Thursday, August 25, 2016

Notes on Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson
Bernie Wrightson (1948-on) began drawing comics professionally in the late 1960s, starting with House of Mystery #179. His dark, expressive style seemed perfectly suited for DC's newly revitalized horror comics of the era. He's cited Graham Ingels (of EC Comics fame) as an inspiration, but Frank Frazetta's influence is also present in his early work. Wrightson combined fine brushwork with heavy usages of black. As a result, his drawings are often high contrast with a special emphasis on lighting. I loved how mundane details such as the folds in people's clothing, overlapping blades of grass and random cracks in walls (among other things) were carefully crafted. The high point of his comics career is his co-creation (along with writer Len Wein) of the Swamp Thing in House of Secrets #92. The character's popularity led to his own self-titled series in 1972. Wrightson's ten-issue run elevated horror comics to a new artistic standard. Later, his contributions to the black and white magazines Creepy and Eerie also proved significant. The artist drew few superhero comics, increasing his output during the 1980s and 1990s, but often with mixed results. Still, in my opinion, Wrightson is among the best comic book artists of the bronze age. For fellow collectors, I also recommend his work in Plop, House of Mystery, House of Secrets and Kong the Untamed. See today's posts or more Wrightson issues. See also this blog's Wrightson checklist or Top 10 Wrightson comics.

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