His unique, humorously grotesque drawings have elicited a wide range of reactions. Cartoonist Will Elder said he finds Wolverton's technique "outrageously inventive, defying every conventional standard yet upholding a very unusual sense of humor. He was a refreshing original", while Jules Feiffer has said, "I don't like his work. I think it's ugly".
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 (Novelty Press), running for 30 episodes (262 pages) until 1942.
In 1946 Wolverton won a contest to depict "Lena 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 to be judged by Boris Karloff, Frank Sinatra and Salvador Dalí. Out of 500,000 entries, Wolverton's was the winner; it appeared in a Li'l Abner daily and Life magazine. Wolverton's fame briefly lead 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. Wolverton also contributed to Mad from the 1950s through the 1970s.
In 1956 Wolverton illustrated Herbert Armstrong's apocalyptic booklet 1975 in Prophecy, and later, The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last, offered free on Armstrong's radio show The World Tomorrow. In 1958, Wolverton began writing and illustrating The Bible Story, also titled The Story of Man, covering the entire history of the Old Testament, and serialized in The Plain Truth and later published in six volumes.
Wolverton's son, editorial cartoonist Monte Wolverton, can draw in a style almost indistinguishable from his father's, and like his father, he has worked for The Plain Truth and contributed to Mad.
An unlikely virtuoso in gross art ; Basil Wolverton set stage for the off-the-wall comics underground of the '60s
Jul 24, 2009; HOLLAND COTTER International Herald Tribune 07-24-2009 An unlikely virtuoso in gross art ; Basil Wolverton set stage for the...