Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Bernie Wrightson's interpretation of Mary Shelley's Monster is the focus of tonight's chapter of Monster-Month.  Anyone who has not seen his work on this book should be required to lay eyes on at least one of the intricately inked pieces because his work is so perfect.

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Imagine spending six or seven years on a single series of illustrations focusing only on one project--one set of pen-and-ink drawings.  That’s just what Bernie Wrightson did when working on his 50 illustrations for an edition of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN.  Before this monsterous project, Bernie had built a powerful career as a comic book artist.

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Having started out as an illustrator for The Baltimore Sun in 1966, he was inspired to produce his own comic book stories after meeting master fantasy/comic book artist Frank Frazetta.  By 1968, he had showed copies of his sequentials to DC Comics editor Dick Giordano, who soon gave him an assignment.

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Wrightson’s first professional comic book story came out in 1968 and was entitled “The Man Who Murdered Himself”.  It appeared in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #179.  He continued working on short stories for anthology titles for DC and, later, Marvel.  

(Not Bernie's swamp monster, but he did this rare one for Marvel.)

It was in 1971 that Bernie and Len Wein co-created the muck monster Swamp Thing for a standalone horror story in HOUSE OF SECRETS #92.  By the next year, the Swamp Thing had his own series set in the regular DC Universe.  Wrightson drew the first ten issues of the series.

In 1972, Wrightson also published BADTIME STORIES a horror/science fiction comics anthology featuring his own scripts and artwork.  Each story being drawn in a different medium (Ink wash, tonal pencil drawings, duoshade paper, screen tones… along with pen-and-ink  and brushwork).

In 1974, he went to work at Warren, a black-and-white horror comics magazine publisher for whom his style of work was perfectly suited.  Here, Wrightson experimented with different media while working on tales like “The Black Cat” by Poe, Lovecraft’s “Cool Air”, Bruce Jones’ “Jenifer”, and other stories like “The Pepper Lake Monster”, “Nightfall” and...
“The Muck Monster”,
a precursor of his later work with Shelley's Monster.

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Wrightson joined with Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta and Barry Windsor-Smith to form “The Studio” in 1974.  It was a loft in Manhattan from which the group would create things outside the constraints of the commercial side of comics.  Wrightson produced sequential art, posters, prints, calendars, coloring books and other products.  He did a several comics stories for NATIONAL LAMPOON magazine for the next ten years.

This is the time in which Wrightson spent his six to seven years with the Frankenstein Monster.

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“Just like everyone else in the 20th century, I was introduced to the monster through the movies. That led to me reading the book. It's a brilliant book but not at all easy to read. The language is very dense and very convoluted. If you fight your way through it's a very good book. It's full of very profound and thoughtful themes and ideas. It's not at all what you expect after watching the movies.”
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“I did it totally on my own. I’ve just been obsessed with Frankenstein since I was a kid, and watching the old Universal movies on TV. I just devoured anything about Frankenstein ever since. The illustrations were completely my idea. I just wanted to illustrate the book."

It took between six and seven years to do all of the illustrations because I would do a paying job which would catch me up for a couple of weeks I could then take off to do another Frankenstein illustration. Anytime I had a free moment and things weren’t so dire that I had to work for money, I would work on Frankenstein. So, I had no publishers, no editors and finished all of the illustrated before I presented them to a publisher.”
(Click to Frankensize)

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And it was good.

“Absolutely a labor of love. It’s the best work I ever did. If I’m not remembered for anything else, I would like it to be that. I just like to think that long, long, long after I’m dead and buried, those illustrations will continue and will be out there. Hopefully, drawing people into this book.”
As of this year, Wrightson returned to Frankenstein’s Monster , collaborating with comics writer Steve Niles for IDW Publishing’s


  1. Bernie Wrightson changed his name to “Berni” in his professional work to distinguish himself from an Olympic diver with the same name.  He later changed it back.
  2. With writer Marv Wolfman, Bernie co-created Destiny in WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #1, a character which would later be used in Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN series.
  3. Wrightson had been asked to handle the art for DC’s revival of THE SHADOW, he had to opt out when he realized he could not produce the necessary pages on time.
  4. Stephen King’s book, CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF, came about because Bernie Wrightson had planned a calendar around the idea of a werewolf story.  King was contacted about writing the story blurbs for each month, but the project quickly grew into a book.
  5. Along with Jim Starlin, Bernie recieved the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 1986 for their work on HEROES FOR HOPE a one-shot comic they came up with to raise money for famine relief in Africa.

Here are some informative links for those interested:

And now, check out the line up that TCM has ready
for Wednesday, October 10, 2012:

8pm - THE HAUNTING (1963)

10pm - THE UNINVITED (1944)


1:30am - DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)

3:30am - THE INNOCENTS (1961)

5:15am - 13 GHOSTS (1960)

And finally, today, we have:

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