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Famous Monsters of Filmland #11
Basil Gogos‘ rendition of the Godzilla-like reptilian giant Gorgo is a seminar in blending texture, color, modeling, and composition to create a superior magazine cover. The lighting effects lend a three-dimensional quality to the image, and the pockets of shadow cast by the light playing across the creature’s bumpy skin effectively suggest size. The 1/4-turn pose, coupled with the extended claws, further activate the image by creating a diagonal plane running from upper right to lower left.
The graphics are wisely limited in color palette and the cover space they consume. The yellow lettering pops against the blue background yet does not compete with the cover subject. This layout is a win all the way around
Famous Monsters of Filmland #12
Out of context this cover might seem a bit odd, with it’s sparse image and graphics, but in terms of grabbing eyes form the newsstand and avoiding repetition from previous cover designs, it is successful.
Wisely seeing no need to deviate at this point, FM once again retained the services of painter Basil Gogos, who rendered a rather furious looking Oliver Reed from Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf. With a modern eye, we may look at old Famous Monsters covers and think of the magazine as stuck in the old-school monster movie era, but it’s important to remember that Gorgo and Curse of the Werewolf were new films at the time they graced their respective covers.
Anyway, Gogos went with a limited (but not limiting!) color palette of black, red/orange, and yellow, and the minimal graphics match it note for note, save for the hint of green in the masthead. The floating head composition is somewhat weird and lacking in geometry, but the effect is striking nonetheless.
Famous Monsters of Filmland #13
If the artist is Gogos, it’s not one of his better works. The quality is rather more on par with that of previous cover artist Albert Nuetzell, which is to say it’s done in a respectable painterly style with good colors, but the composition is unremarkable otherwise. It’s recognizable as Frankenstein’s monster but seems slightly cartoonish, and the top half of the monster’s face is out of proportion to the bottom half.
The simplistic graphics do little damage to the overall effect, and the colors of the masthead connect well with the depiction of the cover subject. The font of the sidebar plugs is rather too large and clunky, though. Three plugs in a smaller font would probably foster a more harmonious balance.
Famous Monsters of Filmland #14
Regarding the positives, Gogos once again proves his skill as a portrait artist. This is definitively Price, right down to the musculature of the mouth and the wrinkled skin around the eyes. The slight head turn further livens the image by suggesting Price is reacting to something within his painted universe that we cannot see.
On the other hand, Gogos chose a fairly bland moment to depict. Furthermore, the colors are drab, and green and mustard-yellow lettering over the blue-green background gives the overall impression that the magazine is under water.
Famous Monsters of Filmland #15
The painting by Basil Gogos is a portrait of TV horror host Zacherly, the second time FM used his likeness for a cover. The rendering is much more detailed than Albert Nuetzell’s schematic rendering from issue 7, and you either love the kitschy “detached head floating in nightmare ether” effect, or, like me, you think it’s weird. Perhaps it’s a reference to events on Zacherly’s TV show, but out of context I see it as goofy. I also question whether a regional horror host warrants two covers in a little over a year.
On the plus side, the red and white backdrop is eye catching, and the masthead stands out nicely. The color palette shared between the artwork and the graphic is pleasing and smartly chosen, and the layout is uncluttered.
See you next time!
[image source: comicvine.com)