Papercuts: Bernie Wrightson Tribute
By Ryan “HB” Mount
Recently comics and especially horror comics lost one of the all-time greats in Bernie Wrightson. If you ever read an old issue of Creepy or Eerie, or an older issue of Tales of the Crypt, you would have seen Bernie Wrightson’s work. He and writer Len Wein also created Swamp Thing in the pages of DC Comics’ House of Secrets.
He had an incredible nearly 50-year long career in comics spanning from the late 1960’s until just this past year.
We decided to do some back-bin issue diving and celebrate and review some of Wrightson’s work.
Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 (IDW)
Wrightson published the definitive comics adaptation of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein back in 1983 for Marvel Comics. This series, which began publishing in 2012, was billed as the sequel to Frankenstein.
Very often when sequels are so announced to classic years later, they tend to fall flat or feel uninspired. Once you open to the first page of this book, this is one of those rare cases of being able to go home again.
While the story was well written by Steve Niles, the true masterwork is Wrightston’s beautiful and haunting black and white art work. The art in here was meant to be looked and pondered over as each page is filled with incredible detail. Although, there is plenty of black ink on the page, there are enough pencil lines showing through that make this book pop as much as any colored book on the stand of today.
The series only lasted 3 issues until Wrightston fell too ill to continue work on it. It is hard to know the future of this without him, but these three issues are worth the read and should be added to any horror, Frankenstein, or even comics fan and collector.
Ratings: 5 out of 5
Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre! #1 (Pacific Comics)
A perfect horror anthology. One tale of Frankenstein. One of a lake monster and the monster of a man who hunts him. And a rendering of an Edgar Allen Poe’s Black Cat.
While these are all tales of horror, Wrightston again shows that his style can fit into anything from 1890’s horror to “modern times.” There is not a single wasted or rushed space in every panel. While the coloring does seem to date the book a little, the artwork still really shines through the 1980’s coloring techniques.
Ratings: 5 out of 5
The Masterworks Series of Great Comic Book Artists: Berni Wrightson #3 (DC)
Out of all the Berni Wrightson books reviewed, this is the only one that seemed like a slight misstep.
While the artwork remained top notch, the writing of each story was bogged down in an overabundance of text boxes. It a progressive build on text as well as each tale went on. The first tale of the sculptor and his wife sits next to any great stories, but then once the next two stories got rolling, they had so much text on the page that it took away from even the brilliant artwork.
Ratings: 2.5 out of 5
The Weird #1 (DC) – The title says it all. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5
Batman: The Cult Book One: Ordeal (DC) – An off the beaten path tale for Batman. One of the scariest Joker renderings ever. Ratings: 3 out of 5
Tales From the Crypt #2 (Super Genuis/Papercutz) –There is one Wrightson reprint and one lost tale. Two other short stories, one great, one not so much. The Wrightston work alone is worth picking this up. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5
Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #2 (Pacific Comics) – Another classic. Features a HP Lovecraft tale. Ratings: 4 out of 5
Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #3 (Pacific Comics) – Monsters under the bed. Monsters on space planets. And a cautionary and creepy tale made for the Twilight Zone. Ratings: 4 out of 5
Thank you for those who stuck with the column while I had to take a small break. We are back with a regular schedule.
If you like what you read, please like and share this post. If you have a favorite Berni Wrightson work, make sure to tweet @hebruise and tell us all about it! When I am not writing for horror-writers.com you can also find some work I do over at twoheadednerd.com