Comic artist Bernie Wrightson announced his retirement from comics. The news came through a Facebook post from his wife Liz, citing “lasting damage” from “yet another brain surgery” as the reason.
Wrightson was given his first freelance assignment from DC Comics editor Dick Giordano after showing him copies of the sequential art he’d produced. His first professional work was a story called ‘The Man Who Murdered Himself in “House of Mystery” #179.
In 1971, Wrightson and Len Wein co-created Swamp Thing in “House of Secrets” #92, and launched the first “Swamp Thing” ongoing series the next year. In 1974, Wrightson left DC to produce a series of short story adaptations in Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror-comics magazine, including Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.”
Wrightston joined artists Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith to form The Studio in 1975. The Studio was a shared loft where the group would pursue creative products outside of comics. Wrightson spent seven years creating fifty illustrations for an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
He would continue to delve into horror oriented work in 1983 when he illustrated the comic book adaptation of Stephen King’s Creepshow film. Wrightson would go on to collaborate with King many times such as illustrating King’s Novella Cycle of the Werewolf (a limited edition portfolio of Wrightson’s art for this project has just recently reached its goal on Kickstarter), the restored edition of King’s The Stand, and the fifth installment of King’s Dark Tower series, Wolves of the Calla.
Wrightson would take one last jaunt into the mainstream of the comics medium with his many collaborations with Jim Starlin. The two worked together on things such as “Heroes for Hope” and “Heroes Against Hunger,” benefit comics to aid in famine relief, “The Weird,” “Batman: The Cult,” and “Marvel Graphic Novel No. 29.” Wrightson’s last work was piece in “Eerie” for Dark Horse.
In July of 2014 Wrightson was admitted to a hospital after a series of small strokes. That December he he underwent surgery for the removal of a brain tumor. This was followed up by radiotherapy and chemotherapy in June of 2015. In 2016 symptoms of the tumor began to resurface and Wrightson required another surgery.
Along with Liz’s note, below are some more great pieces by Wrightson.
Get well soon, Bernie.
Dear Fans and Friends,
I apologize for our silence for the past few months. Last November Bernie began falling again, and having obvious problems with perception. He had to undergo yet another brain surgery to relieve bleeding, and then spend several weeks undergoing in-patient rehabilitation. Unfortunately, it appears that he has lasting damage: he has extremely limited function on his left side…, and is unable to walk or reliably use his left hand, among other limitations.
We have had to come to the sad conclusion that he is now effectively retired: he will produce no new art, and he is unable to attend conventions. Should this situation change I will happily announce it here.
He can still sign his name (in fact he was signing Kickstarter prints in the hospital!), and is otherwise pretty healthy and has good cognition. We expect to continue releasing signed prints, and offering occasional pieces of art for sale from the collection that remains. We both thank all of you for your continuing support and good wishes!
All our best,
Liz and Bernie Wrightson