Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pretty Paper

You see here a rather fuzzy jpg of the Spanish poster for Riccardo Freda's THE WHITE WARRIOR [Agi Murad il diavolo bianco, 1958], a film photographed by Mario Bava. I spent many a pretty peso to acquire this poster when it appeared on eBay some years ago, and it's one of my favorite pieces of Bava-related poster art. This jpg is fuzzy, but the poster will be sharp and stunning to the eye when it opens the chapter pertaining to that film in my book, MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK.

Poster art is on my mind today. Let me explain why.

To backtrack... As I mentioned yesterday, we're presently working on standarizing what we call the "credits blocks" of the Bava book's main chapters -- you can see what I mean by this by visiting the Bava book site and checking out the second spread of the DANGER: DIABOLIK spread we have posted there as a sample. I originally compiled all the credits off the screen, and added other credits when and if I could find them, so we have decided to standardize the order of the credits to make them easier to read for reference. In doing this, I noticed that I had the distributors listed for some foreign release titles, but not all.

So it fell to me late yesterday afternoon to pull out all of my Bava poster/pressbooks/lobby cards, items hailing from around the world, and open them, one by one, making a record of the full name of each distributor (when possible -- would you believe that some Italian posters list NO distributor?); the correct foreign release title (thus ensuring the title was, say, 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON rather than FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON in, say, the UK or Australia); cast anomalies (did you know that the star of HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON is credited as "Steve Forsyth" on the Italian posters, but as "Stephen Forsyth" on the posters from every other country?); the brand of color and scope ratio specified (these actually differ on the same titles from country to country, a tip-off to some countries that cheaped out on the color processing); and, when possible, the name of the poster artist for specifying in the captions.

And people ask, "Why is the book taking so long?"

To Donna's surprise, and my own, I finished this task around 4:00 a.m. She expected it would take me at least a couple of days, but I threw my back into it and was determined to put the task behind me, stopping only briefly to have some soup. It was equal parts pleasure and pain to open each of the posters (some of them quite large) on the dining room table; pleasure because it was nice to see them again, and because there is a definite tactile satisfaction that comes from handling and smelling old posters, especially old French stone lithographs; and pain because I was reminded or made aware of little tears in some of them -- a stunning Italian due-foglia (two-sheet) poster for Gli invasori [US: ERIK THE CONQUEROR, or THE INVADERS] actually separated and fell into pieces as it was being photographed for the book, and I handled its tattered pieces especially lovingly. There is also the pain of regret where these posters are concerned; I'd need a whole second houseful of wall space to show off even a portion of them properly. But all I can offer most of them is a protective sleeve and repose in a Tupperware coffin. Donna asked if I'll be selling the posters once the book is published, and I really don't know; I'd like to use the collection, which encompasses all of popular Italian horror and fantasy cinema, to create or illustrate more books... but this one has been such a killer, neither of us is feeling too eager to rush into another project like this.

My job today is to organize the seven pages of legal pad scribblings that resulted from yesterday's labors on my computer, and then drop the information into the layout for Donna to insert. So I'd better get to it.

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