Pg. 10; Bernie Wrightson pencils and inks; image size 10" x 15"
Swamp ThingAfter having been banished from comics pages during the moral panics of the 1950s, horror titles finally made a roaring comeback with the loosening of the Comics Code in the late 1960s, allowing Bernie Wrightson, among others, to indulge their boyhood love of the macabre and grotesque. The final page from the origin story of the Swamp Thing is full of longing and a deep sense of sadness, words not usually used to describe horror anthology stories, but in the hands of a young virtuoso such as Bernie Wrightson, the comic art form is elevated to poetic levels. This sort of phenomenon is not unknown to the comic book industry but it doesn't happen often, the simultaneous launching of a beloved hero, as well as the birth of an iconic artist.
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Starting out as an amateur, a meeting with Frank Frazetta at a comic convention in 1967 inspired Bernie Wrightson to pursue his dream of becoming a comic book artist, he began working for DC after contributing work samples to Dick Giordano, in the Silver Age he would illustrate short stories in horror anthologies, in one of those tales he invented the Swamp Thing, who would be granted his own title, which Bernie drew the first ten issues of, then he moved over to Warren, known for their macabre content, and grew his fan base, at one point he was living in the same building as Al Milgrom, Howard Chaykin and Walt Simonson. He left comics to form an artist's collective known as 'The Studio' where he would concentrate on posters and lithographs, portfolios and the like, his adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is commonly regarded as his finest achievement. His pen and ink and brush work on this black and white collection is elegant and emotionally resonant. He also collaborated with Stephen King on adapting his work like Creepshow. In later years he did spot work on comics, while continuing his poster work, notably illustrating the popular Batman: The Cult series. He passed away in 2017 after a long battle with brain cancer.