What Might Have Been: Mickey by Wolverton

Basil Wolverton gained fame through his strange and humorous comic book art from Spacehawk to Powerhouse Pepper to Biblical Armegeddon and a lot more. But like most comic artists of his time he tried to break into the syndicated newspaper comic strip market. Also like most comic artists of his time he failed. But he never failed to try again and again.


There was one time he did draw a newspaper comic strip syndicated around the nation if only for one panel.

Thanks to Al Capp Basil got world-wide attention, but he didn’t get offers from syndicates.

Ten years before that 1946 Lena the Hyena appearance Basil had sent samples to the Walt Disney Studio.

Walt Disney, beginning work on Snow White, was looking to expand his workforce and Wolverton applied with four strips featuring Mickey Mouse. By 1936 Floyd Gottfredson had proven himself as plotter and penciller on the Mickey Mouse comic strip and was not to be replaced by anyone, Wolverton was rejected for the comic strip department and any other place at Disney Studios.

The above strips ran in Graphic Story Magazine #12 (1970). In 2015, as part of his two volume biography of Basil Wolverton’s early life and career (1909-1952; Wolverton would die in 1978), Greg Sadowski would clean up and reformat those four Mickey Mouse samples.

Greg Sadowski’s Basil biographies from Fantagraphics, Creeping Death From Neptune and Brain Bats of Venus are both recommended being filled with Wolverton comic book and pulp magazine art and samples of his many Never Was comic strip attempts along side the story of his struggles and triumphs as a graphic artist and writer.

Of course if you ever come onto a copy of Bill Spicer’s Graphic Story Magazine, not just the two Wolverton issues but any issue, don’t even think about passing up the opportunity to get it.

a hat tip to Antonio Marques at the Cartoon Research Facebook page for bringing back to mind.