Bernie Wrightson’s wife, Liz, sadly announced the passing of the legendary comic artist on his official website, stating he had lost his battle with brain cancer on March 18, 2017. He was 69.
Wrightson, who announced his retirement this past January due to disease, was best known for his work on horror comics and being the co-creator of DC Comics iconic horror hero Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein. Throughout his career, he worked with both DC and Marvel, drawing characters such as Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange.
Born in 1948, he was raised reading EC horror comics. At 18, Wrightson began working at The Baltimore Sun as an illustrator and after meeting artist Frank Frazetta at a comic-book convention in New York City, decided to create and illustrate his own stories. In 1968, he presented his work to DC Comics editor Dick Giordano and was given his first freelance assignment.
His first professional comic book story, The Man Who Murdered Himself, appeared in House of Mystery No 179. After that, he became the “go-to” illustrator for both horror and mystery anthology comics at DC.
In 1971, he and Wein co-created Swamp Thing for DC Comics, which also became the first DC film outside of Superman: The Movie. He continued to work with DC until 1974, when he left to work for Warren Publishing, creating black and white adaptations of tales by H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. He also formed The Studio, with fellow artists Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith, to pursue work outside of comic books.
Wrightson began his relationship with horror king Stephen King in 1983, when he collaborated on the comic book adaptation of the horror film Creepshow. Other adaptations include Cycle of the Werewolf, The Stand, and Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book of the Dark Tower series.
He also worked as a conceptual artist on another of film, which include the original Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, Serenity, and Land of the Dead.
Friends have taken to social media, remembering the legend.
— Joss Whedon (@joss) March 19, 2017
Bernie Wrightson was the first comics artist whose work I loved. Oddly, I don't mourn the artist. I mourn the lovely man who told bad jokes.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) March 19, 2017
He is survived by his wife, two sons, and a stepson.