As the son of an illustrator, I grew up appreciating movie poster artists more than probably do most movie geeks. And John Alvin, who passed away last Wednesday, was one of the artists I idolized. Alvin is considered one of the most important poster artists of the past 35 years, and it's no wonder. From E.T. to Gremlins to Blade Runner to The Goonies* to numerous Disney films, his art is as recognizable and iconic as poster design gets. The Smithsonian even named one of his works, for Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, one of the best posters of the 20th century.

His name may not be as familiar as that of Drew Struzan, another well-known movie poster designer whose work is quite similar. And it isn't that strange to (as I did often in my youth) confuse the work of the two illustrators, both of whom attended the same school as my father, Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, and both of whom worked for many of the same clients and for many of the same films. But there's no doubting that Alvin, who got his start with the poster for Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles and worked on many of Brooks' film campaigns from then on, was a distinctly innovative artist.

In addition to designing original posters for more than 135 films, Alvin produced art for many special edition and anniversary releases, as well as collector's art for popular movies such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean. There's probably a good chance that, if you're a real movie geek, you have something of his hanging up in your room or home. I think the closest thing for me is a Blade Runner t-shirt on which his poster art appears. And, of course, I can see a bunch of his talent clearly when looking over at my DVD collection*.

For a good list of his work, check out the filmography on his Wikipedia page, and for a fairly comprehensive look at images of his posters, check out this fan site.

*I just realized that the poster for The Goonies that I'm most familiar with, and which is on my DVD, is the one by Drew Struzan. Oops.