RIP: National Lampoon Art Director Michael Gross

Late in life, Gross moved to Italy to paint and helped curate a San Diego-area museum.

When the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) counted down in 2005 the top 40 magazine covers of the preceding four decades, this came in at #7:

NationalLampoonJanuary1973

The January 1973 cover recalls a time when the combination of political correctness and social media outrage did not rain down on every effort that pushes past conventional lines. It also, per an obituary in The New York Times by William Grimes, is one of the many great pieces of work left behind by Michael Gross, the Harvard publication’s one-time art director. Gross, who died Monday at age 70 at his home in Southern California, worked with photographer Ronald G. Harris to fashion the above cover. He was also responsible for the Ghostbusters movie logo:

The ghost soon became one of the most recognizable and most imitated logos in popular culture. Mr. Gross, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph of London this year, said that he knew the image had gained traction when he saw it on the nose of a B-52 bomber at an air show.

“I looked at it and I laughed,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘So when I look out the window and I see the horizon light up with mushroom clouds, I’ll know that over Moscow my logo is dropping a missile.’”

RIP.