The Dude Speaks – Interview with Poster Designer Thomas Hodge

The Dude Speaks – Interview with Poster Designer Thomas Hodge

Well make me a ham sandwich and call me Granny! It’s been awhile since my last contribution to the ole’ Blood Sprayer, but that’s with good reason. You see, I’ve been undercover for the past few months as part of a sooper-secret strike force sent to infiltrate and interview the ominous artist known only as… “The Dude.”

Okay, so maybe some of you have already discovered this man’s true identity (Thomas Hodge), but far fewer have ever been offered a glimpse into this mad creator’s lair of secrets. This is, until now. Under strict instructions to refer to him only as “The Dude” I was invited for a one on one with the man behind some of the most hideously beautiful movie posters since the 70s and 80s including Hobo with a Shotgun, Madison County and more recently Ti West’s The Innkeepers. He even snagged the Toronto After Dark Festival’s Award for Best Poster on Fathers Day! It was dangerous work, but someone had to do it… right? Right?!

So just who is “The Dude?” Family man, Man of Action or otherworldly, artistic anomaly?

Well in the words of Matt Berry, it has been said that I am a gentleman but never a gentle man… [raises eyebrow, tokes cigar, swigs whiskey!]. But really I’m just hear to warp minds, degrade sensibilities and hopefully improve the state of film posters and video covers! People have been getting short changed for too long and its time to raise the bar again… speaking of which… WHISKEY!!!

The real question is, do I make the video covers and posters or do they make me!? To quote the AC/DC in Stephen King’s celluloid masterpiece Maximum Overdrive: “Who made who!”

Ahem. Yes, your name has become somewhat synonymous with a new wave of grindhouse/exploitation films. Just how did “The Dude” get so popular with the indie film scene?

Integrity, passion, drive plus a lot of blood sweat and tears… they may have been someone else’s blood, sweat and tears but still its the thought that counts. It didn’t just happen over night, though. I’ve paid my dues. You see I traveled the world far and wide to discover the finest movie poster artist in history… but most of them are sadly now deceased. So, I dug them up them and thanks to the help of some 2-4-5 Trioxin I now have the zombified remains of John Alvin, Richard Amsel, Reynold Brown and Bob Peak in my basement… and there pretty pissed, let me tell you!

I keep them sustained on the brains of fresh young studio execs and with my zombie army of great poster artists I’m hoping to take over THE WORLD!!!

The Dude has been doing this style of artwork for years now with Curzon Cinema’s Midnight Movies and Arrow Video, but how have things changed since Hobo with a Shotgun?

Well, I’ve been on the run ever since spending many a sleepless night, frankly its ruined my life! Before I started that gig I had a good job with Sony PlayStation, an expensive flat in Camden in central London, with a busy social life partying at night… now I no longer have my job, I’ve lost my flat and I’ve moved to Cheam… have you ever been to CHEAM?!?

Can’t say that I have, though I did hear it’s the birthplace of Darth Vader.

I’ve had to totally devote my life to this demon of design slaving around the clock working 7 days a week with just bread and water to sustain me… All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy.

Um… should I call someone?

All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy. All work and no play make the dude a dull boy…

Let’s try another question. So, how is a piece typically “conceived?” Does it ever involve illicit activities that would be considered “too hot for TV?”

Well it does involve some illicit activities but as I’ve said to my girlfriend “don’t be disturbing me between the hours of 7 – 9. That’s private time, I’m just vacuuming my studio!!!”

I like to pitch myself as more of a Creative Director when taking on a commission rather than just a designer or illustrator who a marketing representative then tells what to do, so I’m not sure if working with me follows the same lines as your average design agency. I try to really dissect a film, pull out its plot line open up the visual style and really get balls deep into the story line!

Sounds like things can get pretty intense when you’re “in the zone” huh?

I want to expose all the entrails of a movie so the viewer can experience the true guts of a film. There’s always some struggling which goes on as people are now programmed to the modern thinking of film poster designs (which are very derivative) or the they want to recreate what’s been done before, but I like to try and treat each film differently. It does puts a lot of pressure on a piece so I can be driven quite mad by some designs, the neighbors must be kept awake by the screams most nights. Essentially the more people hopefully enjoy the designs – and the better they go down – I can really carve out a name for myself and gain the trust of the big studios to work my magic. I’m just waiting for the call!!

What are a few ground rules The Dude does not abide by when creating his work?

Well every rule is meant to be broken and I’m sure as the clients get bigger the more I’ll be pushed down dark seedy alleyways and violated in ways I rather wouldn’t be! At the moment I try to keep things very true to the old school of film poster design only having elements which where achievable back in the 70’s or 80’s – no bevels, embossing or Photoshop effects. Also, I don’t really want to go down a floating head route or make a film out to be something which it isn’t (which is something I have ran into in the past being asked to create something so ridiculous which has nothing to do with the film and was also aiming just ripping off another design for an independent film. It wasn’t fair on several counts, the independent film worked hard to create characters and story elements which I was then able to bring out in the poster that the company would just be completely sapping off of! I also felt the viewer might be mightily pissed upon watching a film expecting to see one thing and getting another.

My job is selling the film for people, and I am a Commercial Artist. Where do you draw the line though… its an interesting question I guess!?

Name one iconic poster hanging on his wall that The Dude cherishes above all.

At the moment I only have video covers covering the walls due to a lack of space. I can get more of them up there! But I do love a film poster that Ace Marrero, producer of Madison County sent me for working on there film poster. Its a massive (over 6ft high) Italian poster for Death Wish 3!

What are some of The Dude’s favourite films?

Oh man… well I love The Thing, Night of the Living Dead (I actually quite like the bizarre coloured version as it gives the whole thing this twisted comic book feel), The Shining, PontyPool – totally blew me away – Session 9… I also like Friday the 13th 3D, as well as the Big Lebowski (of course) and let’s not go forgetting Smokey and the Bandit or Gator! Then there’s Big Trouble in Little China… the list goes on!

The poster for Dear God No! was released last month and now you’ve got a one sheet for Madison County that just came out. Does The Dude ever sleep?

I should also have a design for Hypothermia coming out soon, two more Arrow covers, a German DVD cover for Super… and a piece I did for Music Director Chris Marrs Pilieros’ Howlin’ for You video went up in a gallery exhibition in LA about music video inspired art. PLUS I’ve been working on more concept based stuff with an exciting job I took on for a pitch James Wan was doing. Whether that will get to the next stage is TBC though, so basically “no.” Nor do I go out much these days! I’m definitely becoming a design hermit!!!

Does The Dude ever sell prints of his work online?

In time. I do a lot of my jobs on a commission basis where I sign over rights which prevents me from immediately selling prints, but after a while I’m sure I will. Its also a matter of working out the costs and time at the moment. But hey, if Mondo ever contacts me I’m sure something will come out. I’m hoping to release some video cover-inspired prints of the posters which will be affordable for people and different enough from the commissioned posters to be able to sell!

How would The Dude prefer to die… splinter through the eye or eaten alive by ants.

The DUDE WILL NEVER DIE! I’ll be here for ever, and ever… AND EVER! [takes another toke from cigar]

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Rondal is a full-fledged horror fan and die hard "strange kid" who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced vigor with a side of unadulterated violence. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club, a virtual clubhouse of adolescent enthusiasm in addition to being Co-Editor of Fuel Your Illustration and an occasional contributor to the video game blog, StartFrag.


  1. […] An interview i recently did for bloodsprayer, this one has tongue firmly in cheek as Rondal the writer wanted to interview the man behind the man… ?!?!So i squeezed into my ever shrinking 70′s western suit cracked out the Cubans poured a dram of whiskey and sat down to talk as ‘the dude’ exploitation poster designer extraordinaire and all round social degenerate!! HERE […]

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