The Original Art of Basil Wolverton at Grand Central Art Gallery
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The Original Art of Basil Wolverton at Grand Central Art Gallery
Basil Wolverton.

SANTA ANA, CA.-Grand Central Art Gallery presents The Original Art of Basil Wolverton from the Collection of Glenn Bray, on view September 1 - November 11, 2007. Original drawings, cartoons, magazine illustrations and more by Basil Wolverton will be featured in the GCAC Main Gallery. A 272-page hardcover book titled The Original Art of Basil Wolverton published by Grand Central Press and Last Gasp Publishing and designed by Brigitte Macdonald, will be released at the opening.

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.

Special thanks to Glenn Bray and Lena Zwalve, Colin Turner, Doug Harvey, Monte Wolverton, Brigitte Macdonald, ProPhoto Connection and all the people who help make this exhibition and book possible.

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