Just yesterday, the cult-classic CollegeHumor series Troopers returned to the platform’s uncensored DROPOUT service with all-new episodes. So whether you’re catching up on the original series that followed Dread-Troopers Rich (Sam Reich) and Larry (Josh Ruben), and a prisoner/princess (Aubrey Plaza), or watching the brand new season starring Ally Beardsley, Raphael Chestang, and Adam Conover (Adam Ruins Everything), there’s a lot of Troopers content to occupy your time. But there’s also some incredible artwork created just to show off the new season!
We had a chance to chat with poster artist Sam Gilbey about the new season of Troopers and creating a one-sheet that pays homage to classics like Star Wars while also parodying them and highlighting the series’ own original characters and story elements. For poster enthusiasts out there, this one should be right at home on the wall next to your super-serious sci-fi/fantasy character collages; read on to find out why.
In case you missed our exclusive reveal of the Troopers trailer, that’s okay because we’ve provided it here for you again:
Chaos breaks out within the Interstellar Legion, and a new generation of Troopers breaks ranks in search of untold power. Stream the pilot episode now on DROPOUT.TV.
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I had an absolute (laser) blast working with CollegeHumor on this poster. As an 80s kid, I grew up being massively inspired by the hand-drawn movie posters of the era, from the likes of Drew Struzan, Richard Amsel, Bob Peak and others, even if it was only later that I learned their names. In those days in the early days of home video, especially if you only had Betamax like me (!) a good poster was like a summary of the film’s true nature that you could carry with you in your heart and mind. You might go years before seeing a theatrical release again on your crummy TV, so the power of good artwork was additionally significant in giving a movie a timeless quality.
You can undoubtedly see the meta/parody nature in Gilbey’s work above, but there’s an earnest homage to original poster artists here as well:
In fact it was probably Thomas William Chantrell’s classic Star Wars Poster that had the biggest effect on me. It’s just so evocative of a wider world, or galaxy in that case. I just loved how the tiny spaceships and stars were blended in with the character portraits. So I’ve always loved that genre of poster, with the sweet spot of the Venn diagram being where both the ‘floating characters’ and sci fi meet. This passion very much steered me to what I’m doing as an artist today, where I love to paint portraits and capture likeness, and my love of pop culture has stayed with me.
So how does Troopers differ? And what little Easter eggs might you miss at first glance?
In the case of Troopers it’s more of a parody of course, but whilst a couple of character poses and designs give a nod to this, such as the Trooper looking at a smartphone as if he doesn’t realise he’s meant to be posing for the poster (!), generally speaking we’ve played it pretty straight. So the show may be parodical, but the poster is (relatively) serious, which hopefully gives it that evocative feel. I love figuring out the character hierarchy for composite posters like this, where you’re looking at how position and scale is also helping to tell the story of the character relationships and motivations, whilst keeping the viewer’s gaze bouncing around within the image, not leading them out of it.
But no modern masterpiece is a solo creation these days, so here’s a bit of love for the team behind that artwork of Troopers:
I also really enjoyed working with Art Director Jarrett Brilliant. I had plenty of freedom to come up with a composition based on a large reference library of photography, which is relatively rare these days, so that was greatly appreciated. I even had 3D models of the spaceships that I could position just as I wanted in the scene, before repainting them. I was pinching myself! I also received useful notes as I went along, so to my mind there just the right amount of creative freedom, but guidance where appropriate too.
New episodes of Troopers are now streaming on CollegeHumor’s DROPOUT.