We’ve been mourning the loss of legendary artist Bernie Wrightson since we learned the sad news of his passing over the weekend, but we’ve been finding a whole lot of comfort in how much Wrightson’s fans have been celebrating his incredible legacy all across social media. Two days later, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are still being flooded with Wrightson’s incredible art, and that’s pretty awesome. So let’s continue that celebration by looking back on a project that many people probably don’t associate Bernie Wrightson with: the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters!
Wrighton worked as a concept artist for several movies throughout his career, including Thirteen Ghosts and The Mist, and he was brought on board Ghostbusters in the early ’80s as a creature consultant. Working from an early draft of the script, Wrightson designed several creatures including the Terror Dogs and the nightmarish Library Ghost. He even whipped up incredible drawings depicting the road to Hell, and the gates of Hell, but those sequences ended up being cut from the film before production began; in fact, most of his work was not actually used.
To my knowledge, Wrightson’s Ghostbusters concept drawings were seldom seen prior to the tail end of last year, when they were shown off in a video that was part of a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a limited edition fine-art portfolio of Wrightson’s illustrations from Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf; the campaign received full funding and the art is being sent out now.
Wrightson described in the video:
I did the library ghost and I worked on the terror dogs. That was another deal where, ya know, the director would look at somebody’s drawings and say ‘oh ya know I like this part, but not that part.’ And they’d pass it off to me and say, ‘can you redo this bottom part?’ or whatever. ‘But tell me what you like, tell me what to retain.’ It went like that. It was very mix and match. Also, I was working from an early draft of the script, which showed the gates to Hell and the road to Hell and all this stuff. So I did a lot of drawings of those, which never made it to the final movie.
He also explained that he lost much of the art:
They kept all the art from Ghostbusters. I don’t know how much [they] sold, or what. There was no record of it. Once you parted with an original, that was it. Unless you had some film or a copy. That was my first lesson in movie work. After that, I made it part of the deal before I started, that you don’t get to keep the originals.
Check out some of Wrightson’s Ghostbusters art below, along with the aforementioned video.