Some classics never die and "Frankenstein's Monster" is one of them. And could anyone imagine a comic book artist better suited to take on Mary Shelly's creation than Bernie Wrightson? Nope.
Bernard Albert "Berni(e)" Wrightson was born October 27, 1948 in Dundalk, Maryland and today he is widely famous for his detailed horror illustrations. His special style has been dominating comic book series, horror, and mystery stories since the early 70s. Editions of "Secrets of Haunted House", "Batman" or "Swamp Thing" bear his signature trademark and stnd out through his distinctive style.
Drawn towards the fantasy and horror genre, Wrightson first featured in Warren Publishing's Creepy #9 (cover date June 1966) at age 18 and later began working for The Baltimore Sun newspaper as an illustrator. After meeting Frank Frazetta, Bernie first became inspired to produce his own illustrated stories which he then published with DC Comics. It was with DC that Bernie created his first professional comic book story, "The Man Who Murdered Himself", in 1968. It appeared in House of Mystery No. 179 (March/April 1969).
A few years later, he started working for Marvel's SILVER AGE HORROR series Chamber of Darkness and Tower of Shadows, therby bringing his intricate pen-and-ink drawing-style to DC's rival. Yet he returned to DC to co-create The Swamp Thing togehter with writer Len Wein - probably not knowing that this was to become one of his most famous creatures.
In January 1974, Bernie Wrightson left DC to do more work for Warren Publishing. There he produced a series of amazing artwork such as a black-and-white short story adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat", "Jenifer", "The Pepper Lake Monster" or H.P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air". All the while horror had been his favoured topic and he experimented with various creative techniques.
In the 1980s Wrightson contributed artwork to films and book projects. The animated film Heavy Metal or a collaboration with horror writer Stephen King must be mentioned, as well as his contribution to the production design for the characters the Reavers for For Joss Whedon's 2005 film Serenity. Bernie Wrightson has illustrated cards for collectible card games and he has created album covers for a number of bands, including Meat Loaf.
As a dedicated Mary Shelly fan, he had already worked on a much noticed Frankenstein project in the 80ies - for which he spent seven years drawing approximately 50 detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Mary Shelley's novel. In 2012 he returned to his passion and collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! published by IDW Publishing. "Alive Alive #1" picks up the sad monster’s story right where Mary Shelley left it and follows it for 13 issues. The book won him a National Cartoonists Society's Award.
Bernie Wrightson died March 18, 2017.