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In this environment, Wolverton was somewhat
of an anomaly. In contrast to the strict church culture,
Wolverton put people at ease with his
self-effacing humor and off-the-wall wit. He was
admired and sought out for his balance and wisdom.
If this was too "liberal" for any of the more
officious ministers, Wolverton was generally
immune from their criticism because of his friendship
with Armstrong. In the early ‘60s, for
example, when Wolverton was editor of the local
WCG congregational newspaper in Portland, he
ran caricatures of leading ministers, including
Herbert Armstrong, complete with mildly satirical
text. Only indirectly did he hear of any of his
targets being upset.
in the early ‘50s, Armstrong and his son
Garner Ted invited Wolverton to contribute his
outrageous cartooning style to the college publications.
Part 8 of this volume includes these and
all of Wolverton’s cartoons for various church and
college publications. These are nearly as delightful
as his best humorous work for any secular
It is worthy to note that in spite of all the
WCG rules, regulations and discipline of the ‘50s
and ‘60s, there were good times to be had.
Armstrong’s teachings did not ban the use of alcohol
(in moderation), dancing, card playing and
other recreational activities forbidden by many
fundamentalist groups. Both Wolverton and his
wife, Honor, loved to entertain, enjoyed good
food and good friends (in and out of the church)
and led a very active social life.
Wolverton circa 1969.
By the time Wolverton had finished the Old
Testament, the plan was to condense the story
and republish it in six new volumes. In 1972,
having finished the writing of The Bible Story,
Wolverton set about revising and condensing the
story toward that end, but a stroke ended his work
in 1974, and it was not until 1982 that the revised
blue-covered six volumes of The Bible Story were
published (some art was not included for space
reasons — and some because it was deemed too
grotesque or violent). This version included all
the material up to the fall of Babylon. For reasons
unknown, the final chapters Wolverton had written —
through the book of Nehemiah — were not
included. The art for these chapters is published
in this volume for the first time.
Why didn't Wolverton continue the story
through the New Testament? He could have —
and was probably up for the task, but Armstrong
felt it was a violation of the second Commandment
to picture Jesus in any form. A New Testament
story would have comprised a narrative of the
Gospels and the book of Acts, incorporating some
historical inferences from the Epistles. Of course
Wolverton had already done some of his best
illustrations based on the book of Revelation. But
there were no plans for the rest of the New
Testament and a stroke in 1974 ended Wolverton’s
ability to work.
The ‘70s were tumultuous times for the WCG,
with various scandals and defections of ministers.
Because of this (and ‘70s culture in general) there
was a certain slackening from the harsh days of
the ‘50s and ‘60s — a change which Wolverton
welcomed. Wolverton died in 1978, and did not
live to see the profound doctrinal and cutural
reforms of the church which eventually followed
Armstrong’s death in 1986. While Wolverton
would have been saddened by the loss of his friend
and benefactor Herbert Armstrong, he would
likely have embraced the reforms in his church — as
his wife and family did.
As art historians will attest, many of the
world’s outstanding creative endeavors have been
driven by unorthodox worldviews, whether one
agrees with the worldviews or not. The collaboration
of Wolverton and Armstrong is an example of
this. Had Armstrong not developed his peculiar
theology, and had Wolverton not accepted it, we
would not have the incredible body of work contained
in this volume.
Featured books by (or featuring) Basil Wolverton (click covers for complete product details)
The Wolverton Bible [Sold Out]
Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941
All books by or featuring Basil Wolverton
All books by or featuring Monte Wolverton