As you’ve no doubt heard, Bernie Wrightson, a legend of comic art and illustration, died over the weekend. Wrightson was notable for his amazing skill as an illustrator, particularly of horror and fantasy comics. He was also a key player in Heavy Metal‘s history, holding the distinction of being the first non-European artist to score a Heavy Metal cover (it was issue #5, August 1977) and contributing greatly to the 1981 Heavy Metal film with his creation Captain Sternn. There’s been a lot written about Bernie over the last couple days, on comics blogs and major news sites; if this is the first you’re hearing of Bernie’s passing, or if you’re not sure who he was, we’ll simply direct you to the official obituary posted at BernieWrightson.com.
While many fans consider Wrightson’s strongest work to be the straight-up horror comics or non-sequential illustration, the character and series that brought him his biggest mainstream fame was Swamp Thing, which he created with Len Wein in 1971. A Victorian-era Swamp Thing first appeared in House of Secrets #92, dated June/July of that year:
The standalone series Swamp Thing premiered in October/November 1972, starring an updated version of the Wein/Wrightson beast. Bernie did cover and interior art for the first ten issues, and his vision of the character is what every subsequent Swamp Thing artist has aspired to. Here are the covers from those ten issues: