Rude Awakening

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The 13 Days Of Halloween conclude with a classic written and drawn by the one and only Basil Wolverton! From Weird Tales Of The Future #3 (SPM Publications, September 1952), here’s “Nightmare World.”

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Yikes!

That’s it for this year’s fright fest, but there’s still one more piece of business to conclude Time Bulleteers. Come back Nov. 2 for an All Souls’ Day special starring The Wraith!

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Exit, Bat-Girl

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As comic-book tropes go, you could do worse than falling back on the old “girlfriend corrupted by a vampire” bit.

Fortunately for the intended victim of this particular story, the boyfriend attempting to avert the evil deed is none other than the resurrected Egyptian prince known as Ibis the Invincible!

This adventure varies from run-of-the-mill super-hero horror mash-ups by starting with a situation that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in an episode of I Love Lucy (ditzy heroine goes to extraordinary lengths to shop for clothes) before slowly ratcheting up the danger to the point where the situation is resolved in a shockingly violent manner.

(Shocking, at least, for Whiz Comics … home to the all-ages adventures of Captain Marvel.)

“The Vampire Cloak” originally appeared in Whiz Comics #114 (Fawcett, October 1949). The story and art are not credited.

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As a Time Bullet bonus, here’s an installment of Basil Wolverton’s “Culture Corner” that ran in the very same issue of Whiz Comics. Enjoy!

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Wolverton In Space

It’s safe to say that few approached Golden Age Sci-Fi comics – or any genre for that matter – in the same manner as Basil Wolverton. His bizarre creatures and exotic tableau ensured the creator’s stories would always stand apart from the pack.

Here’s one of his earlier efforts for Centaur Publications that starred the generically titled “Space Patrol.” Wolverton’s “sand rats” and refrigerator-esque space-suit designs, however, are anything but generic.

The story – written and drawn by Wolverton – originally appeared in Amazing Mystery Funnies #23 (Centaur Publications, August 1940).

Flying Fool

Throughout his career in comics, Basil Wolverton created countless humor strips for countless publishers.

Whether it appeared in books produced by Fawcett (Culture Corner), Lev Gleason (Big Bang Buster and His Horse Hedy) Key Publications (Jumpin’ Jupiter), Timely (the great Powerhouse Pepper, natch) or numerous other publishers beyond my ability to research,  Wolverton’s work reliably provided young readers their needed doses of warped humor, delightfully ugly caricatures and indefatigable underdog heroes who delivered distinctive dialogue with the artist’s patented “zip.”

The following story originally appeared in Gay Comics #23 (Timely, 1946) and features an aviator who only could have been conceived by Basil Wolverton: “Flap Flipflop The Flying Flash.”

Spacehawk Goes To War

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Basil Wolverton’s Spacehawk was one of the artist’s earliest, and most popular, strips. The “Powerful, Mysterious Man From Outer Space”  debuted in the fifth issue of Novelty Press’  Target Comics (June, 1940) and proceeded to warp readers’ minds with some of the most unusual-looking alien beings in the nascent medium’s history.

( A good example of  the bizarre villains Wolverton created for Spacehawk can be found in Fantagraphics’ excellent 2009 compilation, Supermen! The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941)

Sadly, by the 13th issue Target’s publisher decreed that the publication’s characters concentrate their efforts on aiding America’s WWII efforts. This shift in direction was accompanied by a less than subtle spread detailing Uncle Sam’s new assignments for each of Novelty’s adventurers.

Art by Ben Thompson

Suddenly the futuristic Spacehawk found himself stuck in the 20th century battling Axis spies and saboteurs, a situation Wolverton greatly disliked. Although the feature continued in Target until 1942, the writer-artist correctly pointed out in later years that the “zip had been taken out of the strip.”

Although the following untitled tale appeared in the selfsame issue (Target Comics, Vol. 2 #1, 1941) that featured Uncle Sam’s marching orders to Spacehawk, Wolverton still managed to sneak in a few trademark sci-fi grotesqueries to more than offset some rather wooden attempts to pacify Novelty Press’ Powers That Be.

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Smiling Faces

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I cannot imagine how Golden Age comic-book readers reacted to Basil Wolverton’s work.

He routinely worked in such disparate genres as humor, super-heroics, science-fiction and horror, yet his style never bended to the conventions of the assigned story. Rather, Wolverton’s vision bent genre conventions to fit his unique style.

Nothing in the comics field before, during or since Wolverton’s career is quite the same as a story by the artist himself.

The following three-page story originally appeared in Weird Chillers #1 (Key, 1954). “The Man Who Never Smiled” is a short and simple tale that nonetheless achieves a level of freakiness that transcends the years due to Wolverton’s inimitable art.

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Robot Woman

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Boy, the world just seems nuts these days.

Between labyrinthian debates on health care, rampant unemployment, crippling disasters in the Philippines and Indonesia and the continuing spectacle of public figures self-destructing on national television, it appears that life as we know it is spiraling down the drain.

Thank goodness for comic books!

When the nightly news becomes too much to bear, I like nothing better than reaching back into the old Fortress Of Fortitude archives for a classic chiller to take the edge off my evening. And what can be more classic than a demented tale of true love from one of the most distinctive artists of any era, Basil Wolverton?

From Key Publications, one of the most gloriously gory horror publishers of the pre-Code era (check out David Hajdu’s The Ten Cent Plague for the juicy details), here’s Wolverton’s “Robot Woman.”

The story originally appeared in Weird Mysteries #2.

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There now, don’t we all feel better … albeit a bit grossed out?