Comics fans woke up Sunday to news of the death of industry legend Bernie Wrightson, whose detailed line work took him from the co-creation of DC's Swamp Thing to an illustrated adaptation of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" to work with fellow horror master Stephen King.
He was 68.
Bernie's wife, Liz, announced her husband's death from brain cancer early Sunday morning on his official Facebook page. In January, Liz posted that Bernie had undergone brain surgery after experiencing problems with perception and falling, and that he had extremely limited function on the left side of his body, forcing his retirement both from comics and the convention circuit.
Wrightson was born Oct. 27, 1948, in Baltimore and began his career as an illustrator for the Baltimore Sun newspaper, according to the biography on his website. His first comics work was for DC's anthology series "House of Mystery" in 1968. It was for DC that he and writer Len Wein co-created the character Swamp Thing, the plant-based protector of The Green who went on to star in movies, TV and animation.
Later in his career, Wrightson collaborated frequently with King, illustrating a comics adaptation of the 1982 movie "Creepshow" and providing art for novels such as "The Stand," "From a Buick 8" and "Dark Tower V." Wrightson also drew the cover to Meat Loaf's 1981 album "Dead Ringer."
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Comics artist Zack Dolan, of Atlantic City, said Wrightson, through his "Swamp Thing" and "Frankenstein" work, was partially responsible for his initial interest in comics.
"Even though the stories mostly went over my young head, i was just fascinated by the idea of the monster that was the hero and consumed as much of it as I could," Dolan said. "There was just something about the way he drew monsters that was completely addictively mind-blowing.
"His art actually still informs the way I draw the undead and big, hulking monsters to this day."
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Dale Andrews, of Lawrence Township in Cumberland County, met the Wrightsons in 2015 at Baltimore Comic-Con.
After the show was done for the day, Bernie and Liz happened to be in the same room as Andrews and his friends, and Andrews, though intimidated, walked up to say hello.
"I walked up, told Bernie I loved his work, and he and Liz invited me to sit," said Andrews, who co-hosts the Paper Keg comics podcast.
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He said he and Wrightson spent the rest of the night sharing Coronas and talking about Wrightson's career, including how when then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter told Wrightson that King was interested in working with him, Wrightson's first instinct was to ask Shooter whether he "was sh------ him."
"We had a great time that night. They were so warm and kind. We sat there for hours telling jokes and stories," Andrews said.
Below are just some of the tweets of condolence that have poured in about Wrightson:
As it comes to all of us, the end came for the greatest that ever lived: Bernie Wrightson. My North dark star of youth. A master.— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) March 19, 2017
RIP Bernie Wrightson. His masterful, evocative line work was simply unparalleled. Truly 1 of the greats-he was as kind as he was talented. pic.twitter.com/izmeR77TRo— Jim Lee (@JimLee) March 19, 2017
Woke up to the news that Bernie Wrightson had passed away. We've lost a true legend and one of the nicest people in the business. RIP. pic.twitter.com/zZvmIu4T27— Cullen Bunn (@cullenbunn) March 19, 2017
Bernie Wrightson was a true master of pen & ink, and always so nice when I'd see him at cons and gush over how much I love his art. RIP. pic.twitter.com/GjjpjVjoT6— Becky Cloonan 🗡 (@beckycloonan) March 19, 2017
Hard to be sad about Chuck Berry & Bernie Wrightson 'cuz they changed the art forms they pursued and thus lived amazing lives.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 19, 2017
Heartbreaking. Bernie Wrightson was affable and approachable, treating everyone like a peer. Rest in peace, sir.— Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) March 19, 2017
Back in Kubert School, nobody got bigger talk than Bernie Wrightson. Not Kirby, not Miller, not even Joe himself. Rest in peace.— Clayton Cowles (@ClaytonCowles) March 19, 2017
We hung with Bernie Wrightson for an ENTIRE night. He & Liz were so welcoming and invited us to hang. One of the coolest moments in my life. pic.twitter.com/KrJSJYfmVT— dale_a (@dale_a) March 19, 2017
Bernie Wrightson was comics' Goya. Or rather Goya was fine art's Bernie Wrightson. RIP to a master. pic.twitter.com/KwAF1FcPzJ— Tom King (@TomKingTK) March 19, 2017
Deeply saddened by the loss of Bernie Wrightson-1 of the all-time greats whose superb artistry will live on forever! My condolences to Liz. pic.twitter.com/Ehask8HT4K— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) March 19, 2017
Bernie Wrightson was the loveliest man who drew the most gruesome things in the loveliest way. Today is hard.— Colleen Doran (@ColleenDoran) March 19, 2017
Gutted to hear about @BernieWrightson's passing. It was largely his work that got me into horror comics. Legend.— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) March 19, 2017
RIP Bernie Wrightson. What a staggering talent and nice guy. You'll never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/96dFzGRcDW— Greg Capullo (@GregCapullo) March 19, 2017