Got a real treat this morning. Went and spent some time with Ben Cook of Benton Card Company in Benson, NC. This printing business has been in Ben’s family for generations. From newspapers to gospel and country music posters (Aretha Franklin was a customer early in her career) to political signs, they’ve done quite a bit over the years. Including movie posters.
There were pieces for local theaters and drive-ins. And in the late 50s and early 60s, Benton Card had an arrangement with American International Pictures — working from the pressbooks, they printed 14×22 two- and three-color posters for stuff like Reptilicus and the Corman Poe films. AIP boasted some beautiful artwork during this period, some of it by the great Reynold Brown.
Ben showed me around the current operation downstairs, then all the old block type and printing equipment upstairs. They didn’t throw anything away. (I pulled a random pressbook out of their files and ended up with The Persuader, the 1957 Christian Western produced by Billy Graham’s production company!)
But what really knocked me out were the racks of posters. All labeled, some reprints, a few originals.
I felt like a kid in a candy store. I’ve bought a handful of Benton pieces over the years (Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, for one), and it was great to see where they came from.