His illustrations may have caused you to dread the next full moon, avoid the swamp on your shortcut home, or ignite your imagination with a peek into the post-apocalypse. Through his artwork, Bernie Wrightson has influenced and inspired generations of horror fans, so it is with great sadness that we inform readers that the prolific artist has passed away at the age of 68 after a long battle with brain cancer.
A fan of EC Comics growing up, Bernie Wrightson, aka "Berni," began working on projects for both DC and Marvel early in his career, co-creating the complex character Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein in the early ’70s. Bernie later worked for Warren Publishing, where he helped bring H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe stories to life on the paneled page.
Wrightson also was a frequent collaborator with Stephen King, illustrating the iconic Creepshow poster (and the film's official graphic novel) and creating artwork for Cycle of the Werewolf, The Stand, From a Buick 8, and The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla. He also provided concept art for Frank Darabont's big screen adaptation of The Mist, as well as other films such as Ghostbusters, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, and The Faculty.
In recent years, Bernie teamed up with author Steve Niles for a number of horror comic book series, including Frankenstein Alive Alive and Doc Macabre, continuing to dazzle readers with artwork that had his own unique style that lovingly paid homage to horror of the past.
Bernie will be dearly missed, and his eye-grabbing artwork and deep passion for the horror genre will no doubt continue to inspire and set a high standard for generations of future artists. Stephen King shared his condolences on Twitter.
RIP Bernie Wrightson, a good friend and a great collaborator. I will miss him.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 19, 2017
John Carpenter also shared a heartfelt message about Bernie's passing on his Facebook page:
"Bernie Wrightson was one of the great artists of our times. He worked in comics, but his sensibility was that of a master. Bernie was such a nice man and I will miss him terribly."
Below, you can read Liz's message to Bernie's fans, as well as his official obituary (via BernieWrightson.com).
It is with great sorrow that I must announce the passing of my beloved husband, Bernie. We thank you for all the years of love and support. His obituary is below:
After a long battle with brain cancer, legendary artist Bernie Wrightson has passed away.
Bernie “Berni” Wrightson (born October 27, 1948, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) was an American artist known for his horror illustrations and comic books. He received training in art from reading comics, particularly those of EC, as well as through a correspondence course from the Famous Artists School. In 1966, Wrightson began working for The Baltimore Sun newspaper as an illustrator. The following year, after meeting artist Frank Frazetta at a comic-book convention in New York City, he was inspired to produce his own stories. In 1968, he showed copies of his sequential art to DC Comics editor Dick Giordano and was given a freelance assignment. Wrightson began spelling his name “Berni” in his professional work to distinguish himself from an Olympic diver named Bernie Wrightson, but later restored the final E to his name.
His first professional comic work appeared in House of Mystery #179 in 1968. He continued to work on a variety of mystery and anthology titles for both DC and its principal rival, Marvel Comics. In 1971, with writer Len Wein, Wrightson co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing for DC. He also co-created Destiny, later to become famous in the work of Neil Gaiman. By 1974 he had left DC to work at Warren Publishing who were publishing black-and-white horror-comics magazines. There he produced a series of original work as well as adaptations of stories by H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1975, Wrightson joined with fellow artists Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith to form “The Studio,” a shared loft in Manhattan where the group would pursue creative products outside the constraints of comic book commercialism. Though he continued to produce sequential art, Wrightson at this time began producing artwork for numerous posters, prints, calendars, and coloring books.
Wrightson spent seven years drawing approximately 50 detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, which the artist considers among his most personal work. Wrightson drew the poster for the Stephen King-penned horror film Creepshow, as well as illustrating the comic book adaptation of the film. This led to several other collaborations with King, including illustrations for the novella “Cycle of the Werewolf,” the restored edition of King’s apocalyptic horror epic, “The Stand,” and art for the hardcover editions of “From a Buick 8” and “Dark Tower V.” Wrightson has contributed album covers for a number of bands, including Meat Loaf. The “Captain Sternn” segment of the animated film Heavy Metal is based on the character created by Wrightson for his award-winning short comic series of the same name.
Characters he worked on included Spiderman, Batman and The Punisher, and he provided painted covers for the DC comics Nevermore and Toe Tags, among many others. Recent works include Frankenstein Alive Alive, Dead She Said, the Ghoul and Doc Macabre (IDW Publishing) all co-created with esteemed horror author Steve Niles, and several print/poster/sketchbooks series produced by Nakatomi.
As a conceptual artist, Bernie worked on many movies, particularly in the horror genre: well-known films include Ghostbusters, The Faculty, Galaxy Quest, Spiderman, and George Romero’s Land of the Dead, and Frank Darabont’s Stephen King film The Mist.
Bernie lived in Austin, Texas with his wife Liz and two corgis – Mortimer and Maximillian. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, John and Jeffrey, one stepson, Thomas Adamson, and countless friends and fans. A celebration of his life is planned for later this year.