The Original Art of Basil Wolverton
From The Collection of Glen Bray
The hilarious spaghetti-and-meatball style caricature art of Basil Wolverton has been a huge influence on art luminaries such as Robert Crumb, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Robert Williams, Drew Freidman, and others. This is the first time that the work of one of comicdom's major legacies has been presented in a fine art tome.
"I hate this cliche, but it's true, Basil Wolverton's art BLEW MY MIND!!! He's the main inspiration for me to do what I do AND the first to appreciate the beauty in ugliness... I even love his name!" -Drew Friedman.
"Use this. It's the best blurb I ever wrote. Nature lays a star-nosed mole, a diatom, and a pangolin in the table. Humanity faintly cracks a smile, leans forward, and slaps Basil Wolverton face up on the pile and rakes in the chips." -Gary Panter.
"Wolverton is one of the greatest of the greats, a never-duplicated one-of-a-kind comic-book genius whose work holds the same visceral impact today as it did 50 years ago. Do not miss this opportunity to study and scrutinize these original pages." -Dan Clowes.
"The first time I ever saw the work of Basil Wolverton was on the cover of MAD number 11, in 1954. I was eleven years old and it changed forever the way that I looked at the world." -R. Crumb.
"In the middle of the 20th century the audacious cartoon style of Basil Wolverton was considered, at best, silly. But his lurid drawings didn't go unnoticed by a few artists of the day. In the 1950s noted cartoonists such as Jack Davis, Harvey Kurtzman and Wallace Wood caught his virus. Later, such luminaries as Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Robert Crumb and even Walt Disney Studios fell under his spell. And, in all due respect, I myself contracted inspiration from his infectious imagination." -Robt. Williams.
"Basil Wolverton's gift to the world is cartoon distortion as icky visual wit. It's yuck for yucks." -Kaz.
"I first discovered the work of Basil Wolverton in the form of his astonishing portraits of John L. Lewis and Joseph Stalin gracing the pages of a 1946 Life Magazine. His drawing technique could be described as the "spaghetti-and-meatballs" style. John L.'s hedgerow eyebrows and Stalin's ropey moustache still burn in my kid memory. Words cannot describe Basil's parade of grotesque characters, and his influence on myself and lots of my fellow cartoonist/ artist friends cannot be overestimated." -S. Clay Wilson.
"I know this will upset you, but I have never been a fan! I find his work disagreeable. Sorry! It's also ugly. Wolverton drew ugly." -William Gaines.
Basil Wolverton, a unique cartoonist in the decades from the 1940s to the 1960s, was best known for his depiction of human and otherworldly creatures rendered with smoothly sculpted features, spaghetti-like hair, and extremely detailed crosshatching.
Born in Oregon in 1909, Wolverton pitched his first comic strip to a syndicate at the age of 16, but it wasn't until 13 years later that he would sell his first comic features to the new medium of comic books. "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. The series ran for 30 episodes (262 pages), until 1942. "Powerhouse Pepper," Wolverton's most successful humor comic book feature was published in Timely, Marvel and Humorama comics from 1942 through 1952.Wolverton penned many other features, producing a total of some 1,300 comic book pages.
In 1946 he earned first prize for his rendition of Lower Slobbovia's ugliest woman, Lena the Hyena. The contest, part of Al Capp's "Li'l Abner" newspaper strip, was judged by no less than Boris Karloff, Frank Sinatra, and Salvador Dali. It won Wolverton fame and notoriety, and moved his career into the mainstream spotlight for a few years, with features and caricatures appearing in Life and Pageant magazines. At the peak of his style, in the early 1950s, he produced what many regard as his best work, 17 episodes of comic book horror and science fiction. During the '50s, his work was prominently featured several times in the early MAD magazine, as well as Life and Pageant.
In his later years Wolverton produced a story of the Old Testament, which included more than 500 illustrations, and created a series of apocalyptic illustrations based on the New Testament's "Book of Revelation." During this time he continued to create outrageous cartoons for clients as diverse as Plop, Playboy and the Topps Company. Wolverton died in 1978.