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Bernie "Berni" Wrightson (born October 27, 1948, Baltimore, Marylandmarker, U.S.marker) is 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 Citymarker, 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. In 1971 he also published BadTime Stories, a horror/sci-fi 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, e.g., along with traditional pen-and-ink and brushwork).

Wrightson had originally been asked by DC to handle the art for its revival of The Shadow, but he left the project early on when he realized he could not produce the necessary minimum number of pages on time.

By 1974. he had left DC to work at Warren Publishing, for whose black-and-white horror-comics magazines he produced a series of original work as well as short story adaptations. As with BadTime Stories, Wrightson experimented with different media in these black-and-white tales: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" featured intricate pen-and-ink work which stood in direct contrast with his brush-dominated Swamp Thing panels. "Jenifer", scripted by Bruce Jones, was atmospherically rendered with gray markers. "The Pepper Lake Monster" was a synthesis of brush and pen-and-ink, whereas H.P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air" was a foray into duotone paper. "Nightfall" was an exercise in ink wash and a subtle "Little Nemo in Slumberland" satire, and "The Muck Monster" a sequential art precursor to Wrightson's Frankenstein, with the Franklin Booth-inspired pen-and-ink style in evidence.

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 even coloring books. He also drew sporadic comics stories and single illustrations for National Lampoon magazine from 1973 - 1983.

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 illustrated the comic book adaptation of the film Stephen King-penned horror film Creepshow,. 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 Wolves of the Calla, the fifth installment of King's Dark Tower series.

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 a character created by Wrightson.

He did production design for the characters the Reavers in the 2005 film Serenity.


Berni Wrightson on editing the magazine Web of Horror:

"That was done by a guy named Richard Sproul outs in Long Islandmarker. His company, Major Magazines, put out Cracked magazine.... A fellow named Terry Bisson tracked down me, Mike Kaluta, and Jeff Jones, and presented us with a proposal to do this black-and-white horror magazine in competition with Creepy. ...Bisson (who was writing blurb copy for romance magazines when I first met him) left after the third issue under very mysterious circumstances — and the running of the whole magazine, for some reason, fell into [writer-artist] Bruce Jones' and my laps (and I can't remember if Terry said, 'Here, you guys take over the editorial', or if we volunteered). Bruce and I put together the whole fourth issue, which had already been assigned. We were working at home! We had to take this incredibly long trip to get [to Major Magazines] — Bruce lived in Flushing at the time and from there we took a train to the end of the line and from there we had to take two buses and then walk about 10 blocks to get to the office! It was an all-day thing and we finally get out to the office.... and the place was empty. All the desks, all the filing cabinets, everything, was gone! ... [W]e never learned where the guy went and what happened to him. We had all this stuff for the fourth issue and we were planning issues five and six — Bruce and I were going to take over the magazine and make it like Creepy or EC Comics — but they just left! ... Whatever had been turned in already, they took with them. I don't think anybody got paid for anything — and Bruce and I took a bath on it".

Selected bibliography

Comic books

Interior art includes:

DC Comics


Other editors

Comic Book Covers only

DC Comics


Other publishers

Trading Cards





Wrightson won the Shazam Award for Best Penciller (Dramatic Division) in 1972 and 1973 for Swamp Thing, the Shazam Award for Best Individual Story (Dramatic) in 1972 for Swamp Thing #1 (with Len Wein).

He has received additional nominations, including for the Shazam Award for Best Inker in 1973 for Swamp Thing, as well as that year's Shazam for Best Individual Story, for "A Clockwork Horror" in Swamp Thing #6 (with Len Wein). He won the Shazam Award for Best Penciller (Dramatic Division) in 1974.

Wrightson received the H.P. Lovecraft Award (also known as the "Howie") at the 2007 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon.


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