Entertainment artist Matt Busch has been involved in some wild and even crazed projects over the years, but the past few have been filled with one iconic and iconoclastic project after another. Consider that, in only the past five years or so, he’s scripted, directed, and acted in horror films; created and published a new paranormal collectible card game/divination tool; and drawn, painted, digitally manipulated, and otherwise created dozens of varied, original works of art.
And that’s ignoring the fact that he also had a few other, slightly higher profile gigs during that same period, including writing and illustrating the You Can Draw Star Wars how-to book. And overlooking that tome promptly spun off into the popular You Can Draw Star Wars live action webisode series, which showcases the techniques Busch uses daily to create his fantastic art in a manner that’s educational, yet entertaining, and even downright demented on occasion.
But even an artistic spirit as free as Busch might be hard pressed to name another project that’s proven itself to be as purely, blissfully demented in all the right as Hollywood-is-Dead has. And yet, as he explains, it’s also been a real labor of love and an unexpectedly nostalgic journey of discovery for the multi-talented creator.
My understanding is that the Hollywood-is-Dead project started out as a one-off commission. True?
Yeah, it was actually Lucasfilm's instigating it all. They wanted to do some viral marketing for the first Star Wars horror novel, Deathtroopers, and so I was asked to do something that would infuse the saga with zombies. Immediately, I came to the idea of repainting the classic Star Wars movie posters, similar to what Arthur Suydam had done with the iconic Marvel Zombies covers. Lucasfilm loved the idea and agreed it would be sweet for me to do all six movies.
Once they were released, it made a big splash, certainly bigger than I was expecting. My inbox was flooded with requests to zombify Indiana Jones, E.T. and other Hollywood classics that everyone knows and loves. That's when I realized this could be a big thing.
And so, Hollywood-is-Dead was born. I have a passion for the movie poster greats, so studying the masters I grew up adoring with a fine-tooth comb has been a real treat.
What makes a particular film or poster design the perfect foil for H-i-D? What guides your choices?
It's several things. First and foremost, how much the original movie poster means to me. Each one of these things can take days to weeks to study and rework every single brush stroke and texture. So if the original is one that moves me to begin with, I know I'll have fun doing the parody.
The next set of criteria is coming up with the gag, which is usually based on the title. Sometimes I get a zinger, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I turned into Breakfast is Tiffany. But there have been a slew of posters I've wanted to do, but haven't been able to come up with a clever title.
What’s been the general reaction from fans? How about those directors and designers whose work you’re parodying?
Fans love it. I haven't gotten one single complaint, only applause. As for the studios, there haven’t been any legal issues, and I don't expect any, since they are obviously parodies. In fact, many reps for the studios have given me a pat on the back, and some have actually purchased large quantities to give to casts and crews as gifts.
realize that parodies will be done whether they like it or not, and the
consensus many of them have is that these are done with pride and honor to the
original masterpiece—not like many parodies where they purposely take a stab at
the property itself and try to make it look dumb.
The only negative feedback I've received is from two different artists; mind you, not artists that had anything to do with the original works. Both of these artists are pretty well-known in the comic book industry, and are also fans of classic movie poster paintings. These artists have made it known how they feel, and even refuse to be involved with any projects I am in!
So, what’s their problem with the work?
My understanding is that they are insulted I would take such a great piece of work and do something so sacrilegious. If only they could see that I put my blood, sweat, and tears into each one of these because of how obsessed I am with these masterpieces in the first place.
Other colleagues tell me that they are just jealous I thought of it first, and they wish they were having as much fun as I am.
Even more, it's been quite the education. I used to work for Hollywood advertising agencies designing A-list movie posters, but this opportunity to work with such treasures has opened up my mind more than I ever imagined. I've learned so much more about composition, color harmony, and rendering techniques.
How about your fans? What do you hope they get from these images?
Well, my fan base on this is more on the zombie side, so I hope that they get a laugh or a kick out of the twistedness of the whole thing.
But, I do hope that there are movie poster buffs out there that appreciate the time and care I put into each one of these. Every poster I do is a love letter to the original.
Well, what’s next, both on the H-i-D front, and in general for you?
My plan is to continue with more series installments, like an all 80s theme, and one that's all animated movies.Eventually I hope to collect them all into a big coffee table book. I've been getting some great offers with licensing, so expect to see more T-Shirts, buttons, stickers and who knows what else. Action figures? Maybe even a parody movie and/or documentary.
Lots on the undead horizon, so to keep up with it all, check out Hollywood-is-Dead.
On the living side of what I do, I'm currently working on the last three You Can Draw Star Wars episodes. I've spent the last 3 years researching and illustrating the Indiana Jones World Map, so I'm excited for that to come out soon, too.
Of course, you can always see what I'm up to at the mothership, MattBusch.com!