BASIL WOLVERTON (July 9, 1909 – December 31, 1978) was an American
cartoonist and illustrator, and "Producer of Preposterous Pictures of
Peculiar People who Prowl this Perplexing Planet." His many publishers
Marvel Comics and Mad magazine.
His drawings have elicited a wide range of reactions.
Elder said he found Wolverton's technique "outrageously inventive,
defying every conventional standard yet upholding a very unusual sense
of humor. He was a refreshing original." But
Jules Feiffer stated, "I
don't like his work. I think it's ugly."
He was posthumously inducted into the comic book industry's Jack
Kirby Hall of Fame in 1991.
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life and career
Powerhouse Pepper and Lena the Hyena
* 1.3 Mad
* 1.4 Later career
* 2 Personal life
* 3 Bibliography
* 3.1 Books
* 4 References
* 5 External links
EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Wolverton as a senior in high school, 1927.
Born in Central Point , Oregon, he later moved to Vancouver ,
Washington , and worked as a vaudeville performer and a cartoonist and
reporter for the Portland News. At age 16 he sold his first nationally
published work and began pitching comic strips to newspaper
syndicates. His comic strip , Marco of Mars, was accepted by the
Independent Syndicate of New York in 1929 but never distributed
because it was deemed too similar to
Buck Rogers , which debuted that
Disk-Eyes the Detective and Spacehawks were published in 1938 in
Circus comics. In 1940, Spacehawk (a different and improved feature)
made its debut in Target Comics , published by
Novelty Press . It ran
for 30 episodes (262 pages) until 1942.
Other Wolverton characters include Scoop Scuttle, a newspaperman who
ran as a backup feature in
Lev Gleason Publications ' Daredevil Comics
and Silver Streak Comics; and Mystic Moot and his Magic Snoot in
Fawcett Publications ' Comic Comics and Ibis The Invincible. "Bingbang
Buster and his Horse Hedy" was a three-page backup story in Lev
Gleason's Black Diamond Western #16–28 (1950–1952).
POWERHOUSE PEPPER AND LENA THE HYENA
Wolverton's humor feature
Powerhouse Pepper , about a superstrong if
none-too-bright boxer , appeared in various comic books published by
Timely Comics , the 1930s and 1940s precursor of
Marvel Comics , from
1942 through 1952. The strip was characterized by alliterative,
rhyming dialogue, screwball comedy and throwaway gags in background.
The Timely titles, such as Joker Comics , Gay Comics and Tessie the
Typist , debuted a number of his spin-off characters and features,
including Flap Flipflop, The Flying Flash (who later appeared in
Charlton Comics ' Jack in the Box #13), Leanbean Green, "Cartoon Crime
Mystery" featuring Inspector Hector the Crime Detector, Doc Rockblock,
"Picture Poems about Peculiar People", "Funny Boners", Dauntless
Dawson, "Hothead Hotel", "Bedtime Bunk", "Foolish Faces" and more.
Five issues of a
Powerhouse Pepper comic book were released in 1943
and 1948 by Timely, but not all the covers were by Wolverton and many
interior pages were also not devoted to Wolverton strips. Li\'l
Abner daily strip by
Al Capp , introducing Basil Wolverton's "Lena the
In 1946, Wolverton won a contest to depict "Lena the Hyena", the
world's ugliest woman, a running gag in
Al Capp 's Li\'l Abner
newspaper strip where Lena remained unseen beneath an editorial note
stating her face had been covered to protect readers. Capp, responding
to popular demand, announced a contest for artists to submit their
interpretations. Among 500,000 entries, Wolverton's was the winner;
it appeared in a
Li'l Abner daily and Life magazine. Wolverton's fame
briefly led to Life and Pageant printing his caricatures. The Lena
portrait typified the unique "spaghetti and meatballs" style he
employed regularly thereafter.
In the 1950s, Wolverton produced 17 comic-book horror and
science-fiction stories for Marvel and other comic-book publishers,
including one story by author
Daniel Keyes , which led to him being
"hailed for creating uniquely grotesque monsters". Among these tales
were "The Brain Bats of Venus" for Mister Mystery #7 and "Where
Monsters Dwell" in Marvel's Adventures into Terror #7, the title of
which was later used for a 1970s Marvel reprint series.
Wolverton first appeared in Mad with a single panel in #10, drew Mad
Reader! for #11 and also contributed an iconic Lena-like image to the
cover of #11, which was billed as the "Beautiful Girl of the Month".
Although Wolverton contributed sporadically to the title—appearing
in just nine issues over two decades—his work was memorable enough
that, in 2009,
The New York Times
The New York Times dubbed him "The Michelangelo of Mad
Magazine". E.C.'s other humor title, Panic, edited by Al Feldstein
(who later became Mad's editor for 30 years) also used Wolverton's art
on a Panic cover, though publisher William M. Gaines was not a fan of
Wolverton's work. Other humor magazines from other companies such as
Cracked , From Here to Insanity and Cockeyed also featured Wolverton's
work, as did an issue of Ballyhoo.
In 1968, Wolverton did the Ugly Posters series of trading cards for
Topps , displaying his trademark twisted headshots.
In 1973, he returned to mainstream comics, illustrating several
Joe Orlando 's satiric
DC Comics .
Comix Book , a
joint production of
Marvel Comics and
Denis Kitchen 's Kitchen Sink
Press , featured two strips by Wolverton, "Calvin" and "Weird
Wolverton was baptized into
Herbert W. Armstrong
Herbert W. Armstrong 's Radio Church of
God in 1941 and was ordained as an elder in 1943. As a board member of
that church, he was one of the six people, including Armstrong and his
wife, who re-incorporated the church in 1946 when it moved its
original headquarters from Oregon to California. Wolverton died on
December 31, 1978, at age 69.
Wolverton's son, editorial cartoonist
Monte Wolverton , draws in a
style similar to his father's; the younger Wolverton also worked for
The Plain Truth and contributed to Mad. Several cartoonists have been
influenced by Wolverton's "spaghetti-and-meatball" style, including Ed
"Big Daddy" Roth .
Books by Wolverton or collecting his work include:
* The Bible Story (1982)
* Wolvertoons: The Art of
Basil Wolverton (1990) (ISBN 1-56097-022-7
* Wolverton in Space (1997) (ISBN 1-56971-238-7 )
* Basil Wolverton's
Powerhouse Pepper (2001) (ISBN 1-56097-148-7 )
Basil Wolverton Reader Vol.1 (2003) (ISBN 1-56685-017-7 )
Basil Wolverton Reader Vol.2 (2004) (ISBN 1-56685-027-4 )
* Basil Wolverton: Agony ">
Basil Wolverton at the
* ^ Both quotes from Wolvertoons: The Art of Basil Wolverton,
edited by Dick Voll. (
Fantagraphics Books , 1990) ISBN 1-56097-022-7 ,
* ^ A B C Vadeboncoeur, Jim, Jr. "Illustrators: \'by Basil
Wolverton\'". JVJ Publishing. Archived from the original on June 8,
2011. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
* ^ A B C D E
Basil Wolverton at the
Grand Comics Database
* ^ Lee, Stan. Secrets Behind the Comics (Famous Enterprises,
1947), p. 81.
* ^ Stanley, John. "Comics That Draw Gasps, Not Smiles", San
Francisco Chronicle , Sunday, September 25, 2005, pp. PK – 24.
* ^ "The Michelangelo of Mad Magazine" (slideshow), The New York
Times , n.d.
* ^ Stewart, Bhob (February 1, 2010). "
Topps #6: Basil Wolverton".
Potrzebie. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved
January 6, 2013.
* ^ Dewey, Pamela Starr. "The Worldwide Church of God". Field Guide
to the Wild World of Religion. Retrieved September 15, 2012.