This past weekend, the legendary Bernie Wrightson passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was a true master of the macabre with his monster work for comics and movies, with his take on an illustrated Frankenstein in 1983 being a benchmark that few have ever achieved with ink and paper. His work was simply inspirational.
I first met Bernie at the first comic convention I had ever attended back in the mid-90s. It was HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC. I was brand new to the business, and was spending the day with my friend Jim Scancarelli, artist/writer of the Gasoline Alley comic strip. We attended a dinner for all the invited pros (of which Jim was one) hosted by the convention coordinator Shelton Drum. Jim and I sat with Green Lantern creator Marty Nodell and comics legend Dick Giordano. Bernie was there, too, and I was thrilled to meet him. He was very gracious to the new kid in the room.
While my path did not take me down the road of comic books, animation called me away from the east coast to the sunny San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area. A few years later, Bernie also moved to the area where it was a thrill to get to know this giant a little bit better at various local industry events.
At one point, I became the president of the local Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS) where it was my duty to bring in guest speakers for our group of professional cartoonists. Bernie graciously accepted the invitation to come speak one night, and once in a while would drop in as a spectator for some of our other meetings just being one of the guys.
Perhaps the most fun I had around Bernie was at a dinner party we had been invited to. It was an anniversary party of some mutual friends of ours, and I got seated at the best table because Bernie and his wife Liz were there, too. To my right was movie director Ryan Schifrin and his wife Theresa, on my left was Frank Darabont, to Frank’s left was Bernie & Liz, amazing designer Greg Aronowitz, and I believe writer David J. Schow and his wife were sitting there, too. You may be wondering what a table full of creative people talk about at dinner – just about anything and everything would be the answer. It was such a pleasure to be in the company of these folks eating, laughing, and telling tales to each other late into the night.
While I had always hoped a little of Bernie’s talent would rub off on me, especially since I love drawing monsters, I will just have to settle on being the humorous cartoonist that I am, and remain in awe of Bernie’s greatness. (If you don’t know his work, do yourself a favor and Google him NOW!)
Feeling a little inspired yesterday, I thought I’d sketch this creature in Bernie’s honor.