The Wolverton Bible

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NUMBER OF PAGES

320

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED

March 2009

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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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REVIEWS

Boing Boing

•Culture and entertainment blog

“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.” – Cory Doctorow

Bookslut

•Book review website

“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.” – Martyn Pedler

The New Yorker

•News and reviews magazine

“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.” – Leigh Stein