Saturday, June 18, 2011

Forgotten Master Sunday - The Brain Bats Of Venus

Mention comic book masters in a comic shop & the usual suspects will come up Lee,Kirby, perhaps a
Steranko, Millar, etc.
 Your not likely to have heard of  the
cartoonist, illustrator, comic book writer-artist and professed "Producer of Preposterous Pictures of Peculiar People who Prowl this Perplexing Planet" 

Basil Wolverton

Starting at age 15 Wolverton he did Mako of Mars. His work is unique & strange in the world of comics where unique & strange are common place.
Basil Wolverton's comic magazine features appeared in regular format comic books between 1938 and 1954. Space Hawk remains one of my favorites of his & the man knew how to draw some really strange aliens, monsters, & creatures! My favorite story of his remains -The Brain Bats Of Venus, 

Do yourself a favor & go read the whole story over at the Gold Age Comic Book Stories Here
Everything about these things makes the Mind Flayers from D&D look like marry sunshine. 

Wolverton's other creation that I love is Star Hawk.

The man was self-taught, he tried to sell his first newspaper strip at the age of 20.
The art was both controlled and organic at the same time. Aliens lived on strange worlds in dwellings that resembled nothing as much as a cross between medieval castles and Earthly observatories. The landscapes were dotted with flora that often resembled earthworms in muffs, yet the basic building blocks of alien technology were the rivet and the steel panel. What Wolverton lacked in imagination he more than made up for with enthusiasm and drawing skills.

When I first started to read the Planet Algol stuff it was Wolverton that came to my mind first! His really strange aliens, worlds, & entities are etched in my mind with 60s underground mags, & D&D!

Recently Dark Horse Comics has reprinted most of Wolverton's comics as graphic novels. These appear to be quite affordable. Wolverton Comics From Dark Horse

Wolverton & The OSR 

There is a great deal that the
Producer of Preposterous Pictures of Peculiar People who Prowl this Perplexing Planet"  Has to offer the enterprising DM. Star Hawk's adventures can easily adapted to serve as a jump off point for an entire campaign. The artist's take on undead can offer some surprises  for even the most jaded players.

The Brain Bats Of Venus

No. Enc.: 1d3
Alignment: Inimical
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d8( Special See Below)
The Brain Bats of  Venus are named for the terraformed world of Venus Prime. This colony world fell into disuse after the Atomic Wars of long ago. The terraforming instruments continued to run. One of the horrors that was discovered years later were these interplanar horrors from the deepest depths of the inter planar Outer Darkness.
They are powerful psionics and are capable of controlling the minds of 1d6 victims per round. Their hypnotic power has a range of 30’ and the victim is permitted a save vs. psionics. Anyone failing to resist is overcome and is typically commanded to fight against his or her allies. They are even able to bring back the dead by psionically repairing the bodies of their victims. Their mind becomes a sort of  hybrid in which the Brain bat has complete access to any skills or memories the host mind had in life.
They have the following psionic abilities:
Third Eye 


The following powers may be used only when a host entity's mind is being used. 
Bio PK II -used for healing the dead host
Control Machine 

Mind flux at twice per day

 These are only a small sample of some of the powers that these inter planar monsters have manifest in the past & some individuals may manifest their own set.
These are just a few of the fan sites out there. 


  1. Basil Wolverton is awesome! I can remember reading a Wolverton reprint book in my comic collecting days. It had the Brain Bats of Venus in it, and that image stuck with me for a long time. They are a very Clark Ashton Smith type of monster.

  2. You know I hadn't really made the connection to CAS stuff but yeah they do really fit into his type of MO! Excellent man! Thanks!

  3. I love Basil Wolverton and have wanted to see the brain bats statted up for a long time.

    How about the later Spacehawks when he fights fascists with his henchman Dork?

  4. Awesome! Stat'ing them up is an extra added bonus!!

  5. Great now your making me grab my SpaceHawk reprints & yeah that will be up very soon at Drune's request!

  6. Cool. believe Matt over at The Land of Nod statted these guys up about a year ago, too.


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