The Basil Wolverton Reader

 BAWR   (Pure Imagination)

™ and ©

If any of his creations sum up the signature surrealistic style of Golden Age artist Basil Wolverton, it’s Powerhouse Pepper, his endearingly good-natured strongman in a striped sweatshirt, who happily is well represented in this outstanding collection. However, calling him a “character” is stretching things a bit since, regardless of genre in his stories, characterization comes in last, if at all. First and foremost, there are exercises on the themes of silly word play, impossible occurrences, and truly repellent grotesques, the goal always to top the previous strip. That’s true, whether his lead is Disc-Eyes the Detective, Splash Morgan, Mystic Moot and his Magic Snoot, Bingbang Buster and his Horse Hedy, or even his marginally straight space super-hero Spacehawk. Thanks to frequent reprints and Wolverton’s literally unbelievable alien flora and fauna, Spacehawk is probably his best-known creation, but he’s not at his best here. Editorial fiat sent him to Earth to help the war effort, where he’s saddled with a sidekick named (I’m not kidding) Dork and is reduced to dealing with a black-market tire ring.

— S.A. Bennett

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