Berni Wrightson passed away last month. It was not a shock since he had been very ill for a very long time. But it was nonetheless a loss which left a real mark on comic book fans of my generation, since Wrightson was one of those key artists who helped define the Bronze Age of comics and beyond. I first encountered Wrightson's work in a 100-Page Spectacular issue of his mystery stories produced for various of DC's magazines over the years. The cover image above, a grim image of a plan gone wrong is my favorite Wrightson image of all time. But it's far from the the only one.
Berni Wrightson produced a lot of covers in his career, all of them oozing the gothic atmosphere which he was famous for. A fanboy of the great Graham Ingels, an artist who made his mark on the legendary EC Comics, Wrightson took that influence and bonded it with a more rugged influence from Frank Frazetta, the seminal artist of the late 60's.
Wrightson had a real gift for portraits and constructed many of them for the ghost hosts who populated the comics of the era. He did images of DC's Caine and Abel along with Cousin Eerie, Uncle Creepy and Vampirella for Warren Magazines.
But there's little doubt that his career was elevated by his work on Swamp Thing. Alongside Len Wein he created truly memorable and important issues of a comic which has been in print pretty much constantly since it first appeared. While Swamp Thing went on to become a plaything for talents like Alan Moore and others, it will always be those early Wein-Wrightson issues which defined the character for me once and for all.
But arguably the most important work Wrightson was able to do was his illustrated version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Wrightson apparently worked on this labor of love for years while he continued to produce paying work for companies like Marvel and DC. It was Marvel which first published his opus and currently Dark Horse has offered up a handsome version for the modern fan.
|(The Studio - Wrightson, Jones, Kaluta and Windsor-Smith)|
Berni Wrightson left his mark on comics and like any comic book artist of such consumate skill and talent and special vision, left his mark on comic book fans. Rest in peace Mr. Wrightson.