Basil Gogos (1939 – 2017), painter who turned movie monsters into pop art
Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic
“Famous Monsters of Filmland” cover illustrator
By: Legacy Staff
He lured monsters out of the dark and painted them with screamingly vivid hues. Artist Basil Gogos mixed realism with hallucinatory color to create some of the most memorable images of movie monsters ever illustrated.
Gogos died Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, according to an announcement made on his Facebook page. The 78-year-old leaves behind a body of work adored by fans of horror and fantasy.
He may not be a household name, but his paintings have been a part of popular culture for decades. In 1960 he began illustrating the covers of “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” a groundbreaking magazine celebrating horror movies and their fandom. His lurid paintings of stars like Vincent Price and Christopher Lee — and iconic characters like Dracula and Frankenstein — dared readers to pick up a copy.
Many of the films were in black & white, but on canvas Gogos would bathe his subjects in every color of the rainbow. He reveled in the grotesque, but somehow made his monsters sympathetic and appealing. For fans, he became the gold standard of horror illustration, inspiring many stylistic imitators.
Some fans who grew up seeing his artwork on magazines later became his patrons. Musicians in particular, like Rob Zombie, and The Misfits, commissioned him to create album artwork.
Today it's more common than ever for pop-culture horror to be seriously as art. But Gogos's paintings took that art seriously all along, making the creatures who go bump in the night fit for a gallery wall.