This is a tricky blog post to write. On the one hand it’s something I’m very excited to show, whilst on the other, in truth it didn’t exactly all go according to plan. A couple of years ago I was invited by Dick Lunn, the Hot Fuzz art director whom I’d previously worked with on No Heroics, to create a poster for the test shoot of Paul, which was soon to be happening at Shepperton Studios. Now that the movie is out (and after checking with the legal team at Working Title), I’m now finally able to show the work.
Naturally I was more than happy to oblige, having being a fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost since their Spaced days. My brief also could hardly have been any better, to create the front cover for the book which Nick’s character Clive had written, and Graham, played by Simon, had illustrated, which they were showing to interested parties at Comic-Con before embarking on their road trip. Not only that, but the image itself was briefed to me roughly as follows: Jelva is a green, three-breasted alien, and she should be riding a rhino, whilst using an electric whip! I guess if you or your boss might be offended by three-breasted green aliens then you might want to look away now, but otherwise, I’ll try and finish the story as concisely as possible.
Time was incredibly short, but I put as much time aside as I possibly could. The whole idea, as far as I understood it, was that unless the story changed, I would get to do the artwork ‘for real’ for the actual movie. Needless to say, I was thrilled, and while I was pleased with my contribution for the test shoot, I was chomping at the bit to create the actual artwork, with more time (and hopefully more budget) at my disposal.
The key reference point was the fantasy art of Boris Vallejo, and to a lesser extent, the late Frank Frazetta. I remember being amazed by their paintings in my teens, and not just because of the amazing ladies in them (honest!), so it was great to step back into that world. Unfortunately, whilst I received numerous compliments about the artwork, including kind words from Simon, Nick and director Greg Mottola indirectly, I never heard anything else when it came to the actual shoot. In short, when the production team changed for the actual movie, another artist was sought, and that was that really. When so many people work on a movie, it’s inevitable that these things happen really, so in the end I’m still very grateful to have been involved, and didn’t get (too) paranoid about it! I really enjoyed finally seeing the movie at the weekend, even if the (admittedly excellent) artwork of Jelva made me wince a little each time it appeared on screen.
So there we are then. A great experience, if not quite as amazing as it might have been. But still, getting the artwork sent back to me with signatures and thank yous from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Greg Mottola and Bill Hader more than makes up for it. Bill Hader even noted that he wanted the artwork “tattooed on his face”, although I guess makeup weren’t so keen on the idea. Ah well. I also received a photo of Simon and Nick holding the artwork, which was kinda amazing to receive too (and I’ll show here if I can get permission!).