Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

R.I.P. Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017)

Bernie Wrightson has died at the age of 68. He had been fighting brain cancer for a while, which had already forced him to retire from drawing a few months ago. Wrightson, of course, is one of the more famous comic book artists, mainly because he co-created Swamp Thing in 1972. He also drew the adaptation of Creepshow for Stephen King and did illustrations for King’s Cycle of the Werewolf and for a version of Frankenstein. These projects helped make his name outside of the narrow world of comics, although he never stopped drawing those, either. His most recent work was Frankenstein Alive, Alive! with Steve Niles, which is utterly gorgeous.

Obviously, everyone reading this knows Wrightson’s work from Swamp Thing, but I’m pretty sure I first saw his work on The Cult, the absolutely insane Jim Starlin-written Batman mini-series from 1988. The story is kind of crap, but Wrightson’s art is astonishing and beautiful, and I became a fan. I don’t have a ton of Wrightson art, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s a genius. His work on Niles’s Frankenstein book is stunning, and while it’s sad that we won’t get more of it, the few issues that did come out are simply beautiful to behold. He drew a lot of scattered stuff in his career, and I should probably track it down. Sigh.

I wrote about Wrightson during my “Year of the Artist” at the old blog, so I’ll just point you that way: Part One (Swamp Thing #1), Part Two (Dreadstar #7), Part Three (The Weird #3), Part Four (The Cult #4), and Part Five (Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #2). And while most places will show Swamp Thing stuff, here’s Monster Truck Batmobile:

Wrightson will be missed. Go read your Swamp Thing comics to celebrate his life!


  1. Terrible-D

    This just wrecked me. Mr. Wrightson was one of my all time favorite artists. His Swamp Thing work was my first exposure. Books like Batman The Cult and Punisher POV didn’t have very good stories, but visually were amazing. His Frankenstein illustrations are breathtaking. There’s just too many examples of the extreme amount of talent the man possessed.

  2. tomfitz1

    Let’s not forget DC’s THE WEIRD and those back-up stories in DREADSTAR that Mr. Wrightson did.

    Brain cancer is a tough one to try and beat, but I hope that he went quickly and painlessly as my mother did when she had the same thing.

    Mr. Wrightson was a terrific visual storyteller and he will be missed.

  3. Jeff Nettleton

    One of the first names I learned to recognize in the 70s. My personal favorites, though, are his Captain Sternn stories, from Heavy Metal and Kitchen Sink. That’s Berni just having fun.

  4. Le Messor

    The use of light in both drafts of that Frankenstein piece is amazing. I envy that talent.

    I know him from working a lot with Stephen King (him, not me) – mainly his illustrations in The Stand. He was truly a great artist.

    Also, the Dreadstar work that Tom Fitz mentioned.

    Condolences to all.

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