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In Memoriam: Bernie Wrightson — 1948-2017

Bernie Wrightson, the iconic horror comic book artist, died on Saturday, March 18, 2017. On Wrightson’s website, his wife announced that he passed after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 68 years old.

Among his many credits, Wrightson is remembered for co-creating DC’s Swamp Thing with Len Wein in 1971. In addition to comics, the character starred in Wes Craven’s ’82 cult flick and a TV show in the early ’90s. He has worked on big name characters for DC and Marvel, such as Batman, Spider-Man, and the Punisher.

Wrightson was born on October 27, 1948 in Baltimore, MD. He learned about art through reading comics then in a correspondence course from the Famous Artists School. He started working as an illustrator for The Baltimore Sun newspaper in ’66 then a year later after he met Frank Frazetta at a convention in New York City he wanted to start creating his own stories.

In ’68 he showed some of his art to DC editor Dick Giordano and was given freelance work, with his first professional comic work in House of Mystery #179. He worked on many different titles for DC and Marvel, co-creating Swamp Thing, as well as Destiny.

In ’74 he moved on to Warren Publishing, producing original art and adaptations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft in their black and white horror comics. A year later he, Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith formed “The Studio” in Manhattan to work on projects outside of comics.

During this period Wrightson created sequential art, along with art for posters, prints, calendars, and coloring books. He provided art for an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, did the poster for Stephen King’s Creepshow film, and illustrated the comic adaption of the movie. He did more work for King, including the art for hardcovers of From a Buick 8 and Dark Tower V. He also worked on album cover art.

Wrightson has also served as a conceptual artist on films like Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, The Faculty, Land of the Dead, and The Mist.

“Bernie Wrightson as one of the masters of horror artwork in comics and his impact in that arena will be long remembered. From his four-color work on Swamp Thing to his black-and-white masterwork, Frankenstein, to a long list of other projects, his career was marked by a single watch word: excellence. He was a Baltimore boy, born in Dundalk, and his first job was illustrating for The Baltimore Sun, before he went onto great glories in the comics industry. Fans in his hometown have never forgotten him. My condolences to his wife, Liz Wrightson, his family, his friends, and his many fans,” said Steve Geppi, President and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors.

To read the official announcment of the Master of the Macabre's passing from his wife, Liz Wrightson, visit the official Bernie Wrightson web site here.

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