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.
Last week I made my iHorror debut with a piece that focused on the proliferation of ’80s horror movies centered around bedroom closets. One such example, I noted, was Making Contact, a decent but largely forgotten (or ignored) German-cum-US telekinetic kid flick that plays like Spielberg-lite. After the article went up, I saw a lot of people making specific comments about the poster art for Making Contact, which I’d included in the piece. Their long dormant memories of the film had been awoken by the recognizable imagery.
Their reactions inspired me: I’ve always loved the poster for Making Contact, so I thought, why not do some digging and make whoever the artist was the focus of my next Artists Behind the Image? Well, I didn’t have to dig much: it totally slipped my mind that I’d actually tracked down the artist – as well as several of his other pieces – only a few months ago, and they were just sitting in a folder on my computer desktop. How easy!
The artist: Barry E. Jackson. Much like Bill Morrison (one of my earlier entries) Jackson’s career made the amusing jump from ’80s horror movie posters to ’90s children’s fare. And much like Morrison, Jackson’s bio seems to completely glance over his early work, instead focusing solely on the family friendly stuff he’s produced since the ’90s.
While Jackson has done character and production design for films such as Shrek, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he’s also worked on edgier stuff such as Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World, bridging the gap between his roots and his current focus.
In 2008, Jackson released his first children’s book, Danny Diamondback, which was dedicated to his daughter Rachel. In 2015, he worked as a concept artist on The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. He’s currently working as a supervising art director on the Star Wars fan film, Rise of the Empire.