Monster A GoGo is a lifelong film lover and has been collecting movie posters for 39 years. His collecting journey began when he was a kid and has grown significantly since then. Throughout that time he has developed a keen sense for his collecting style and preferences. Scoop spoke to him about his collection and his thoughts on aspects of movie poster collecting.
Scoop: How long have you been collecting movie posters?
Monster A GoGo (MAG): I have been collecting posters since I was about 11 years old, in the sixth grade. I’m 50 now. You do the math.
Scoop: Why did you start collecting movie posters?
MAG: I was obsessed with movies as a kid. I always wanted to go and every day I would open the entertainment section of the newspaper to stare at the movie ads to see what was playing. The ads were like small versions of the posters. When I actually got to the theaters to see a film, the posters for the coming attractions in the lobby had me entranced. When I found out you could actually buy the posters, well…I was a goner then.
Scoop: Are you a big fan of movies or do you just collect for the art? If so, what is it about movies that you love?
MAG: Movies are an incredible art form. They are an incredible escape to another world as well. For 90 minutes or 2 hours, movies can whisk us to another time, another place, another reality. We can be trapped in a world overrun by the walking dead, be caught up in some horrible disaster, fly off into space, or simply witness a couple falling in love in some romantic comedy. The imagination is endless. That’s what I love about the magic of movies. The artwork on the posters that go with them can be almost as magical – or, in some cases, even more so.
Scoop: What attracts you to collecting movie posters?
MAG: Because I love movies so much, initially I only collected posters so I could own a piece of the movie in my own little way. That is why I only buy original posters, not reprints. But some of the artwork on posters for movies I haven’t seen is just amazing and I will gladly seek them out to add to my collection. Today it’s more about the beauty of the art of the poster than wanting to own a part of the film. I’d rather stare at the one-sheet for Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster than the Mona Lisa any day. But I still only buy originals.
Scoop: What was the first movie poster that you collected?
MAG: My first one-sheet was for the film Logan’s Run. I had been fortunate enough to get to watch part of the movie in the projection booth at a beautiful old theater downtown, now long gone. Because of that experience, the film became something special to me. When I happened into a comic book store not long afterwards and they had the poster on display for sale, I knew I had to get it. Posters were so cheap back then. I would go back and add to my collection often. The comic book store later had an original Star Wars poster for the steep price of $25. I wasn’t a fan, so I didn’t get it. I could kick myself about that now. It’s worth so much more than that today.
Scoop: What is your favorite piece in your collection?
MAG: That is hard to say since “favorite” is so subjective. Someone might pick a favorite based on how much the poster is worth. Others might pick one because it is the poster for their favorite movie. Others still might go for rarity, artist, etc. Then there are those who’ll pick a favorite based on the artwork alone. I remember that the very first framed poster I hung up in my house as an adult was for a forgotten 3-D martial arts film from the ’70s I’d never seen called Revenge of the Shogun Women. I love that poster. It’s cheesy and really tries to convey the effect of 3-D on the audience. It’s worth next to nothing. You can pick one up for under $10.
At the same time, someone who reveres The Godfather may have that poster hanging in their home. Despite the brilliant analogy of the handholding marionette strings, I find the image on The Godfather poster dull and crudely drawn – but it’s worth a lot of money.
But my personal favorite? Golly, that’s a hard choice. Although there are better and more interesting posters out there, I’d probably have to go back to my very first poster, Logan’s Run. It’s the one that got this whole collecting thing going. So many great posters have come into my life since getting that first one.
Scoop: What is the most valuable poster in your collection?
MAG: I’d say my most valuable poster is the U.S. one-sheet for the original Night of the Living Dead. It’s in beautiful shape and worth between $1,500 and $2,000. The poster I spent the most money on is a 1956 rerelease of the original King Kong. I knew I’d never be able to afford an original release and this particular rerelease was my favorite alternative and had been on my watch list forever. In auction I paid a little more than $900 for it. With taxes, shipping and other auction fees, the total for it came to just over $1,000. Ouch!
Scoop: Which posters do you want to add to your collection?
MAG: Oh that’s a loaded question. Ha! In the years since I started collecting, I’ve seen poster prices go from a few bucks each up into hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are many things out there I would love to have but will never be able to afford. However, if money were no object, I’d love to get my hands on all of the old Universal horror film posters from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. I’d love to get all of the incredible posters for all of the old AIP horror flicks of the ’50s and ’60s. There are a few H.G. Lewis posters I’m after and a William Castle title or two. A few exploitation titles still elude me. And I’d love that original King Kong. But I’m not doing too badly. My original want list of “possible dreams” – those posters that are near or within my price range and my grasp – has actually been shrinking over the last few years. The ’56 Kong was a big coup for me. Others, like White Slaves of Chinatown, the first in the infamous “Olga” series, the first rerelease of Psycho, I’d never be able to get the original release, and an original Jaws, etc. have all come my way. I really can’t complain. But my wallet can. Yowza!
Scoop: Do you collect different movie poster sizes?
MAG: For years, I only purchased U.S. one-sheets – the standard poster size you see on display in theaters. It’s only since I joined an online poster forum – the amazing and awesome AllPosterForum.com – earlier this year, started talking to some of the members and seeing their posters that I changed my tune. There are some incredible posters out there all over the world and they come in different shapes and sizes. I just got a poster from Ghana, my first. They’re not printed, but hand-painted on rice flour bags, so every poster is unique and original, and it’s huge. So no, one size does not fit all. There is truly a world of sizes out there and I’m open to any of them.
Scoop: Do you collect other movie memorabilia?
MAG: Of course I do, but posters are my first passion. I have a few cool things: a production-made – but, unfortunately, not screen used – Jason hockey mask from Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood. I have a few small props from a couple of other movies. I have a collection of movie gimmicks and premiums, such as a plastic “Zotz!” magic coin, original Illusion-O ghost viewers from William Castle’s 13 Ghosts, and scratch & sniff Odorama cards from John Waters’ Polyester. That kind of thing. I am always on the lookout for more, though.
Scoop: Do you have a preference on what type of movie art you collect?
MAG: I prefer posters that were originally drawn or painted over the overly used Photoshop-type posters of today. They say a picture, those dull Photoshop-produced posters of today, says a thousand words. But the designs by those who painted artwork for posters, their artistic license can leave a poster with an unlimited vocabulary. Posters are used to sell the movie to the public. What would you rather see, a movie promoted with sterile photos of its stars or one with colorful, action-packed scenes strikingly rendered by a true artist? Photoshop has its place, but I’ll take the older, painted posters any day.
Scoop: Do you focus on a time period, genre, artist, or anything else?
MAG: I do collect the full spectrum of genres, but my focus has always been on horror films. People always criticize the horror genre, making it the sort of red-headed stepchild of the film industry. But look at the posters. By and large horror/genre posters are more fascinating than the traditional dramas or comedies. And just look at the top selling posters of all time, they’re all horror/genre titles. While I’ve never really followed a particular period or artist, although some are just incredible, horror has always been my favorite.
Scoop: How much does condition impact your decision to purchase a poster?
MAG: At this stage of the game for me, it matters a lot. There have been too many times over the years when I order a poster and it’s just a mess. It could have rips, tears, stains, missing pieces, tape, writing on it, etc. You spend good money on a poster, look forward to getting it…and then your heart is just broken once it arrives. While I still occasionally receive a poster with problems, when buying online, I am very particular about the condition of the poster. There are a few reliable auction houses out there that have fairly dependable poster condition grading. I trust and utilize those all of the time. If I’m buying a poster in a store, I thoroughly inspect it so there are no surprises later. Posters cost too much money these days to waste it on trash.
Scoop: Is linen-backing a factor for you when it comes to purchasing posters?
MAG: I do not like linen-backed posters. Nothing I own is linen-backed. I understand the need for linen-backing, restoration and preservation, but the posters in my price range should all be available in their original paper form. I’m sure there’s some super cautious poster collector out there who’ll buy the poster for something like the upcoming James Bond flick Spectre and have it linen-backed right away. Why bother? If taken properly care of, the poster should last, in its original form, for decades.
Scoop: What about restoration?
MAG: I do understand the need for poster restoration. Up until now, I’ve never had the need to restore anything and don’t anticipate purchasing a poster, in my price range, that would be worthy of restoration. However, you bet I’d do it in a heartbeat if I stumbled upon an original Frankenstein or Dracula or some other rare piece that was in less than pristine condition and needed saving. Those types of posters are worth a small fortune and worth the investment in restoration. A torn copy of, say the Gigli or Dudley Do-Right poster, is not – in my opinion, anyway.
Scoop: Do you consider resale value when purchasing posters?
MAG: I used to consider resale when I first started buying posters far more than I do today. Occasionally I will buy something just as an investment if it is cheap enough. The bulk of the time I buy for my own enjoyment. I’ve resold very few posters over the years.
Scoop: Where do you buy your posters?
MAG: Unfortunately, the comic book stores and swap meets where you could occasionally find movie posters have had their supplies dry up over the years. You can occasionally find things on Craigslist, but most of it is the recent Photoshop-created junk I don’t like. By and large I have to rely on online auctions, and thankfully there are a decent number of those out there. There’s also eBay, but that’s often very “iffy.” There are those dealers who know their stuff and are spot on in their grading. There are also those who are notorious for selling reproductions and yet shamelessly pass them off as genuine. Then there are those lay people who really have no clue as to whether they have an authentic theatrically used poster or a later produced copy. Grading can often be beyond their comprehension and packaging for shipping… Well, don’t get me started.
Scoop: How do you store them?
MAG: I have thousands of posters. More than 200 of them are framed. That was a noble effort, but also foolhardy. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to store so many framed posters? Argh!
The rest are simply folded away into boxes or stored rolled in tubes. I’d like to say they are all stored in acid-free bags, but that is not the case unfortunately. That would require far too much time and money, neither of which I have the luxury of right now. But I do my best to keep them safe, away from heat and moisture. Eventually I’ll get them properly stored and bagged.
Scoop: Do you decorate with them?
MAG: Yes! Up until a couple of years ago, I had framed movie posters on every blank wall in my house; kitchen, living room, dining room, hallway, bedrooms, office, even a bathroom that didn’t have a shower in it. I loved my posters, and would change them out as the season, holiday, or mood would strike me. In the summer, you might see all of the posters for Beach Party and its sequels hanging up or maybe it would be posters for the Jaws films or its various knock-offs – Tentacles, Piranha, Barracuda, Up From The Depths, etc. It may have been overkill, but what did I care? I lived alone, it was my house and I loved to look at my beautiful posters. A few years ago, I went back to school to change professions. I rented out my home and all of my stuff is crammed into the tiny space I live in currently. It’s like a hoarder’s house at the moment, except everything has a place if it were back in a four-bedroom home. Unfortunately there is nothing on my walls here. I cannot wait to move back into a real house again and get my posters back on the walls where they belong.
Scoop: What advice would you give to someone new to the hobby to avoid overpaying or buying reprints that are claiming to be originals?
MAG: I was alone in my hobby for almost 40 years until I discovered AllPosterForum.com. I used to Google information about specific posters or how to spot fakes. There was some very useful information out there. Hopefully the new Overstreet book on movie posters will also be great tool for collectors. But the best thing for me since I started collecting has really been meeting fellow collectors and talking to them about posters, authentication, valuation, etc. on AllPosterForum.com. I’ve learned a lot there and have met some really wonderful people. For those new to collecting, I’d really suggest finding others who share your passion, on All Poster or some other forum you feel comfortable with…or possibly a real group in your own community if you can find them, and share your knowledge with each other. Don’t be afraid to look things up online. Read. Investigate. Knowledge is power and it can keep you from making a costly mistake. The bottom line though is to buy what you like and enjoy yourself. That’s truly what this hobby is all about.