Basil Wolverton: Producer of Peculiar People who Prowl this Perplexing Planet

Cartoonist Basil Wolverton has a pretty excellent claim to fame; in 1946 he won a competition that challenged children and adults alike, all over the world, to create the image of “Lena the Hyena, the world’s ugliest woman.” The ad for the competition ran in the Li’l Abner newspaper strip, as well as Life magazine, and the challenge was judged by the likes of Boris Karloff, Frank Sinatra and Salvador Dali – and out of 500,000 entries, Basil’s was chosen. Thus, Lena’s apperance began the “spaghetti and meatballs” style Wolverton became so renowned for.

It was considered outrageous for the 1940’s and 50’s, but his ingeniously surreal depictions of grotesque people were just too amazing, and amazingly horrifying to be ignored! He continued to be the “Producer of Peculiar People who Prowl this Perplexing Planet” (as he dubbed it) for several decades, doing a large variety of popular work in humor, horror and science fiction, and worked steadily for publications like Mad, and later Plop!, and his beautifully bizarre creations are still celebrated by galleries, clothing companies, and fans around the world.

 

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