I Was a Teenage Sketchbook

The sensual, the surreal, the beauty we overlook on a daily basis, the dark urges, the exotic escapes; words and images by American artist, John Goss.

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John Goss was born in Santa Cindy and was raised and lives in Asia/Pacific. Learn more about John at Siamorama

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Confessions of a Monster Kid

Halloween clutched at my kiddy heart when I was three years old. I wanted to be a witch, and my modern parents, without fussing about gender appropriateness, conjured up one of those luridly boxed costume sets that included a pointy-hatted hag mask, glitter-tinted cape and harvest colored apron. I made my rounds of the neighborhood and fell in love with all the styled spookiness scented by smells of burning jack-o-lanterns.

Every birthday thereafter (since I was lucky to be born merely 10 days before All Hallows Eve) had found it's theme. Each year a patient birthday cake baker heard my long wish list for icing: a haunted house on a hill with bats and a dead tree moon shining through bare branches over a graveyard with emerging skeletons pumpkins creepy crawlies and BLACK ICING.

When I was five years old, I saw a movie trailer for a Coming Soon attraction: Jason and the Argonauts. I wanted so badly to see it but it took (what seemed like) forever to arrive in theaters so that I completely forgot about it until one night my Dad packed me into the car and drove us off into the night for a surprise screening. I was thrilled.

As the Wonder Bread metamorphosis sped me towards puberty, I met my closest friend yet, Luke Osteen, who showed me my first ever copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine and introduced me to the secret boys' world of sleepover dinosaur flashlight comicbook latenight thriller B movie bunkbed moonscapes. We were stay-up-late-into-the-morning outlaws awash in hormonal tides that amplified our ravenous cravings for the creative energy spun off by monsterous make-up, nostalgic silent films, gruesome tableux styled by fantastical filmmakers, and tempered by a built-in safety valve of rioteous laffs at rediculous puns by Forrest J Ackerman and Stan Lee.

Belonging to an extended family of other monster magazine collecting kids around the world was much headier stuff than being in a Webelos pack. My gang included werewolves, mummies, vampires, ghouls, and aliens. That world of crazy creatures inspired me to build, paint, draw, invent, perform and film. The inclusive universe of monster makers not only nourished my own budding talents but showed me ,time and again, that it was OK to be different and misunderstood; that there was a brilliant community that valued imagination over brawn and forgave girly softball throws and misfitness.

Monsters saved me from the train wreck reality of teenagehood in the midst of the social upheavals of the late 60s/early 70s and the unholy gore of the Vietnam War. They also primed me to appreciate the extraordinary renaissance of American art and pop culture that was in full bloom at the same time.


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