Basil Gogos, the artist who created beautiful renderings of classic movie monsters and horror actors, passed away earlier this month at the age of 88. The prolific artist was famous for his brilliant covers of magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Rue Morgue, or even more recently from his stylized cover art for Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe CD.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt to parents of Greek descent, the artist’s family eventually immigrated to America where he attended art schools and began plying his craft. He worked as an illustrator for adventure stories in various men’s magazines, but it was a commission from Jim Warren in 1960 that first brought him commercially into the world of monsters.
Warren wanted a cover photo of Vincent Price in Roger Corman’s House of Usher for the latest issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and Gogos was happy to comply, though he was so nervous with his finished product that he refused to deliver it by hand, and had it delivered by messenger instead. Warren was so pleased he immediately called the artist and thanked him. That call forged an artistic alliance that would last throughout the careers of both men.
Gogos was soon famous, not only for the lifelike quality of his paintings, but also for the humanity he instilled in the monsters he painted. Often working from black and white stills, Gogos would let his imagination take over with colors that created moods and emotion where few could have captured them. His breathtaking portrait of Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster in 1969 may be one of the most beautiful he ever created.
Take a look through the photos below and help us remember this amazing man and his brilliant work.