Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

“Birth” by Bernie Wrightson, originally uploaded by Coilhouse.

I met one of my heroes at the October Shadows gallery opening in Glendale last weekend: artist Bernie Wrightson. My boyfriend (who has a fantastic piece of his own the show) had to literally drag me over, I was so nervous. Thankfully, Wrightson and his wife Liz are kind-hearted folks, so they humored me.

Wrightson spent seven long years drawing these meticulously detailed pen-and-ink pages to accompany his illustrated edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Each and every one is a masterpiece.

These days it’s very difficult to buy proper prints of all but his most well known work, and I learned why from the artist himself. Since most of his art was immediately sold off back in the 70s, before the advent of inexpensive scanning technology, not even he has print-worthy copies of many Wrightson originals. After spending years trying to track everything down, he told me “we have about 80 percent of the material accounted for”.

They cheerfully speculated where his remaining illustrations might be. An attic here, a basement there. “Maybe someone bought one at a yard sale… for the frame” he suggested, with a sad smile. Liz described how anxious she gets whenever they watch the Antique Roads Show, half-hoping and half-fearful something of her husband’s will turn up.

GAH! Can you imagine stumbling across one of these beauties at a flea market?!!

Keep your eyes peeled and your fingers crossed, everyone. You never know when or where a lost legend may pop up.

5 Responses to “Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein”

  1. Johnny Bacardi Says:

    I bout the first portfolio he did, signed and numbered-I think there were eight plates in the set. #400-something of 800-something, I forget and I don’t have it handy to refer to! These are all amazing- he was just unreal with all the cross-hatching.

    It must have taken everything out of him- I honestly don’t think his work has been the same since he finished it.

  2. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Wrightson has been such a huge influence on my own work! Genius. From This, to Creepshow.

  3. theremina Says:

    Johnny, you lucky duck!
    I think some of his more recent work is pretty incredible in its own right (have you seen any of those Batman prints?) but yes, Frankenstein seems to be the most extensive and fully-realized labour of love he ever took on. As far as I’m concerned, it’s perfect.

  4. D Says:

    An amazing edition that I have yet to find an ok copy of. I feel that it’s ok for an artist to do just one very outstanding work.

  5. Tequila Says:

    HOW did I miss this? I will kick myself for the next year…

    I remember long nights just looking at those masterful illustrations and just falling in love with every line, shape, and form. Hell I still do.

    I hope the work is eventually re-released like DC has done with those massive oversized editions of key works…I remember prints being done of a handful of illustrations some time ago…I’ll have to hunt them down again.