Friday, September 15, 2017
RIP Basil Gogos (1929-2017)
And now I've just heard that Basil has passed away the day before yesterday, September 13, at age 88 (though some Internet sources list him some 20 years younger), in time for him to have sent me that waking thought. No cause has been reported.
Upon the death of Boris Karloff in February 1969, Warren Publications wisely arranged for Gogos' return, and his elegiac portrait of Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster for the cover of FM's Karloff Memorial issue (# 56) proved an instant classic. Looking back, in some ways, this cover and issue were my introduction to the mourning process and something in me, now, wants to relight its beautifully rendered candle for Basil.
The return of Gogos to the covers of FAMOUS MONSTERS was the beginning of a second and even longer streak of classic cover paintings: Jonathan Frid as DARK SHADOWS' Barnabas Collins; Fredric March as Mr. Hyde; Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray; Vincent Price in HOUSE OF WAX. But within the year, the magazine resorted to another recycling, this time of Lon Chaney's razor-toothed vampire from LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, FM's cover for #20 reformatted for #69. As fans, we patiently awaited the next Gogos cover. His last for the magazine came with an extraordinary portrait of Prudence Hyman as Hammer's THE GORGON for the cover of FM 179, in 1981. In a terrible lapse of judgement, a photograph of Arnold Schwarzeneggar from CONAN THE BARBARIAN was allowed to intrude upon and share the composition.
Since his passing was announced on Facebook last night, I have seen countless postings on my news feed by artists who have said, in their own ways, much the same thing - and I realized from this outpouring of gratitude that Basil Gogos was not just a seminal cultural figure but a germinal one; he presented to us largely untapped territory that was there for everyone's future mining. And the most wonderful thing about this influence of Gogos is that everyone he inspired paints differently; no one really paints like him. Basil remains unique. What his students derive from his example is permission to paint monsters with love and empathy and joy and absolute freedom.
Valé to the great Gogos, who taught so many of us how to see in the dark.
(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.
Posted by Tim Lucas at Friday, September 15, 2017