This weekend, as winter turned to spring, we lost (in my humble opinion) one of the greatest comic and illustration artists to inhabit this plane.
Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017) was a prolific monster artist who worked with Heavy Metal, Marvel, DC and more- with Swamp Thing and Frankenstein being some of his most beautiful illustrations. His work in Frankenstein, now seen as a monumental achievement amongst illustrators (7 years, unpaid… a true labor of love!) had such a profound awakening in my psyche as a child that I find I still look to the plates today as inspiration.
He used lines - simple lines - in his ink work so expertly that every blade of glass, every shadow, every light source and environment came alive (much like Frankenstein's monster!)
I have a story about Mr. Wrightson, which is one of my favorite Convention stories to share, even though it occurred over a decade ago-
I walked up to Bernie's table while perusing one of the Artist's Alley halls at Dragon Con... I noticed the art and those childhood memories of the terrifying (and compelling!) Frankenstein illustrations, and said:
Me - Oh my gosh! We studied you in class.
Bernie - What?
Me - My INKING 101 class! I go to SCAD- I’m studying Sequential Art.
Bernie - They teach comics in school now?
Me - Yep! It’s a whole major of study, actually.
(Bernie leans over and yell across the alley someone’s name that I don’t recall- He was a Classic Movie Monsters painter working with acrylics.)
Bernie - HEY (name)! THEY TEACH COMICS IN SCHOOL NOW!
Someone - WHAT-?
Bernie - I SAID THEY TEACH COMICS IN SCHOOL NOW!
Someone - WHY-?
Bernie - I DON’T KNOW BUT THEY DO!
Someone - WE DIDN’T HAVE THAT BACK IN MY DAY!
(Bernie looks back at me)
Bernie - Don't listen to him, he's old and crazy. I would know- because I'm old and crazy!
Rest in Peace, you crazy old bat.