Wolverton Bible

Overview

Compiled for the first time, in a beautiful hardcover, the legendary MAD and EC artist's lesser-known, later Biblical illustrations for the Worldwide Church of God covering the Old Testament and Book of Revelations.
Cartoonist Basil Wolverton was known for his grotesque drawings, fantastically odd creatures, spaghetti-like hair, smoothly sculpted caricatures and insanely detailed crosshatching. His career in the golden age of comic books lasted from 1938 until 1952, after which ...

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Overview

Compiled for the first time, in a beautiful hardcover, the legendary MAD and EC artist's lesser-known, later Biblical illustrations for the Worldwide Church of God covering the Old Testament and Book of Revelations.
Cartoonist Basil Wolverton was known for his grotesque drawings, fantastically odd creatures, spaghetti-like hair, smoothly sculpted caricatures and insanely detailed crosshatching. His career in the golden age of comic books lasted from 1938 until 1952, after which his illustrations and caricatures extended into such publications as Life, Pageant and MAD magazines. Stylistically, he has been regarded as one of the spiritual grandfathers of underground and alternative comix.
Less well known and understood is his work for the Worldwide Church of God, headed until 1986 by radio evangelist Herbert Armstrong. From 1953 through 1974, Wolverton, a deeply religious man, was commissioned and later employed by the church to write and illustrate a narrative of the Old Testament (including over 550 illustrations), some 20 apocalyptic illustrations inspired by the Book of Revelations, and dozens of cartoons and humorous illustrations for various Worldwide Church publications.Compiled and edited by Wolverton’s son, Monte, the 304-page Wolverton Bible includes all of Wolverton’s artwork for the Worldwide Church of God corporation. Recording artist and noted EC authority Grant Geissman (Tales of Terror: The E.C. Companion and Foul Play!: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics!) provides an insightful foreword, while Monte Wolverton delivers commentary and background in the introduction and in each section. This volume is authorized and commissioned by the Worldwide Church of God and endorsed by the Wolverton family.Many of the illustrations in this book are regarded as Basil Wolverton’s finest work. Still others have never been published, and some of the humorous drawings printed here rival Wolverton’s work in MAD magazine.

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Editorial Reviews

Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader?
“By the end of the book, pages after pages of doom and destruction, you realize that Wolverton is maybe the only person to illustrate the The Old Testament and the Book of Revelation—the most 'savage' books of the bible.”
Iconoctlan
“A fascinating testimony to the peculiar vision of the life of an original artist and a somewhat unorthodox view of the 'holy book' by a faithful believer.”
Tim Jamson - Mania
“This book is a tremendous boon as it shows a genius illustrator at the pinnacle of his ability...Basil Wolverton is one of the legends of comic art.”
Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing
“I just discovered that underground grotesque comics virtuoso Basil Wolverton had produced a series of biblical illustrations… stories that went beyond the whitewashed, cheerful kids’ books of the day, to show the Old Testament for what it is: a book full of blood, thunder and revenge. Accordingly, Wolverton’s illustrations, done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight…it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful.”
Leigh Stein - The New Yorker
“I love that Wolverton’s Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling.”
Spencer Drew - Rain Taxi
“Wolverton’s pen presents disaster rather than combat; ruin is highlighted, not heroism…Wolverton illustrated a blind man given sight, a child playing near a viper’s nest, a young boy petting a lion and a wolf. These are images of the heavenly promise, or paradise, but from a pen so tilted toward threat and terror they, too, are frightening to behold…Whether believers or potential converts found themselves plagued by nightmares of the child and viper we may never know, but certainly this volume, assembling as it does a visual representation of a disturbing religious dream, will help readers better understand the fearful allure of end-time theology.”
Nicole Rudick - Artforum
“Wolverton’s unsparing depiction of nightmarish prophecies are relentlessly grim but absorbingly so. There are hints of Goya’s crazed, melancholic Saturn and prediction of Charles Burns’s brooding mutant teens…Such humanity is everywhere is Wolverton’s art—as much in the laughably goony portraits as in fire-and-brimstone ferocity.”
Martyn Pedler - Bookslut
“Underneath the screaming and plagues, the giddy joy that [Wolverton] seems to take in his art radiates off the page, just like it does in his secular work.... His creatures from sci-fi and horror, his fascination with grotesque bodily exaggeration, his devout Christian faith—here it all comes together into an operatic and apocalyptic peak.... The Wolverton Bible might seem like a paradox to its religious audience and its alt-comics fans—even if Wolverton himself never saw the contradiction.”
Garth Danielson - Primitive Screwheads
“The Wolverton Bible is a collection of drawings that Basil Wolverton did for Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. I've been hoping for a collection of these drawings for ages... What a great collection. The drawings are nicely printed, very black, on nice white paper... The book is sturdy and feels good... This is a windfall. It's a wonderful addition to any art collection.”
Gabriel Mckee - Religion Dispatches
“[W]ith their crashing planes, erupting volcanoes, boil-stricken sufferers, and monstrous whirlwinds[,] Wolverton’s literalist depictions of Revelation are powerful, shocking, and above all grotesquely beautiful. ... Though Wolverton’s approach to [the Old Testament] stories was somewhat more matter-of-fact than his apocalyptic panoramas, there is still a passion for the bizarre evident in the Bible Story illustrations. ... Wolverton’s Bible illustrations sit on the border between sacred and profane, and that unique placement is what gives them such power.”
Mania - Tim Jamson
“This book is a tremendous boon as it shows a genius illustrator at the pinnacle of his ability... Basil Wolverton is one of the legends of comic art.”
BoingBoing - Cory Doctorow
“I just discovered that underground grotesque comics virtuoso Basil Wolverton had produced a series of biblical illustrations… stories that went beyond the whitewashed, cheerful kids’ books of the day, to show the Old Testament for what it is: a book full of blood, thunder and revenge. Accordingly, Wolverton’s illustrations, done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight…it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful.”
The New Yorker - Leigh Stein
“I love that Wolverton’s Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling.”
Rain Taxi - Spencer Drew
“Wolverton’s pen presents disaster rather than combat; ruin is highlighted, not heroism…Wolverton illustrated a blind man given sight, a child playing near a viper’s nest, a young boy petting a lion and a wolf. These are images of the heavenly promise, or paradise, but from a pen so tilted toward threat and terror they, too, are frightening to behold…Whether believers or potential converts found themselves plagued by nightmares of the child and viper we may never know, but certainly this volume, assembling as it does a visual representation of a disturbing religious dream, will help readers better understand the fearful allure of end-time theology.”
Artforum - Nicole Rudick
“Wolverton’s unsparing depiction of nightmarish prophecies are relentlessly grim but absorbingly so. There are hints of Goya’s crazed, melancholic Saturn and prediction of Charles Burns’s brooding mutant teens…Such humanity is everywhere is Wolverton’s art—as much in the laughably goony portraits as in fire-and-brimstone ferocity.”
Bookslut - Martyn Pedler
“Underneath the screaming and plagues, the giddy joy that [Wolverton] seems to take in his art radiates off the page, just like it does in his secular work.... His creatures from sci-fi and horror, his fascination with grotesque bodily exaggeration, his devout Christian faith—here it all comes together into an operatic and apocalyptic peak.... The Wolverton Bible might seem like a paradox to its religious audience and its alt-comics fans—even if Wolverton himself never saw the contradiction.”
Primitive Screwheads - Garth Danielson
“The Wolverton Bible is a collection of drawings that Basil Wolverton did for Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. I've been hoping for a collection of these drawings for ages... What a great collection. The drawings are nicely printed, very black, on nice white paper... The book is sturdy and feels good... This is a windfall. It's a wonderful addition to any art collection.”
Religion Dispatches - Gabriel Mckee
“[W]ith their crashing planes, erupting volcanoes, boil-stricken sufferers, and monstrous whirlwinds[,] Wolverton’s literalist depictions of Revelation are powerful, shocking, and above all grotesquely beautiful. ... Though Wolverton’s approach to [the Old Testament] stories was somewhat more matter-of-fact than his apocalyptic panoramas, there is still a passion for the bizarre evident in the Bible Story illustrations. ... Wolverton’s Bible illustrations sit on the border between sacred and profane, and that unique placement is what gives them such power.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560979647
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 3/23/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 4.10 (d)

Meet 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.

Monte Wolverton is a syndicated editorial cartoonist (whose style is reminiscent of his father's) and managing editor of Plain Truth magazine—where many of the illustrations in The Wolverton Bible originally appeared.

Grant Geissman,

(b. 1953,
Berkeley, CA), is the author of several Mad magazine retrospectives, some of which have been Eisner-nominated. He's also an accomplished musician and composer, having recorded with artists including Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, and Keiko Matsui. He lives in Los Angeles.

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