lettering to a great letterer. It made for an outstanding poster. All of us who worked on it have been proud ever since to have had the opportunity. It remains a perennial favorite, even among Hollywood executives.’

The style D page on TheForce.net notes that this is said to be George Lucas’ favourite Star Wars poster and the original artwork apparently hangs on the wall in his house. It is often described as being a ‘circus’ style poster as the main image has been illustrated to appear that it’s sitting on a wooden board with other older, torn paper surrounding it.

In another interview with Struzan carried out by Cinefantastique in 1997, the artist recalls how the design came about:

‘The novel idea of making the poster appear as if it were pasted on a wall came about almost by accident. “We had already done the lettering of the title, painting it in as part of the poster,” recalled Struzan. “Then, when we got the billing, we discovered there wasn’t enough room for all the credits, so we had to figure out a way to make more space. We thought, ‘Why don’t we take what we already have and paint it to look like it’s wild posted on top of other posters?’ That gave us the extra room we needed for the billing at the bottom. It was a case of Necessity being the Mother of Invention.” …”We had to do other art to fill it out, so we had a chance to include more characters. We added Han Solo in a little vignetted circle, and Alec Guinness was an afterthought. It kind of grew to include everybody.”‘

Note that this is the ‘studio’ version of the one sheet and there is also the National Screen Service (NSS) version which has all of the associated markings on the bottom edge of the poster. The studio style was printed by the studio itself, whilst the NSS version would have been produced at one of their own printing offices. There were also two official reprints done around the time of the film’s 15th anniversary but they are pretty easy to spot since they are undersized and feature several new lines of text (copyright and so on). Movieposterauthenticating.com features an excellent article on the poster and shows photographic detail of the differences. Moviepostercollectors.com also features a page on the poster that’s well worth a read.

Charles White III has his own website which features galleries of his work and a short biography which is worth checking out. Drew Struzan barely needs an introduction to film fans worldwide but he also has an official website featuring galleries of his work. To see the other posters I’ve collected by Struzan click here.

Octopussy / B2 / final style / Japan

21.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Octopussy
AKA
--
Year of Film
1983
Director
John Glen
Starring
Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, David Meyer, Tony Meyer, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Michaela Clavell, Walter Gotell, Vijay Amritraj, Albert Moses
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | James Bond
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Final
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the Japanese B2 for Roger Moore‘s sixth outing as the legendary spy, 1983′s Octopussy. Considered by many to be one of the weaker entries in the long-running series, the film nevertheless continued the more ‘realistic’ and down to earth approach that was taken for the previous entry, For Your Eyes Only (1981), following the over-the-top lunacy of Moonraker (1979). The story sees Bond sent to investigate the death of his fellow agent ’009′ who perishes in front of the British embassy in East Berlin clutching a copy of a priceless Fabergé egg. When the trail leads to an auction house in London where the real egg is to be sold, Bond enters a bidding war with the mysterious Afghan prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), forcing him to spend several times its listing price.

After following Khan back to his palace in Rajasthan, India, the spy eventually ends up in the clutches of Khan’s bodyguard Gobinda (an imposing Kabir Bedi) and, after escaping, discovers that the prince is working with a power-hungry Soviet general named Orlov (Steven Berkoff) who plans to detonate a nuclear bomb in a US Air Force base in Germany in order to destabilise Europe and expand Soviet borders. Bond heads to a palace on an Indian lake on the trail of Octopussy (Maud Adams), the enigmatic leader of an all-female cult and head of a travelling circus troupe that Khan and Orlov plan to use to smuggle the weapon into the base. Bond must convince Octopussy that Khan is only using her for his nefarious plot and sets out to prevent the bomb from detonating before Europe is plunged into chaos.

This B2 was fully illustrated by Renato Casaro, an Italian artist with a prolific output, who actually re-painted the central two figures that American artist Dan Goozee had originally illustrated for the US one sheet. Whilst on the UK quad Casaro had painted a montage that was used to surround Goozee’s figures, here he was asked to repaint the whole thing to fit a portrait format.

I interviewed the artist in March 2014 and he mentioned this poster:

—–

[...]Every poster painted by you was from your original design?
Almost every single one I worked on. Very occasionally I would adapt some posters for American films from the artwork that had been used over there. For example, for the British poster for Octopussy I painted an action montage around the central figures that had already been painted by the American artist Dan Goozee. When they wanted the same montage for the Japanese poster it was in a portrait format so I was able to repaint the figures myself and then adapt my original action montage around them. That was a very unusual case though and if it were an Italian production I would always retain complete creative control.

————-

 

Renato Casaro began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome, which was part of the legendary Cinecittà studios and handled film publicity for many Italian productions. Casaro soon decided to become a freelance artist and went on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on many German posters as well as others from countries including Japan, UK, North America as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. The other posters I’ve collected by Casaro can be seen by clicking here.