The PopCult Bookshelf
Bernie Wrightson is one of the greatest comic book artists to come to prominence in the 1970s. His sleek style, influenced by the legendary EC Comics artists Roy Krenkel and Graham “Ghastly” Ingels, came to define modern gothic horror in comics. he co-created Swamp Thing with Len Wein, and went on to do amazing work for Warren Publications like “Creepy” and Eerie, and also created an amazing illustrated version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”
Some folks might also remember his science fiction humor strip, “Captain Sternn,” which ran in Heavy Metal magazine and also turned up as one of the best segments of the 1981 animated film based on the magazine.
Earlier this week Wrightson, 65, suffered a series of small strokes and was hospitalized. The early prognosis is good and he has health insurance that will keep him from taking a huge financial hit, but it’s likely that he will miss several weeks worth of convention appearances and book signings.
With that in mind, and as a way to help one of our favorite artists replace some lost income, today we’re going to recommend a few books and items you can buy to appreciate the genius of his work while helping him make up for being out of action during the busy comic book convention season.
I’m going to try and focus on works for which he will earn royalties or at least get a cut of the sale price. That’s why we’re not including “Creepshow” or “Captain Sternn” here, since neither of those are currently in print and Wrightson wouldn’t get a cut of secondary market sales. It would be nice if new collections of that work could be scheduled for publication soon.
At Wrightson’s website, you can find links to his original art agent and his Zazzle shop, but unfortunately his webstore that sells prints and signed books is offline at the moment. That’s a real shame because his prints are beautiful. His Zazzle shop is a great way to get his work on T shirts, mugs, mousepads and tote bags.
Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein (Kindle Edition)
by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
illustrated by Bernie Wrightson
Dark Horse/Amazon Digital Services
I don’t usually recommend digital books. It’s just a realm into which I have yet to dive, but in this case, this is one of Wrightson’s major works, and it’s currently out of print as a book. Plus he’ll get money from this version quicker.
This is not a graphic novel. Wrightson spent years working on exquisite illustrations that bring Shelley’s work to life, but keeps all her original text. Some consider this Wrightson’s best work ever. The level of intricate detail, always evident in Wrightson’s work, is taken to new heights in these glorious black-and-white drawings. Many of the illustrations have been sold as fine art prints over the years. Wrightson’s Frankenstein is a masterpiece of pen and ink, and should be seen by any fan of fine illustration, as well as fans of classic horror.
Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightston
written by various
art by Bernie Wrightson and various
Kindle edition $9.99
Wrightson created many terrific stories for Warren Publishing in the 1970s, working with writers like Bruce Jones, Nicola Cuti and Bill DuBay, and collaborating with artists, Carmine Infantino and Howard Chaykin. He also adapted clasic stories by Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.
All of those stories, in black and white and color, along with all of his frontpiece illustrations for “Creepy” and “Eerie,” are collected in this one volume with oversized pages and crisp reproduction.
This is among the cream of the crop of Warren’s output and is a must-have collection for any serious fan of modern horror.
Monstrous Collection of Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson
by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson
Monstrous Collection of Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson
Steve Niles, the creator of “30 Days of Night” teamed up with Wrightson for three mini-series, “Dead She Said,” “The Ghoul” and “Doc Macabre,” and all three are collected in this beautiful hardcover, presented in black-and-white so you can enjoy the sheer beauty of Wrightson’s artwork.
The stories are great updates of classic horror themes coupled with Film Noir overtones and they all take place in a shared universe, so the idea of these characters meeting up in the future is very possible. This collection presents clever, intelligent writing with spectacular art, so it’s a can’t-miss proposition.
Roots of The Swamp Thing vol.1
written by Len Wein
art by Bernie Wrightson and Nestor Redondo
With the possible exception of “Creepshow,” this is Wrightson’s highest-profile work. Created with Len Wein for a one-off story in “House of Secrets,” then expanded into an entire series, “Swamp Thing” became the definitive swamp monster in comics. Alan Moore launched his career as a superstar writer with his 1980s take on this character, but it was Wein and Wrightson who gave him an excellent run of stories on which to base his take of the muck monster.
This edition collects the original tale by Wein and Wrightson, and the first thirteen issues of the “Swamp Thing” comic book. The first ten of those were drawn by Wrightson and basically made him a star comic book artist. Wrightson gets to show off his chops here as he ably handles gothic horror, science fiction, superheroes, Lovecraftian terror and romance.
These are really great stories (Batman even shows up in one) and as with some of the books listed above, belong in the library of any avid horror fan.
Bernie Wrightson is a master artist who pretty much owns the horror genre, but he’s also a hell of a nice guy and while he’s temporarily down, we send him our best wishes and hope that you check out his work and help the guy out a bit while he recovers. These books are just the tip of the iceberg of his amazing career. If you like what you see here, keep digging. There’s a goldmine of great artwork here.