Synopses & Reviews
Basil Wolverton's work refuses to die. Following a well-received exhibit of original art in New York City's Gladstone Gallery (which The New York Times
called "exuberantly grotesque") came 2009's publication of The Wolverton Bible
(Fantagraphics Books). Though his comic book work has been reprinted endlessly, it has either been "modernized" with digital colors or presented in austere
black and white. The time has come for a robust volume of Wolverton's comics taken from their original printed source -- the comic books themselves.
A pioneer from the first generation of comic book artists, Wolverton arrived just as publishers began embracing original material, turning away from the newspaper-strip reprints that had been sustaining the industry since its inception our years earlier. One of the first to realize the value of "in-house" features was Centaur Publications, whose art director Lloyd Jacquet gave Wolverton his big break in comics in 1938, accepting "Meteor Martin" for Amazing Man Comics and "Space Patrol" for Amazing Mystery Funnies. Jacquet soon established an independent comics packager, Funnies, Inc., for which he asked Wolverton to invent a new science-fiction character. The artist came up with the iconic "Spacehawk," who made thirty appearances in Target Comics. Prime examples of Wolverton's iconic space hero will be featured in Creeping Death from Neptune.
Fed up with the publisher's constant meddling with "Spacehawk," Wolverton dropped his creation in 1942 and concentrated on humorous features for the rest of the decade. His short-lived return to serious subjects in 1951 resulted in some of the most intense horror and science-fiction stories of the pre-code era, including the classics "Brain Bats of Venus," "Escape to Death," and "Robot Woman," all of which appear in this volume.
Created with the full cooperation of the Wolverton estate, Creeping Death from Neptune will also examine, for the first time, the artist's personal ledgers and diaries, shedding new light on his working methods and his day-to-day life as a freelance comic book artist. The digital restoration of the printed art will be performed with subtlety and restraint, mainly to correct registration and printing errors, with every effort made to retain the flavor of the original comic books.
"Most comic-book artists are associated with a particular genre, but Wolverton was a genre unto himself... This biography-cum-compilation traces the first phase of Wolverton's career... This volume collects all of Wolverton's non-humor stories from the period, mostly space operas with titles like and , along with a sampling of his uniquely wacky comedic work, rejected syndication attempts, a Mickey Mouse tryout, and celebrity caricatures." Gordon Flagg
"... provides an invaluable biography of the first half of Basil Wolverton's life. It's a must-read for any lover of classic comic art." Paul C. Tumey The Comics Journal
An in-depth look at a unique comic book master.
Basil Wolverton, best known for his goofy grotesqueries in the pages of MAD and other humor comics, was also responsible for some of the wildest and most eye-popping science fiction and horror comics of the Golden Age, but his non-humorous comics work has never had the comprehensive archival collection it deserves — until now.
Creeping Death From Neptune is a comprehensive edition of Basil Wolverton’s non-humorous comics work. While it presents an overview of Wolverton’s entire career, it focuses primarily on his 1938-1952 science fiction and horror comics. Apart from Spacehawk, which has recently been catalogued in a separate Fantagraphics volume, every known story from this period, both published and unpublished, will be shown in its entirety. The narrative begins at Wolverton’s childhood and traces the events leading up to his first serious comics work, the rejected 1929 syndicated strip, Marco of Mars, then proceeds through Steve Grover of the Stratosphere Patrol, Vultures of the Void, Meteor Murphy, Space Patrol and Rockman, his final intense group of 1950-1952 stories for Marvel and publisher Stanley Morse.The book ends with a summation of Wolverton’s career after leaving — and occasionally returning to — comics, though never again as a non-humorous artist. Existing correspondence, pay ledgers, and personal diaries shedding intimate insight into the artist’s career will be examined in depth. The author has gone to great lengths to uncover as much unpublished art as possible, including preliminary drawings, syndicated strips, comic book work, and rejected covers for Amazing Mystery Funnies and Amazing Man Comics.
This is the first in a two-volume retrospective--collecting full comics stories, unpublished art, ads, etc.--and biography of the famous cartoonist.
This is the first of two volumes reprinting copious amounts of comics stories and recounting the career of cartoonist Basil Wolverton. Based on his correspondence and journals, the biographical portion of the books follow Wolverton from childhood to adult day-to-day life as freelance cartoonist, itinerant handyman, persistent contest enterer, and local pastor of the Radio Church of God. Wolverton lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest, unique among the first generation of comic book pioneers. In the precious period before the industry calcified into a commercial institution, Wolverton was free to work under the radar to explore in detail his weird tales of the future. The book collects all of Wolverton's non-humorous comic stories and a substantial selection of his humorous comics, alongside dozens of pages of unpublished artwork, unsold features, and never-before-seen correspondence, including rejection letters!
About the Author
Basil Wolverton was born near Medford, Oregon in 1909 and died in 1978. His Fantagraphics-published books include Basil Wolverton's Culture Corner and The Wolverton Bible, and his work is featured in Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941.Greg Sadowski is a writer, editor and designer (B. Krigstein, Supermen!, Four Color Fear, Setting the Standard: Alex Toth; Action! Mystery! Thrills!) living in Washington State.