This work is probably unique as it is surely the only book so far to attempt what it achieves. Sim Branaghan has enhanced his fandom for painted film posters (and related material) by hunting down as many people as was physically possible in every relevant category - from the artists themselves, via the printers, to the latter-day dealers in collectable memorabilia. You can almost share his frustration when a trail runs cold.
I had almost bought this book when it came out, and now found that I had to go via eBay to satisfy my curiosity about an area that, like nearly everybody else, I had appreciated but taken for granted: the posters for the Carry Ons and other British comedy films. Who had painted them? Sure enough, this book answered the question.
The author may not thank me for suggesting that he has `done a Denis Gifford'. What the late writer did for the appreciation of older children's comics, Branaghan has reiterated for illustrated film advertising: he has taken a low-key `genre' of enthusiasm and documented its history which he has more or less had to hunt down for himself.
The industry is (was) populated by individuals, mainly men, many of whom surely saw themselves as ordinary blokes, working for ordinary companies, agencies and studios - except that the nature of their output demanded a high degree of excellence and professionalism: it would be no good painting a full close-up of Charles Bronson, say, if it didn't look unmistakeably like him.
Because the text is data-heavy - sometimes a chronological account of who-did-what and who-went where - this doesn't necessarily make the book easy to read (although I personally found it hard to put down); and since each section needs to run chronologically, the reader finds himself being dobbed back and forth, somewhat.
The same is true for the reproduced posters, although this perhaps adds to the interest. A born neurotic, I listed my top ten posters initially - with subject matter as far-flung as Ronald Searle's excellent St Trinian's and `Nightmare on Elm Street', but found that I appreciated other posters as I learned what had gone into them.
5 out of 5 for a celebration of low-profile artisans who could nonetheless draw and paint a bit - quite a bit, actually.