To those just joining the poster-collecting community (a nice way of saying, “For those who have recently contracted the crippling disease known as poster addiction”), 2012 must have seemed like a pretty cool year. But for those of us who’ve been at this game for longer than we’d care to admit, however, 2012 wasn’t just “pretty cool”: it was a year awash in amazing artwork, a twelve-month stretch that (if anything) provided too many choices for the kind of people who like covering their walls with movie-themed screenprints. There were so many great posters this year, in fact, that the idea of one person “ranking” them or “picking the best of the best” is—at best—foolhardy.
Which is why Limited Paper turned to a select group of poster enthusiasts—collectors, artists, and personalities within the poster-industry—to get a group vote going on the matter. We came up with our picks for the 20 best posters of the year, the first half of which can be found after the jump.
If I wanted to prove it, I could probably sit down, do the math, and show everyone that there were more posters released in 2012 than any other year on record. We’re not going to do this—partly because math is boring and partly because there’s holiday-themed drinking to do—but come on: doesn’t it feel that way? In between Mondo’s weekly drops, Gallery1988’s ongoing series of themed showcases, the slew of galleries that opened this year, and the crop of new artists who have popped up on our radar since January…even if it ain’t mathematically so, it certainly feels that way, doesn’t it?
And so, when asked if I was interested in putting together a list of the “Top 10 Posters of 2012”, I was initially hesitant about the idea: it sounded like it’d be immediately overwhelming. And besides, “ranking” artwork seems like a dangerous proposition, the first step on a slippery slope towards journalistic oblivion. But then, a moment later, I decided to stop taking shit so seriously, realized that no one’s actually being “awarded” anything, and decided I’d just wrangle together a small panel of “judges” to help keep the tastes of such a list from becoming too narrow. It’s my hope that this group—composed of hardcore collectors, artists, and workers within the poster-industry—will also help make decisions on future Limited Paper-related contests, giveaways, and other situations where a judge (or judges) might be needed. We’ve got a contest on the horizon, for instance, and they’ll be helping with that (it’s a good one).
Anyway, there were a ton of posters to get through, so many that the first thing that we did was expand the list from “Top 10” to “Top 20”. We could probably do even more, frankly, but…well, there’s a holiday going on, and gifts to wrap, and drunk uncle to lock in the cellar: we need to keep this thing manageable. So, we’re going to split our top 20 right up the middle, offering the first half today, and the second half early next week (please note that this list only features posters that have been publicly released/viewed up to this point, so anything that might be arriving between now and January 1st will have to either end up on “Part Two” or…not show up at all). Without further ado, here’s part one…
20. Tom Whalen—LAND OF THE LOST
This Land of The Lost print—from the folks at Huckleberry and artist Tom Whalen (who also created one of the year’s best prints, one that’ll be making an appearance much higher up on this list) was one of our absolute favorites. It dropped back in July, at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, and we’re still kinda stumped as to why it hasn’t gathered a bigger following. Whalen perfectly captured the weirdness of Land of The Lost here, and while it’s a phrase used so often that it’s long since become a cliché, it’s never been more true than it is here: the colors pop right off the damn page on this one. Excellent work from one of the nicest guys in all of Poster World.
19. Ken Taylor—DRIVE
You’re going to be seeing quite a bit of Ken Taylor over the next 18 slots; it’s saying something that this is his lowest-ranking print on our top 20. Taylor churned out one amazing print after another this year, and Drive was the first in that long series of homeruns. It showed up early in 2012, and has been heavily sought-after/traded ever since. If you can get your hands on one, we strongly suggest not letting it go: sooner or later (*cough), Stout’s going to drop his long-awaited Drive print, and when that arrives we expect it to make a helluva “framing partner” with Taylor’s pitch-perfect take on Refn’s instant cult classic.
18. Mark Englert—THIS IS MY FARM…I’LL DIE HERE
Mark Englert has been a mainstay here at Limited Paper since our very first column, and we continue to follow his every move with stalker-like intensity. Just about everything Englert produced in 2012 ended up in our flat file, but it was his Walking Dead-themed piece—which showed up over the summer, just three or four months before Englert’s first-ever Mondo poster arrived—that reigned supreme.
17. Godmachine—BLACK AS MIDNIGHT
An unexpected surprise–and one that I personally adored– Godmachine’s Black as Midnight was easily one of my favorites for 2012. The artist’s Dark Crystal print–created for Bottleneck Gallery in NYC– was another potential candidate for this list, but my lifelong love for all things Twin Peaks-related made sure that it ended up here. The print is stark and bold in person, dominating whatever wall you put it on. If you’re a Peaks fan (or a Kyle Machlachlan enthusiast), I strongly suggest you seek this one out: you won’t be disappointed when it’s stopping people in their tracks when they visit your home.
16. Olly Moss—BLACK WIDOW
Olly Moss produced a ton of excellent work this year (you’ll be seeing more of it further up the list), but his Black Widow—part of Mondo’s six-week batch of Avengers-themed releases—was one of his best. It’s got all the things that make an Olly Moss print great, and it was easily the best of the single-character posters that made up this series. Only downside here? All that white made this print a magnet for chub-rub and incidental scuff-marks. If you get one, handle it as gently as you would the real Scarlett Johansson.
15. Kevin Tong—MOGWAI
Not movie-themed, but Kevin Tong’s gig poster for a Mogwai show in (I think) Los Angeles is still more than worthy of a spot on this list (and if it’d been solely up to me, it probably would’ve ended up even higher). This one’s absolutely haunting in person, and—hint, hint—if you turn a blacklight on it, you’re going to get an eyeful. Masterful work by the artist known in some nefarious circles as “Kevin Dong”.