Basil Wolverton

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An artist friend emailed me a recent book review from the New York Times by Steven Heller entitled The Original Art of Basil Wolverton.
From the article:

Any aficionado of early Mad comics published during the first half of the 1950s, when Mad was still a riotous comic book and not yet a formatted magazine, will recognize the brilliantly perverse parody of a Life magazine cover featuring a portrait of a hideous girl next to the headline “Beautiful Girl of the Month Reads Mad.” The artist who concocted this misshapen, bug-eyed, fang-toothed, pimply-faced, spaghetti-haired, pig-nosed monstrosity was Basil Wolverton (1909-78)…

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Heller later says:

Wolverton’s work predates by decades many of the more acerbic comics of the 60s underground commix era, including those of R. Crumb, and is revered by many contemporary comics artists for his graphic lunacy and his matchless facility with pen and ink.

So why am I blogging about a ‘long ago’ comic artist? I knew Basil Wolverton and his family as a young child growing up in Portland Oregon. Our families attended the same small church and of course all the kids looked up to Basil as a famous cartoon artist. As a kid, I and many of my peers tried to copy his hilarious and creative drawings. His drawing style was very unique with crosshatch shading, spaghetti like hair, etc. It probably is what got me interested in drawing in the first place which later led to painting, etc.

Basil’s son Monte carried on the family tradition and makes his living as a cartoonist. Some of his drawings are almost indistinguishable from his father’s.

More information on Monte and Basil can be found here.

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