- Arts and Design
Basil Gogos - Legends of Fantasy Art vol.5
"I have met some of the actors who portrayed film monsters, but much to my regret, I never met Karloff. I must have painted him a dozen times. I respected Karloff as an actor, and at the same time loved him, as by all accounts a good man. So long, dear friend, you are missed." Basil Gogos.
Basil Gogos is an artist best known for his covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
He was born in Egypt to Greek parents. Date of birth unknown. He and his family emigrated to America when he was aged 16.
Gogos spent his youth studying art at several New York schools including The National School of Design, The Phoenix School of Design and The School of Visual Arts. His first cover painting was for a western paperback called Pursuit, which was published in 1959.
In the 1960’s he was painting covers for men’s adventure magazines, usually depicting an action scene with voluptuous women in torn clothing somewhere in the picture.
But it was his covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine that would make him a fan favourite. Famous Monsters was first published in 1958, the publisher was James Warren (1930-) and the editor the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman (1916-2008).
The magazine was very popular in it’s time and the only place where you would find features on the making of King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula and other classic genre movies. It was also filled with rare photos. Famous Monsters is still published today under new management.
Basil Gogos first Famous Monsters cover was a painting of Vincent Price from Roger Corman’s House of Usher, issue #9 published in 1960.
Some of his cover paintings were for, The Phantom of the Opera, House of Wax, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman, Godzilla, Bride of Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Mad Love, The Ghoul, Nosferatu and The Exorcist.
He also painted portraits of horror greats like Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
Other magazines Gogos has provided cover art for include – Creepy, Eerie, Spacemen, Adventure, Man’s Conquest and World of Men
In the 80’s Basil Gogos took a break from magazine covers for a while, working on fine art and creating personal work. He returned to the horror genre in the 1990’s producing artwork for magazines like Fangoria and Monsterscene.
A book showcasing his artwork for monster movie magazines was published in 2005 by Vanguard Productions titled – The Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos. Edited by Kerry Gammill and J. David Spurlock and includes over 150 full colour paintings in 160 glossy pages.
An excerpt from a Basil Gogos interview by Hallowrama.com:
H-RAMA. I was always into the Universal Monsters and discovered your artwork and your book and was absolutely blown away by the portraits. They’re incredible. Did you have an interest in the Universal Monsters or were you hired as an illustrator at first?
Basil Gogos. I was interested , I saw all of them like everyone else when I was twelve years old, but I went on to become an illustrator and it turned out to be just another illustration I had to do which led me into the monsters that I know. There was no preconceived idea, as an illustrator you just do what comes up and this was something that came up, which was issue no.9 with Vincent Price as Roderick Usher. So it was just another job really that had to be done in a very strange way or not a way that I was familiar with. But as it turned out the publisher loved it.
H-RAMA. I know you love the work you have done and the monsters and the characters, but do you ever want to have that part of your work to be set aside for a little bit so people can take notice of all of your other work?
BG. Not really, I have visions of doing other things of course, classical art or fine art. I have a number of paintings I want to do. I do monsters now because people want to see me do monsters and not only that, I have commissions one after another and in a way there’s no time to do anything else although I would love to sit down and do something that’s completely different in the way that the old masters painted.