By Bratzilla Malcolm Gittins, and talked about two of his favorite pastimes: ghouls and art.
First of all, I have to say that walking into Malcolm’s world is like stepping out of some kind of super awesome time machine into the 1960s—thanks, in no small part, to the rabidly extensive, yet carefully cultivated, collection of Aurora Monster models, Famous Monsters of Filmland covers, vintage movie posters, and scream queen autographs that he has on display in his museum-like living room. But, admittedly, it was the stuff in the black portfolios labeled “Art,” and tucked inside his endearingly cluttered desk, that we were really there to see. Why? Well, because, while they appear modest on the outside, dozens of wild portraits lurk impatiently inside. And, I tell you, they’re enough to make any fan scream with delight.
Yep, from Wolfman and Dracula to Frankenstein and his beautiful bride, Malcolm has not only painstakingly painted them all, but he’s also done so with the love of a child who just saw his first cloaked figure creep across the television screen the night before. Needless to say, the explosive celebrations of classic creatures and vibrant color that result from such passion are absolutely fangtastic, earning the artist genuine endorsements from the likes of “Chilly Billy” Cardille and the lovely Linnea Quigley, as well as a recent Rondo Award nomination. As it turns out, Malcom’s wickedly good art comes with a heart to match too, and we are thrilled to introduce you to him here.
Pittsburgh Exhumed (PE): When were you first “bitten” by a monster and what were the circumstances surrounding this deadly occasion?
Malcolm (MG): I was five years old when my big sister took me to see King Kong vs. Godzilla. I wasn’t the same after that! And, I can honestly say that whatever I was going to be when I “grew up” forever changed that day, too.
MG: I’ve been creating art for as long as I can remember, but the first monster I drew was the Wolfman, which was inspired by Famous Monsters of Filmland #99. That awesome cover was painted by Basil Gogos.
PE: When did you begin working fulltime as an artist and what prompted that decision?
MG: The first showing of my art was at the Pittsburgh Comicon 10 years ago. But the first time my art was seen by the public was on Bill Cardille’s Chiller Theatre in January of ’76. It was Linnea Quigley who suggested that I do something with my art.
PE: Now, for a little fiendish fun. What classic horror film scares you the most and why?
MG: I guess it would be The Pit and the Pendulum—it’s the first movie I remember that really scared me. Another would have to be Black Sabbath.
PE: Wolfman or Dracula?
MG: I give the edge to the Wolfman.
PE: Christopher Lee or Vincent Price?
MG: That’s a hard one, but since I got to meet Vincent Price, I’d have to pick him.
PE: Elvira or Vampira?
MG: That’s a tie! Both are sexy for different reasons, and there is a difference between them. But since I’ve met Elvira, I’ll pick her!
MG: I’ve been going to cons for 30 years and I’ve been so lucky to have met so many people—none of whom I’d have ever thought I’d get to meet. But just to name a few … Caroline Munro, Veronica Carlson, David Hedison, Lara Parker, Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon, Linnea Quigley (see photo on left), Chilly Billy, Zacherley, Bob Burns, Erin Grey, Adam Wert, Pat Priest, Ben Chapman, Julie Adams, Ann Robinson, The Ghoul, Sarah Karloff, Chris Costello, and just so many more. I’m one very lucky Monster Kid, and I still get “star struck.”
PE: You have an extensive collection of memorabilia. When did you begin collecting and what are the five items that you cherish the most?
MG: My collection actually started with Famous Monsters #99, so that would be #1 on my list, but I have too many cool things to just pick five!
PE: What do you hope to inspire in others who view your paintings?
MG: I’m not sure I’ve ever inspired anyone, but I do get asked what medium I work in, how long I’ve been painting and what inspired me. I do tell people not to give up on their dreams.
P.S. As you can see, Malcolm is a humble man, so we will end with our own shameless plug on the artist’s behalf. As the holidays approach, and you start looking for the perfect gift for a ghoul on your list, visit his Facebook page to browse a spooktacular selection of creepy Christmas cards, prints and other ghastly goods that’ll revive any undead heart. You won’t be sorry!