Bernie Wrightson, creator of Swamp Thing, dies at age 68

by Joseph Marcas
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Bernie “Berni” Wrightson, acclaimed illustrator and creator, passed away March 19, 2017, in his home in Austin, TX, due to complications from brain cancer.

You can read his obituary on his website here.

Wrightson was born on October 27, 1948 in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Growing up in Baltimore, Wrightson would come to be influenced by his love of EC horror comics. He would receive training through the Famous Artists School, an art correspondence course institution still operating today that has taught artists the like of Norman Rockwell. Wrightson’s talent would lead to take a job as an illustrator at the Baltimore Sun at the young age of 18.

In 1968, Wrightson met Frank Frazetta at a comic book convention where Frazetta encouraged the young Wrightson to continue to work on his craft. The artist would submit his work to DC’s Dick Giordano, who was the executive editor at the time. This in turn led to the Wrightson’s first work which is a story called “The Man Who Murdered Himself” for issue #179 of House & Mystery in 1969.

This initial work would be followed by what many consider to be Wrightson’s masterpieces. In 1971, along with writer Len Wein, Wrightson would create the character he would be most remembered for in Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing would go on to be included in the greater DC comics universe as well as the subject of one DC’s earliest live action movies in Swamp Thing from 1982.

In 1974, Wrightson would leave DC Comics to work with Warren Publishing (which produced magazines and comics focused on film and horror such as Vampirella). While working there, Wrightson would produce one of his most famous works in which he produced a series of illustrations for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. His work here would received widespread critical acclaim and, according to his wife, was the artist’s personal favorite.

Stephen King would collaborate with Wrightson for some of his works. Wrightson would illustrate the movie poster and comic book adaptation of King’s movie Creepshow, his short novel Cycle of the Werewolf, and the illustrations for a restored edition of one of King’s most prominent works in The Stand.

Wrightson would retire from comics in January 2017 due to health complications. He is survived by his wife Liz, two children and stepson.

Click here to view Wrightson galleries from his personal website.

Bernie “Berni” Wrightson

(October 27, 1948- March 19, 2017)

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