What do you get when incredible art meets famous movie monsters? You get a very happy, super excitable Wendy, that’s what.
We’re all familiar with the most famous “Master” artists and their works. Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Sandro Botticelli, just to name a few. On sight, almost anyone can identify Michelangelo’s stoic statue of David, or his magnificent Pieta, where the lifeless body of our Lord lies draped across the Virgin’s lap. Or the beautiful Sistine Chapel ceiling, with its hundreds of Biblical figures suspended high above the heads of visitors. Or Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” with that ghostly, ownerless hand grasping a knife. We would all recognize Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, and Salvador Dali’s famous depiction of melting clocks, “The Persistence of Memory”.
But master artists and their paintings are not confined to the walls of prestigious galleries and museums. And if you grew up in the ’60s or ’70s, and were a fan of monster fanzines, then you’ve likely held many gallery-quality masterpieces in your own two hands.
The man behind these striking, gloriously colourful monster portraits is Basil Gogos, a name that is probably not as recognizable to you as any of the artists I mentioned above. But his art speaks for itself — he is no less talented. For decades, his paintings have graced the covers of countless paperback books and men’s magazines. In his early years, he illustrated pulp, pin-ups and peril.
But it’s Gogos’s monstrous horror star portraits, created for the fanzine “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” that he’s best known for. Vincent Price’s gaunt and ghastly face from “House of Usher” was Gogos’s first contribution to the magazine, appearing on the cover of issue #9 in November 1960.
FMoF was produced by Warren Publishing, who clearly loved Gogos, featuring more of his iconic artwork on the covers of their similar magazine publications “Creepy” and “Eerie”.
Gogos is an incredible artist who continues to illustrate the creatures of our nightmares, painting newer, more modern monsters as well as the classics we all know and love.
His style is unmistakable. Realistic with just a touch of Impressionistic flair in the visible brushstrokes, Basil Gogos’s use of colour just grabs the viewer’s attention. Imagine being a kid in the ’60s, walking down the street and seeing one of Gogos’s colourful covers sitting on a newsstand. Who wouldn’t pick one up?
Truly he’s one of the greatest American illustrators of our time. (And he’s still alive!) What Basil Gogos captures in his monstrous portraits is the spirit of the character, the soul of the actors portraying them, and the fun that defined horror from the 1930s to the late ’70s.
When the Royal Family need a portrait done, they sit for Richard Stone. Kate Middleton was painted by Paul Emsley. One of Andy Warhol’s best-known works is a portrait of Marilyn Monroe. And when Lisa Gherardini sat for Leonardo Da Vinci, her portrait made her one of the most famous women in history. Some people may think that having their likeness immortalized by one of these masters would be the ultimate achievement. But me?
I want my portrait painted by Basil Gogos.
Until next time, unpleasant dreams . . .