Basil Gogos is an artist and illustrator best known for his striking, often colourful portraits of movie monsters that appeared on the covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in the 1960s and 70s.
Basil Gogos was born to Greek parents in Egypt and his family emigrated to the USA when he was a child. From a young age he displayed a tremendous aptitude for art and spent much time studying his craft at various New York schools, including The National School of Design, The Phoenix School of Design and The School of Visual Arts. His early muse was the American artist, Frank J. Reilly, whose vivid, painted compositions were a clear influence on Gogos’s own later works.
During the 1960’s, Gogos honed his trade working as an illustrator for numerous ‘men’s adventure’ magazines; lurid, outlandish depictions of voluptuous damsels being attacked/saved/gawped at by brutes, savages and macho heroes. Occasionally, to spice things up even further, the roles would be reversed for even more salacious reading.
This paintings soon led to work for the renowned comic publisher, Warren, whose early science fiction, horror and fantasy exploits included Monster World, Creepy and Eerie (and eventually Vampirella). Gogos’s first work for Warren was for Forrest J Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland, which had been running since 1958. By 1960, it was already up to issue 9, and Gogos graced the cover with his interpretation of Vincent Price in House of Usher.
Over the next twenty years, Gogos continued his association with the publication, his paintings of some of the most recognisable creatures, heroes and villains from classic horror films becoming almost as iconic as the original visions. Although he also had work published in the likes of Creepy, Eerie, Spaceman, Wildest Westerns and The Spirit, it was always to Ackerman he returned.
Gogos often captured his subjects in an array of vivid colours using a technique in which the artist imagined the character bathed in colours from multiple light sources. His sympathetic techniques extended to lending a certain pathos to the monsters, giving them a tortured depiction in the same manner Universal also portrayed their ‘baddies’ as unfortunate souls struggling with their lot.
By the late 1970’s, horror comics were giving way to the likes of Fangoria and other film magazines which showed pictures of the guts and gore in photographic form, appealing to blood-hungry kids and adults alike. Gogos turned to fine art, revisiting many of his old paintings and creating sumptuous, incredibly detailed works. His work has, however, remained hugely popular, finding its way onto collectors cards, books and album covers by artists such as Rob Zombie, The Misfits and Electric Frankenstein.
A coffee table book, Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos, edited by Kerry Gammill and J. David Spurlock, was published and in 2006 Gogos received The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards’ special Monster Kid Hall of Fame award for his contributions to the field of classic horror. Original works by Gogos can command prices of many hundreds of dollars.
Daz Lawrence, Horrorpedia