Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Brief Berni Wrightson Retrospective...

And now it's DARK! That about sums it up. Some of THE scariest stuff you'll ever see. Period.
Since i seem to be doing requests of late (and it's around midnight... that's late) seems someone (quite wisely) mentioned Berni Wrightson... well, here's my 2 cents worth.

First time i saw his stuff was strangely enough, at Marvel... where he did a small amount of work... mostly covers.

There is the first Kull story, however. Nice stuff (i know i say that a lot, but hey, i LIKE nice stuff!)

Man, how i would have liked to see him do Conan!

DC was more Berni's mainstay during the early 70's, turning out both covers and stories in the Joe Orlando horror titles.

Including some weirder stuff like this...

But my favorite stuff at DC was his frontis or introductory page work.

Kind of like morbid spot gags....

It was this story that really made me sit up and take notice as a kid.

From PLOP! (strangely enough).

i don't think any other artist could have pulled this off.
They just don't do 'em like this no more kids!

But it was at Warren that Berni got to strut his stuff. His preface pages (normally inside front cover, in two colors) were amazing!

Uncle Creepy NEVER looked better!

i could look at these for hours... lookit that line-work!

But his stories also showed a new level of intensisty, for example his adaption of Poe's "The Black Cat"...


See, if it's good comics... you can dispense with the words.....

Double ouch!

Again, we see Berni's storytelling skills give these four panels more physical and emotional intensity than a truckload of text could ever convey....

... and just look at the way he layed out that bottom panel... like a religious tableau... a moment so intense, it is frozen in time for eternity.
i remember seeing this story in the 80's (probably a re-print) and was just blown away! Sure i'd seen his "Swamp Thing" and other DC work by this time, but THIS! This was like Poe on steriods! This stuff was actually frightening!

But THE story that rates as his most chilling work at Warren is "Jennifer", scripted by Bruce Jones.

Berni creates a gloomy nightmarish, almost timeless feel in this intimate and circular tale of true horror.

In a nutshell, the story is as follows. Man stumbles upon impending murder in the woods... kills axe-weilding attacker, only to find his intended victim is the horribly deformed girl named in the title.

Taking pity on her, he brings her home, only to have her kill the family cat, drive the poor guys' wife out... and well, it just gets WORSE from THERE!

That bottom panel.... that's about the scariest moment in horror comics, bar none. That guy is in Hell.

After trying to sell her to a freakshow (travelling sideshow), our protagonist comes home to find the carny operator... well, see above for yourself. Cold cuts anyone?

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it gets worse.

As thing move swiftly to their inexorable conclusion, the circle completes itself.....

... and ends as it began. Creepy, huh?
Now go back and look at that first page again ...
"Even that day in the woods, months ago, when my hunting trip was interrupted by the soft, plaintive sobbing sounds...
even that seemed INNOCENT OF DESIGN". Now if that's not freeze-you-to-the-marrow blood-chilling cold sweat scary, i don't know what is!

So, to sum up -
Berni Wrightson scared the heck out of me as a small boy....
... and for that i am eternally grateful!

¡Viva Wrightson!
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