Blade Runner 1982 — Artifacts

Years before becoming the co-creator of the graphic novel Argent Starr, Altemus was the designer and Art Director of the official magazines for seventeen sci-fi and fantasy movies produced throughout the ’80s and ’90s. These were licensed products, published by Ira Friedman Inc. The first one of those Altemus and Ira ever did was for Blade Runner.

Production on the Blade Runner magazine started in late 1981, with an on-sale date only ten days prior to the film’s release in June. The publisher Ira Friedman insisted on making a quality product, with solid editorial, good printing and color separations and a lot of creative freedom. These magazines were great projects, usually 64 pages of behind-the-scenes and making-of info, coupled with a basic telling of the story. Durring this magazine’s making, information at times was sketchy, and as various script changes came through, Altemus who minored in film in College, felt it was a bit like trying mind-read the final edit from the raw materials. The publications had no ads, lots of color, great images, access to props, scripts, dailies, production materials and a good Editor with access to the entire top level cast and crew for interviews. For instance, the Philip K. Dick interview done for the magazine is the last one he gave, before passing away.

At the time they were working on the project, Altemus was also teaching a college course on magazine design and production, and held onto some materials that would normally be destroyed or distributed, to illustrate how a magazine is produced from start to finish, (that is, as of 1982). All the materials shared here come from that package, squirreled away in a flat file, for thirty-five years.

More on the magazine


The envelope and contents from the 1982 Blade Runner magazine’s production.


Over the next two decades Ira Friedman and Altemus would collaborate on many more official movie magazines for iconic films such as; Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Back To The Future, Goonies, Gremlins, Howard The Duck, Jurassic Park, Batman, Batman Returns, Batman & Robin, Batman Forever, and Star Wars.

In addition to the items listed here, the collection includes layout thumbnails, an artwork inventory, publishing schedule, a magazine production check list, color proofs, progressive color separation press-proofs, as well as page and cover mechanicals.

Altemus, also an illustrator at the time, created the magazine’s 11” x 17” centerfold movie poster, featuring the main cast and sets from the film. We will be posting some images of that piece in a separate post.

The look of the film was a definite influence on the visuals in the sci-noir universe depicted in Argent Starr. In pulling out his old files on this magazine he found a trove of material that should interest fans of the film.

In honor of the release of the new Blade Runner 2049, we will be posting images and info from this magazine.

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A flip of the Blade Runner movie’s magazine, designed and Art Directed by Altemus. Copies for sale on Amazon

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This short video shows an image of a 4×5 chrome, taken directly from a 70mm workprint film frame and preserved by Altemus, from the 1982 film Blade Runner. It’s an FX shot of the prominently featured Tyrell building, and has the image code “FX47D” handwritten in the margin. This frame was lifted directly from a work print by the film’s production team and sent for inclusion in the official Blade Runner souvenir magazine being designed by Altemus.  More on the Tyrell building

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This is an original signed production drawing, dated 1980. This pencil sketch on vellum, is an early version of Deckard’s pistol designed by the film’s assistant art director Stephen Dane, and based on a compact .357 magnum. The drawing was sent by the production team for inclusion in the official Blade Runner souvenir magazine. The final version of Deckard’s gun used in the film, was actually based on a design created by Syd Mead. This sketch is very similar to ones included in the Blade Runner Sketchbook (1982), originally published on Oct 27, 2011 and currently out of print.

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Six black & white location scouting snapshots of the Victorian-era Bradbury building, which Altemus collaged together to produce an overall view, were used on page 53 of the magazine. This distinctive local has been called the most famous building in science fiction, and has been used in a number of TV shows and movies over the years, including The Outer Limits, Wolf, Quantum Leap, The Night Strangler, Star Trek and many more. More on this location from Gizmodo

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The last page page of the script, marked-up in pencil and red pencil for typesetting. We received all scripts and script changes, as a resource for producing the magazine. During the publication’s production, no less than five endings to the film were floated. Since these pages are marked-up for typesetting, this version, written in 1981 by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, must have been still viable fairly late in the film’s production cycle. These pages are noteworthy in that the final shot differs significantly from the released film. It insinuates that Deckard is a replicant and that Gaff is in hot pursuit! More on the script at

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