Mon
Oct 11 2010 5:22pm

Something Wicked This Way Comes art by David Grove

Something Wicked This Way Comes art by David Grove

“First of all, it was October. A rare month for boys.”

Every October I ritually watch Something Wicked This Way Comes as a way of ringing in the Halloween spirit that pervades the month. It’s not the best film, but over the years, despite it’s stilted and cliched dialog delivered by two twelve-year-olds trying to act, I’ve come to adore it.

The flavor of the story is beautifully captured in the movie poster by my once teacher, once mentor, and long-time friend, David Grove. Its near magical method of loose paint flows into rich, saturated runs of color, giving the illusion that it was painted in a quick, haphazard session. Besides those passages that underly the delicately rendered focal points that bleed light and life into the entire composition, the painting and I have a bit of a special connection: it haunts me.

My first appointment with a real designer of movie posters was with Roy Anderson on the Disney lot in California, somewhere between Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Lanes, one morning in 1982. I had heard that Disney was working on the movie based on Ray Bradbury’s book. After passing a glass case full of Oscars, I made my way to Roy’s office with my portfolio of original paintings.

We hit if off immediately, easily chatting about illustration and painting. I showed him my work, rolled out on the floor in large canvases. He liked the work so much, he got out a pad of paper and started giving me even more names of people to contact in L.A. for movie work.

The meeting went so well, I thought maybe I had a chance at getting the Something Wicked assignment, when the conversation turned to where I went to school and who I admired in the business. David Grove’s name came up right away as I explained how I had attended a five week class with him at the California College of Art in Oakland several years before. I told Roy how very influenced I was by David’s work and how I considered him a friend. But Grove dominated the field so much those days it was hard to escape running into his book cover work, Pendleton Shirt ads, and movie posters.

Indeed, David had kidded me once while I was still in school to “remember: when you graduate, I’ll instantly be your competition.” Roy mentioned that he thought my work resembled David’s, and oh, by the way, he just got some art in from David that morning. He pulled the office door away from the wall where the original finished poster art for Something Wicked leaned against the wall.

Oh well. I never got a chance to work with Roy, but from his contacts I got involved with painting quite a few posters for movies.

I stayed in touch with David over the years, and recently I visited him. We had long conversations about working in the business, working with Hollywood, and how he had recently been honored with induction into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. (I was honored to give his introduction speech.) We talked about him donating artwork to the Society’s Permanent Collection.

Not long ago while on a visit to the Society, I’d heard that David had donated a painting. As I turned a corner in one of the hallways there it was again, the Something Wicked painting, 30 years later.


Greg Manchess is an artist with his own ode to October and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

9 comments
Richard Fife
1. R.Fife
I grew up loving this movie beyond belief, and I watched on far more occasions than October, to be sure. I so need to get my hands on a copy of it so start showing my kids, although they might be a bit young for it, yet. Then again, they can handle Legend without a problem, so they should be able to handle this.
Michael Burke
3. Ludon
I've enjoyed this poster art since the first time I saw it. In my opinion this painting would also work as cover art for the book. (Maybe they did a media tie-in release of the book with this art - I don't remember.)

I've loved this movie from the first time I saw it (opening day). The kids didn't bother me that much since I was hooked on the performances of Jason Robards, Jonathan Price and Royal Dano.

I have the Anchor Bay release of the DVD though I keep hoping to see a special release with commentary and behind the scenes information. Also. I'd love it if someone would do a soundtrack album or CD. I'd add that one to my stack of painting music - which includes Basil Poledouris' score for Wind and the Vangelis albums Mythodea and Heaven And Hell.

Back to the art. You're right about the look of quick simplicity. The first release poster art for The Black Stallion is another poster that comes to mind which looks deceptively simple.
Chuck Lukacs
4. Chuck Lukacs
Gracious thanks, Maestro Manchess !!
Brilliant story.. Wow.. Both of you
have had a profound influence.. =)
Cheers,
Chuck
Stacey H. H.
7. geekgirl1970
That's practically a Halloween story all on its own. :)
Chuck Lukacs
8. Greg Newbold
Always a Bradbury fan, I was enchanted by the movie when it came out. Not that it was such a great movie, but that the poster art conveyed so effectively and mysteriously the tone of the book. I too revisited the movie recently and was still charmed by the story, clunky effects and all. But it is the poster art by Grove that still stands as one of the best examples of movie art ever. That piece was one of the reasons I steered toward illustration when it came time for college. I found my own style but I finally met David in 2009 while earning my MFA at the University of Hartford with another icon Murray Tinkelman. What a pleasure it was to talk with the man who inspired so many of my earliest artistic efforts.
Bridget McGovern
9. BMcGovern
Great story, Greg (and fantastic paintings, of course--both yours and Grove's :) I was completely fascinated by Something Wicked This Way Comes when I was younger--it's so much creepier than your average Disney film, and Jason Robards is always wonderful; definitely a perfect Halloween movie. Thanks for the reminder!
Chuck Lukacs
10. tlchang
Love this poster, loved the book, loved the movie. I didn't realize you had studied with David Grove, Greg. He's always been one of my favorites. (I also had *your* Something Wicked... poster on my studio wall for several years before I met you. :-)
Gregory Manchess
11. GregManchess
So great to hear everyone respond...glad there are so many fans! David has done so very many excellent posters.

But you know, deceptively simple posters are simple. It's the years of training behind them that allows a professional to turn simple into phenomenal.

And YEAH: I want my soundtrack cd and behind the scenes special edition dvd! And maybe even a remake...but it wouldn't be the same without Jonathan Pryce.....

And I'd love do a fully-illustrated, large format coffee table book of the story....ahem....
Chuck Lukacs
12. Christopher J Boozell
As a fan of both the book and the movie, I loved this story, Greg. Thanks for sharing!

Chris B

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