One of the most sobering aspects of growing older is the loss of the people around you that have had a profound effect on your life. The loss of reference points to different times in your life, one by one, inevitably pass away.
Those of you reading this right now, who didn’t really connect with me here, other than the fact that “there go the old guys again”, will eventually understand my opening statement on a personal level, rather than anecdotally.
Bernie Wrightson passed away on March 19th 2017 after a long battle with brain cancer.
I never knew Bernie Wrightson on a personal level, but he really did influence my life. Here is the link to an early post of Tales from the Comicdenn which recounts that story. I hope you go back and read it before moving forward with this article, as I think, it says a lot about the man.
I had the pleasure of not only spending some time in conversation with him on those two occasions, but also at Fan Expo in 2014 in Toronto. Bernie really seemed like a very humble guy and never made you feel like you were bothering him. He genuinely enjoyed having a serious conversation about the topics you wanted to discuss. He was gracious enough to autograph a beautiful hardcover copy of Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson.
As shown in the previous post, I had purchased an original piece of artwork that was only minimally inked. I scanned it and completed it and asked him if I could use the inked version for my business card for Comicdenn.com my website and business, and he enthusiastically gave me permission. To say not every creator would have been so generous is an understatement.
He is missed by many people who had a very personal connection with him and I have attached a couple links to those tributes.
It has also just been announced that there is a Wrightson Artifact Edition in the works which will feature early Swamp Thing stories as well as much more.
So , may you rest in peace Bernie Wrightson, and thank you for sharing your incredible gift with the rest of us.For an artist who is best known for some pretty frightening images and stories, no one could make monstrous look so beautiful.
Thanks for the thoughtful essay. At 65 now myself, I’ve found I’ve grown old along with some wonderful talent, and Berni was one of the best. I first discovered his work before he became a professional, back in the fanzine days. But even after he was working for companies like DC, doing that incredible material for titles like House of Secrets and House of Mystery, he also kept contributing to zines. Because that was where he came from.
Kaluta, Vess, Jeff Jones, Bode…they were the new generation that came up out of fan publishing days circa 1969-1970, and injected new life into comics as (many) the old guard from the 40s and 50s moved aside. But they also were greatly influenced by the great artists, not only in comics (in Berni’s case, Graham Ingles and even Frazetta) but great artists in the world of in general book and magazine illustration. Berni especially was inspired by Franklin Booth and Joseph Clement Coll, superb masters of the line, and his Frankenstein was the break-through book that channeled those artists into modern storytelling. In doing so, he was as good as they were at their finest.
I didn’t know Berni as intimately as I wish, since we only bumped into each other over the years, at conventions for the most part. And I think he was there working on my one-and-only visit to The Studio, when the four friends (with Barry Smith) shared that amazing space in downtown NYC.
But he was always a gentleman and a pleasure to talk to, however briefly, as things got busier and busier at shows, for both of us. But it’s is his work that lives on for me, and what a body of work it is. Thanks, Berni, for giving us so much fabulous artwork and storytelling.
Thank you for the thoughtful essay.Your closing paragraph says it all Bud.Thanks for taking the time to comment.
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