Sunday 19 March 2017

Bernie Wrightson

I was saddened to hear today about the passing of the great comics artist, Bernie Wrightson. He was probably THE greatest post-EC Comics horror artist and his loss at the age of only 68 is a tragic blow to the comics community. His beautifully detailed and eerie artwork was one of the signature styles of the Bronze Age, often imitated, never equalled. I'm sure there are plenty of obituaries rising up from the fetid swamps of the internet today by people far more qualified than me to comment on his life, so I'll just make do with sharing some of my Wrightson collection. I'll start of course with the iconic Swamp Thing...
Swampy was probably one of the most important new DC characters of the Bronze Age. In a time when the dreaded Comics Code Authority was beginning to loosen its vice-like grip and supernatural characters began to flood the market place, the Swamp Thing strip led the way for more intelligent and innovative horror comics to make their mark. With co-creator Len Wein, Wrightson only produced ten issues of the regular comic ( as well as the "pilot" story in House Of Secrets #92 ) but what an amazing run it was! Exploring just about every classic horror theme in those ten issues, Wrightson's moody and intricate brushwork, full of shadows and grotesqueries, at times resembling antique woodcut illustrations, set the bar so high that few could follow.
( The above is one of my all-time favourite comic covers  -  a Universal monster movie reanimated in four colours )
Swampy didn't speak much, but when he did you certainly noticed...
Away from comics Wrightson was also much in demand as a book illustrator, with his beautiful work on an edition of Frankenstein being probably the greatest showcase of his skills. The illustration above and the next one feature in The Studio, the gorgeous art book put together by Wrightson with his contemporaries Barry Windsor-Smith, Mike Kaluta and Jeff Jones. You can see a far more comprehensive run-down of his Studio pieces at Pete Doree's wonderful Bronze Age of Blogs.
And just for a change here's a rare case of the artist tackling some super heroes, specifically the Hulk and the Thing in The Big Change, a collaboration with Jim Starlin...
And back to horror with Stephen King movie adaptation Creepshow:
I'll finish with Wrightson's take on Will Eisner's The Spirit, a lovely tribute from one master to another.
RIP Bernie and thanks for all the nightmares...

Soundtrack: Motorvatin' -  22 Rock And Roll Classics by Chuck Berry
( Another sad loss  -  the great showman and rock 'n' roll innovator the world lost yesterday at the age of 90 )


John Pitt said...
This was an absolutely amazing gig! - Pure ROCK AND ROLL!
I LOVE this performance!
And his Toronto, '69 spot!

John Pitt said...
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