Ocean City took time to pay tribute to "the Norman Rockwell of monsters" on Monday (Sept. 30) as a new exhibit of Frankenstein artwork opened a month-long run.
Basil Gogos received the 2013 Franky Award — presented each year to someone who has paid added to the Frankenstein legend.
Gogos' illustrations are part of a collection of Frankenstein-themed art, magazines, cartoons, music, cutouts and figures on display in the atrium outside the Ocean City Free Public Library (1735 Simpson Avenue) throughout October. The exhibit is free and open the same hours as the Ocean City Community Center.
The exhibit features the Frankenstein collection of local actor-artist Ron MacCloskey who said on Monday that he has always been fascinated by "that beautiful ugly face that has lasted over 80 years." MacCloskey's extensive collection features some of the country’s most famous artists and illustrators.
MacCloskey said he remembers a time when Frankenstein movies and magazines and figures were part of popular culture.
"I just never grew up," he said.
MacCloskey created the Franky Award, and previous recipients include writer/actor Gene Wilder, makeup genius Jack Pierce and actor Bela Lugosi.
This year's recipient, Gogos, is best known for his portraits of movie monsters on the covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in the 1960s and 1970s.
"I wound up painting monsters," Gogos said on Monday. "How, I don't know."
The original story of Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley 116 years ago when she was just 18. In her novel, she hardly described the look of the monster. This left it to three talented movie men — director James Whale, make-up artist Jack Pierce and actor Boris Karloff — to create the image that lives with us today.
The Frankenstein image has been prominent in drawings for over 80 years, notes MacCloskey. It has been used in single-panel cartoons, comic strips, greeting cards, advertisements, stamps, political cartoons, Halloween decorations, record album covers and even lottery tickets — many of which are on exhibit.
“You will be amazed about how artists have taken this one kind of look and used it over and over again, but always with a different point of view,” MacCloskey said.
He has been an avid collector of Frankenstein memorabilia since he was 7 years old.
In conjunction with the October exhibit, “Jeepers Creepers … It’s Boris, Karloff,” a tribute show dedicated to the life and career of the actor, will be performed 7 p.m. Oct. 25 (Frankenstein Friday) in Lecture Room N110 at the Library. The show will feature MacCloskey, his daughter Rachel along with video clips. The same presentation received critical acclaim when it premiered at Lincoln Center in 2011.