Artist Profile: Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson (b. Oct 27th, 1948 –   )
Media: Comics, Illustration, Concept Art
Medium: Pencils, Pen & Ink

Looking for gruesome visuals to inspire a horror campaign or adventure?  Bernie Wrightson has been arousing fear for forty years.  From four color terror to film conceptual horrors, Wrightson is one of the world’s greatest horror artists.

Frankenstein Ill. (c) Bernie Wrightson
Frankenstein Ill. (c) Bernie Wrightson

When I was a studio art major, we would have to do masters studies.  A masters study was where we would have to pick a master artist in a given field and then try to duplicate one of their pieces.  The idea is that you learn technique by emulating the greats.  When it came time for pen & ink, my choice was Bernie Wrightson, and the piece was from his illustrated version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus.

Style

Bernie’s style is very dark, tends to have deep shadows and has deep roots in the classic sequential narrative look of the EC horror comics from the 50s.  A lot of his work depicts creatures with slime or moisture hanging from them.  He was influenced greatly by “Ghastly” Graham Ingels of the EC era who was spectacular at creating swampy scenes.

Bio

Wrightson began his career as a cartoonist for the Baltimore Sun in ’67 but soon quit due to the shitty work environment (office politics).  He quickly found a home with DC Comics and began penciling the supernatural title, House of Mystery and soon after began working on House of Secrets.

It would be with the House of Secrets that Bernie would gain fame when he, along with Len Wein, created the Swamp Thing.  After Swamp Thing, Wrightson’s next major contribution to art would be his illustrated version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus.  The illustrations were rendered in pen & ink and are reminiscent of engravings from the 1800s.  The book was originally published in ’83 and had a re-issue in ’95.

He continued to work in the darkside of comics with the Batman story The Cult and Batman vs. Aliens as well as stuff with the Punisher.  He was picked by Stephen King to do the comic book adaptation of George Romero’s Creepshow as well as illustrate King’s own Cycle of the Werewolf.

He has done conceptual art for Heavy Metal, both Ghostbusters movies, Thir13en Ghosts, Galaxy Quest, My Demon Lover, and The Faculty. He was also the creature designer Stephen King’s new The Mist and Romero’s Land of the Dead.

Currently Bernie is working with Steve Niles (of 30 Days of Night fame) on a new comic titled City of Others and is also gathering the original illustrations for an anniversary edition of his Frankenstein book.

Bernie Wrightson’s Site
Wrightson’s Frankenstein
Dark, But Shining’s Interview

Listening to: Sepultura – Dante XXI – City of Dis

2 thoughts on “Artist Profile: Bernie Wrightson

  1. Love Bernie Wrightson’s stuff. I’m looking forward to the new books. Yeah! I do think his Frankenstein is the tops.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *