[Visions of Horror] Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

frankensteintop

Bloody-Disgusting writers Farah Al-Hakkak (ShadowJayd) and Lonnie Nadler (Lonmonster) are back with more weekly commentary on the best horror artists and artwork that comics industry has to offer. Because there is still a severe lack of appreciation for comic book artists today, we felt that something should be done to remedy that. So, every Friday, there will be a new Visions of Horror art column posted in BD’s comics section, specifically profiling pieces that have made an impact on the industry, in order to show how significant art is in influencing a generation of people.

This week features the award winning artist Bernie Wrightson, and his critically acclaimed edition of Mary Shelley’s 18th century Gothic novel, “Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus”, one of the most influential pieces of horror fiction. “Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein” reprints Shelley’s 1831 edition, featuring seven years’ worth of meticulously rendered pen and ink illustrations to accompany her writing.

Having already established a recognizable name for himself in the comics industry after co-creating DC’s iconic character, “Swamp Thing” in 1971, Wrightson expertly proved his remarkable ability to revolutionize ideas and concepts into a powerfully engaging and extraordinarily detailed visual phenomenon. Possessing a uniquely sophisticated cross-hatching shading technique — which only adds to his dark and foreboding style of art — his illustrations, and the grim tone he produces, are perfectly suited for the horror genre. His insane and daring panel layouts for “Swamp Thing” forever changed the game for horror comics, especially in a post-Comics Code Authority world. Just look at any page in “Swamp Thing” and marvel at his ability to manipulate your eyes into following a specific path.

In 1983, under the Marvel Comics imprint, “Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein” was published to a largely positive reception, and rightly so. With lavish, black and white renderings of Shelley’s classical world, his exquisitely detailed and extravagant vision adapts to the novelized era, and establishes itself with a beautifully distinguished period style of art. Reading Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is an experience in its own right that all horror fans must experience. Wrightson’s beautiful artwork not only does justice to the masterpiece that is the original, but adds layers to it. There are few artists who would consider laying their hands on such a work of literature, let alone have the chops to do it successfully.

There are few comic book artists who earn the wide-spread acclaim to the level of Wrightson. Over the years, “Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein” has been reprinted, most notably by Dark Horse Comics for the 25th anniversary of the first edition in 2008. The demand for Wrightson’s stunning artwork continues to rise, and since then, he began selling limited edition screen prints of his pieces.

While many would be tempted to leave their legend status untouched, Wrightson returned to Shelley’s world nearly 30 years later with “Frankenstein Alive, Alive” from IDW Publishing. The series, written by Steve Niles, follows the exploits of the daemon after the events of the original novel. Wrightson once again returns tho his black and white style to create full issues of detailed brush/nib work. Unfortunately the series has seen delays, but how can you be upset with art this good?

The illustrations below showcases the scope of Wrightson’s artistic talent perfectly. His compositional work is unbelievably monumental. The way he intricately incorporates every possible knickknack and trinket on the page, as described by Shelley’s writing, while still managing to effectively distinguish space and depth, is just mind-blowing. The visually dark tone and classic vibe of his work really adds to the overall theme of, not only the grim world of Frankenstein, but the horror genre as a whole.

From “Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein”:

From “Frankenstein Alive, Alive”:

If you want Bloody Disgusting to cover one of your favourite horror artists, or a fantastic piece of horror-related comic book art, head down to the comment section, or hit up Farah or Lonnie on Twitter.

  • GreenBasterd

    Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein is a mind blowing piece of art.

  • Evan3

    I had never heard of this before, but I can’t deny this beautiful artistry. The top panel especially is exquisite. Thanks guys!