Tony Natsoulas About Curating Contact

Producer of Preposterous Pictures of Peculiar People Who Prowl This Perplexing Planet
Ceramic and Wire
68" x 26" x 24"
2015

This is one of the pieces in my Art Hero series. It is a portrait of Basil Wolverton (1909 - 1978). He is best known for his work in both MAD Magazine and for his religious illustrations for the Radio Church of God. In this sculpture I have made him being swallowed by a character named Lena the Hyena. In 1946, Wolverton won a contest to depict "Lena the Hyena", the world's ugliest woman, a running gag in Al Capp's Li'l Abner newspaper strip where Lena remained unseen beneath an editorial note stating her face had been covered to protect readers. He had a contest for artists to submit their interpretations. Among 500,000 entries, Wolverton's was the winner; it appeared in a Li'l Abner daily and Life magazine. A jury of Frank Sinatra, Boris Karloff, and Salvador Dali was formed to judge the submissions of the best (or worst) rendition of Lena the Hyena.

Basil Wolverton was born in 1909, so when comic books began to look for original material in 1936, he was ready and willing. Self-taught, he tried to sell his first newspaper strip at the age of 20. Unfortunately some other strip beat him to the punch. Marco From Mars could have captured the public's fancy the way Buck Rogers did.

Collection of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

Basil Wolverton Wiki

Photo by Izzy Schwartz