Sunday, 19 March 2017

RIP, Bernie Wrightson. Plus 2000 AD in February 1979.

Bernie Wrightson

It's not been a happy day for comics fans today, with the death of legendary artist Bernie Wrightson at the age of sixty eight.

I must confess that, thanks to pure happenstance, my childhood acquaintance with Bernie Wrightson's work was all but non-existent, thanks to me never having encountered any comics drawn by him.

Instead, I first encountered him via the book The Studio which featured a collection of his work alongside that of Barry Smith, Mike Kaluta and Jeffrey Jones and, even to my untutored eyes, it was obvious at once that Wrightson's work possessed a remarkable mixture of style, character, mood, dark humour and technical expertise that went far beyond and above the norm. Some artists, through sheer force of talent, make it impossible for you to ignore them and Bernie Wrightson was one of them.


Also above and beyond the norm, in its own way, was 2000 AD which in February 1979 reached the milestone of its 100th Prog. Had anyone ever doubted that it'd make that milestone?

Not if they had any sense, they hadn't. It was clear from the start that it was a comic that had the potential to become a phenomenon - and a phenomenon it became.

But just what was it offering us in that fateful spell, thirty eight years and one month ago?

Apart from it hitting its centennial, the main points of interest are the rather belting Brian Bolland cover for Prog 98 and the fact that we get the return of Dan Dare and Sam Slade, both of whom, I think, had disappeared mid-story when we'd last seen them. Now, at last, we got our chance to find out what had happened to them.

What with this and Judge Dredd's epic Judge Cal storyline, we must all have felt we were being well and truly spoiled.

2000 AD, Prog 98

2000 AD, Prog 99

2000 AD, Prog 100

2000 AD, Prog 101, Dan Dare and the Mekon


TC said...

To this day, I've never seen a Dan Dare strip. Judge Dredd, Sam Slade/Robo Hunter, and Strontium Dog have all been reprinted in comic books and/or trade paperbacks here in the US, by various publishers at different times. I had some of the early 1980's Eagle Comics, including Judge Dredd #5-9 (reprinting the Cursed Earth serial) and #10-13 (Judge Cal).

I never really got into horror comics much, so I've seen relatively little of Bernie Wrightson's work. What I did see (like Creepy #113, 1979) was very impressive, though.

Anonymous said...

I first saw Bernie Wrightson's art as a pretty young kid in school, when another kid had a copy of what I much later determined was Swamp Thing #2. I never forgot it and when I bought some reprints many years later, I recognized it immediately.
Holy moly, that comic sure made an impression. Gothic horror at it's finest. Anton Arcane's enormous, empty, crumbling Balkan castle, the wildly bizarre Un-Men, and of course, the mysterious Swamp thing himself. Even a Frankenstein-type monster (the Patchwork Man) in the dungeon.
I have always been happy to get my hands on any back issues featuring Wrightson's work ever since. He was one of the greats, a real original. Sorry to hear of his passing.


Anonymous said...

Totally go along with MP, only I'd add a shout for Wrightson's brilliant Frankenstein book.
Got him to sign mine a few years ago when he was in London. He seemed like a nice guy - sad to hear about his recent illness. At least thats over now.


paul Mcscotty said...

As much as Bernie was an amazing horror artist (the best ever imho) I have a soft spot for his houmour strips like "Captain Stern" and the work he did with Vaughn Bode - priceless stuff from a great guy and very talented artist.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for all your comments. They're much appreciated.

TC, Dan Dare was, I suppose, the British equivalent of someone like Buck Rogers. His adventures were a lot more staid and responsible than the likes of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and Robo-Hunter. I wonder if that's the reason he's never been reprinted in the States, he possibly lacks the anarchic and reckless edge of the others?

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