Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plop Art Pop Art: The Beauty of Ugly

PLOP! "The New Magazine of Weird Humor!" was a 24 issue "anthology comic" magazine, published bi-monthly from Sept./Oct. 1973 to Nov./Dec.1976. Boasting many of the talented artists from the early years of the satirical counter-culture rag MAD Magazine, PLOP! delivered gruesome yet comic morality tales (usually "hosted" by a cast of three reoccurring characters, Cain, Abel and Eve) illustrated in typical offbeat fashion (from the pen of master cartoonist Sergio Aragonés). 

A Wolverton classic based upon his even uglier Lena the Hyena
As a juvenile at the time, I was attracted to it's grotesquely zany cover art of exaggerated anatomy by the uniquely inventive and free-flowing artist Basil Wolverton and the brilliantly versatile but deeply troubled Wallace Wood. This work represents both veteran artists near the end of their lives. Looking back I can see how these outlandish characters influenced my early free-form doodles and "just for fun" illustrations. In fact my school notebooks looked like leftover PLOP! cover concept galleries.  

Wolverton, referred to as the 'Michelangelo of MAD' by The New York Times, had a trademark "crossed-hatched rubber-hosed bug-eyed" style and was very fond of grotesque portraiture. You may have seen his famous cover for the May 1954 issue of MAD Magazine, parodying Life Magazine's "Beautiful Girl of the Month" issues. (Image at right) Yep, she sure is sumfin.

Wood had a more refined and varied style, illustrating everything from Atlas and Marvel comics (Daredevil, Dr. Doom), children's picture books, record album covers, Mars Attacks trading cards, product packaging, as well as writing and drawing syndicated comic strips. 

He's also well known for his edgy satirical work. He illustrated a few risqué titles which featured parodies of Disney characters shown engaging in "unexpected situations". Sadly, Wallace later took his own life. 

So welcome to this long overdue "virtual retrospective" of the PLOP! ART of Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood. You are more likely to find their work hanging on some college dorm room wall, than in the Louvre or the Smithsonian. And something tells me that's just how these guys would've prefered it. Admission here is always free, but if you should feel like offering a contribution... we only accept your comments. Your money is no good here. Enjoy!  

Art Arteries by Basil Wolverton

Roarin' Rodney Roadrunner by Wally Wood

Messy Tessie and Darlin' Daisy Dallyrimple by Basil Wolverton

Untitled by Basil Wolverton

Famous Four Eyes "Bo" Garth by Wally Wood
Josephine by Basil Wolverton (an obvious satire of those controversial 1971 ads for National Airlines)

Feets Fleagle by Basil Wolverton

Untitled  by Wally Wood

Nooly Nostrildamus by Basil Wolverton
"Arms" Armstrong by Basil Wolverton

"Smokin' Sanford" by Wally Wood
Billy Button by Basil Wolverton
Ashur, Crasher and Basher by Basil Wolverton

"Multiple Mouth McCardy" by Wally Wood

Alfred Adamsapple and Snapper Snodgrass by Basil Wolverton
As far as I know this one is untitled, but I like to call it Blobby McGee

Byron Bigbrain III by Basil Wolverton

Basil Wolverton has such an interesting catalog of work... I'll highlight more of his fun stuff in a future post.

1 comment:

  1. You don't see stuff like this I miss the 70's.