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R.I.P. Legendary Horror Artist Bernie Wrightson Has Died

We woke up this morning to a flood of incredible, immediately recognizable pieces of art on our social media feeds. Drawings of Frankenstein’s monster. Drawings of Swamp Thing. It didn’t take us long to realize why. We are incredibly saddened to report that Bernie Wrightson, hugely influential horror artist and co-creator of Swamp Thing, has died at the age of 68.

Bernie Wrightson, who announced his retirement this past January as a result of the battle with brain cancer that he just lost, was nothing short of a horror legend; some of his most notable work includes the poster for Creepshow and his illustrations for Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf, the novella that became Silver Bullet. Wrightson also illustrated the graphic novel adaptation of Creepshow, and throughout his career he worked with both DC and Marvel, drawing iconic comic book characters such as Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange.

Liz Wrightson posted the following obituary on the artist’s official website:

It is with great sorrow that I must announce the passing of my beloved husband, Bernie. We thank you for all the years of love and support. His obituary is below:

After a long battle with brain cancer, legendary artist Bernie Wrightson has passed away.

Bernie “Berni” Wrightson (born October 27, 1948, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) was an American artist known for his horror illustrations and comic books. He received training in art from reading comics, particularly those of EC, as well as through a correspondence course from the Famous Artists School. In 1966, Wrightson began working for The Baltimore Sun newspaper as an illustrator. The following year, after meeting artist Frank Frazetta at a comic-book convention in New York City, he was inspired to produce his own stories. In 1968, he showed copies of his sequential art to DC Comics editor Dick Giordano and was given a freelance assignment. Wrightson began spelling his name “Berni” in his professional work to distinguish himself from an Olympic diver named Bernie Wrightson, but later restored the final E to his name.

His first professional comic work appeared in House of Mystery #179 in 1968. He continued to work on a variety of mystery and anthology titles for both DC and its principal rival, Marvel Comics. In 1971, with writer Len Wein, Wrightson co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing for DC. He also co-created Destiny, later to become famous in the work of Neil Gaiman. By 1974 he had left DC to work at Warren Publishing who were publishing black-and-white horror-comics magazines. There he produced a series of original work as well as adaptations of stories by H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1975, Wrightson joined with fellow artists Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith to form “The Studio,” a shared loft in Manhattan where the group would pursue creative products outside the constraints of comic book commercialism. Though he continued to produce sequential art, Wrightson at this time began producing artwork for numerous posters, prints, calendars, and coloring books.

Wrightson spent seven years drawing approximately 50 detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, which the artist considers among his most personal work. Wrightson drew the poster for the Stephen King-penned horror film Creepshow, as well as illustrating the comic book adaptation of the film. This led to several other collaborations with King, including illustrations for the novella “Cycle of the Werewolf,” the restored edition of King’s apocalyptic horror epic, “The Stand,” and art for the hardcover editions of “From a Buick 8” and “Dark Tower V.” Wrightson has contributed album covers for a number of bands, including Meat Loaf. The “Captain Sternn” segment of the animated film Heavy Metal is based on the character created by Wrightson for his award-winning short comic series of the same name.

Characters he worked on included Spiderman, Batman and The Punisher, and he provided painted covers for the DC comics Nevermore and Toe Tags, among many others. Recent works include Frankenstein Alive Alive, Dead She Said, the Ghoul and Doc Macabre (IDW Publishing), all co-created with esteemed horror author Steve Niles, and several print/poster/sketchbooks series produced by Nakatomi.

As a conceptual artist, Bernie worked on many movies, particularly in the horror genre: well-known films include Ghostbusters, The Faculty, Galaxy Quest, Spiderman, and George Romero’s Land of the Dead, and Frank Darabont’s Stephen King film The Mist.

Bernie lived in Austin, Texas with his wife Liz and two corgis – Mortimer and Maximillian. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, John and Jeffrey, one stepson, Thomas Adamson, and countless friends and fans. A celebration of his life is planned for later this year.

One of the all time greats, to say the very least.

Check out some of our favorite pieces of Bernie Wrightson art below.



AROUND THE WEB


COMMENTS

17 Comments
  • thegreatiandi

    His art was incredible. Wow…RIP.

    • abyx34

      Cheer up, his art still is incredible 🙂

  • thegunshow

    His work for Creepy Magazine was what got me into comics. A great artist who will be missed.

  • Colin Christian

    Awful news,Bernie was an actual living legend. My condolences to his family.

  • bill bobbs

    OH NOOOOOOO! I was just reading the Stephen King ‘Cycle of the Werewolf’ story made all the better by Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations, when I read this sad news. The world has lost an incredibly talented man. RIP

  • SAD, SAD news. This guy was the best of the best. A true loss.

  • mrdob

    damn, his art was so good.. And he was well loved too.

  • Geno1987

    And Stan Lee devours another soul.

  • SpacemanSpliffz

    another legend bites the dust, rip bernie, and thanks for making my childhood a scarier one

  • Horrormikfl

    This hurts. You are officially getting old when these amazing childhood heroes pass on. So sad.

  • Fernando Alves

    Very sad.. Rip Bernie..Your work lives forever.I love your Swamp Thing.And the others books, like Creepy,Punisher,Aliens, Batman and Eery.

  • Abandoned_Being

    Thank you Bernie for giving us your wonderful talent in art. May now you rest in peace.

  • Ocelot006 .

    But could his death be a ‘Venom’ prequel? Time will tell. I hear that Marvel executives are expected at the funeral.

  • half deformed freak

    May the master rest in peace. Much love to his family.

  • Carlton Fisher

    The picture from Cycle of the Werewolf of the beast reaching through the window of the police cruiser and ripping the sheriff’s face off has stuck with me for decades now, and it was the first time that i ever made an effort to find out the name of an illustrator so I could watch for more of his work.

  • THGrimm

    Bernie’s art gripped me upon first glance. I found these awesome trading cards of his artwork at Monsterfest in PA a couple years ago then got his Frankenstein for Christmas thereafter. Ugh, a great loss to the world. He had amazing vision and did our favorite characters justice.
    R.I.P. Bernie.

  • sonofsmog

    Love Wrighton but Joann Daley did the Creepshow box office poster version, while Jack Kamen (who was an artist for E.C.) did the comicbook version.

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