August 29, 2007  |  Uncategorized


One of LA’s finest art exhibits of the season opens this Saturday at the GRAND CENTRAL ART CENTER in Santa Ana, when “The Original Art of Basil Wolverton” is to be unveiled. Taken from the extensive collection of LA-based aficionado and Wolverton expert GLENN BRAY, the show brings together an assortment of rarely-seen vintage Wolverton originals for the first time ever. A greatly overlooked figure in the world of underground cartooning, Wolverton’s style which reached its peak in the early ’50s, was stunningly original, pushing the genre to the limits of weirdness, influencing a generation of artists to follow, most notably the psychedelic artists of the 1960s including R Crumb, Rick Griffin, and Robert Williams…

The must-have book  by Last Gasp

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 ulgliest 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.






An early autobiography…

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