ARTISTS BEHIND THE IMAGE is intended to put a name (and sometimes face) to the talented men and women who created the most iconic images to adorn horror VHS boxes and posters from ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Their art is vital; it’s the reason I (and many of you, certainly) fell in love with horror movies in the first place. This is not only intended as a tribute, but also a minor compendium, meant to collect their works in one single spot. Corrections, additions, or other info? Email me.
The name Bill Morrison probably won’t ring any bells, but I guarantee you’ve see stuff he’s done. In fact, it’s his scope as an artist – which is so wide and wildly varied – that assures you’re familiar with his work. Whether you’re a child or a parent with a child (he’s done the covers for Disney movies), a horny teen (he’s done the covers for ’80s screwball comedies), or a gorehound (his horror covers are iconic) – or perhaps an odd combination of all three – you’ve undoubtedly come face to face with the work of Bill Morrison, and loved it.
While doing poster designs for low-budget horror flicks, Morrison met future The Simpsons creator Matt Groening who, at the time, was coming up with the taglines for said low-budget horror flicks. (They collaborated on Blood Diner, with Morrison doing the art and Groening penning the
eye-rolling tag: “First they greet you, then they eat you.”) The friendship maintained, and eventually the two worked together on the TV show The Simpsons, and later the comic books Simpsons Illustrated and Simpsons Comics and Stories.
In between that time of horror posters and The Simpsons, Morrison was spending his time doing the posters for Disney films like The Jungle Book, Oliver and Company, Rescuers Down Under, and The Little Mermaid. Yes: Morrison is responsible for the infamous cover of The Little Mermaid which featured phallic castle designs – a cover which would later be the subject for much controversy and speculation, and would eventually be pulled from shelves and replaced with much less jimdog-looking castle spires.
Bill continues to be involved in art and animation today, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch him at a convention, lecture, or festival, and see him work his magic in person.