Creator of Creatures, Monsters and Demons.

I discovered Bernie Wrightson on the Isle of Arran, off the Scottish Coast.

Bear with me.

I had actually seen Bernie Wrightson’s work a lot earlier, but never realised. The covers to House of Secrets , House of Mystery and Weird Mystery. Not forgetting the random copies of Warren magazines.  Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella that I managed to stumble across occasionally in the UK. 

This guy knew how to draw monsters. So, of course I was transfixed. 

Anyway, I was on a School Field Trip for Geology in 1985. 15 years old and we were away for the week. This was the first time I had spent any time away from my parents.  We stayed in some old barrack style, freezing cold huts. I remember some stunning days on the beach and some dreadful post apocalyptic weather while searching for Geological Rock Compositions.  We had a hell of a time. Just a bunch of kids let loose from their parents for the first time. I have the fondest memories of the trip and still have a fascination for Geology for this day.

In between the learning stuff, we had some free time and we were allowed to go to Brodick, the town centre of the island . We were basically staying next door so it was an easy walk. 

So, off we went with our spending money from our parents to buy pop and sweets and goof around ! 

I don’t remember the book shop we visited, but it must have sold a lot of different stuff , otherwise there was no way a bunch of schoolmates would have gone to a bookshop. 

Being the Eighties, the paperback horror craze was at its height and some of us ( especially me and my school pal Joe)  couldn’t get enough of them! The local WH Smiths and Sweetens Bookshop where our local book haunts. So, once we saw the shelves of books ( no doubt full of King ,Herbert and Hutson) we had to look if they had anything. 

There it was, on a table. Cycle of the Werewolf. A strange size paperback book, with an incredible illustration of a werewolf on the cover. I loved werewolves, but was not a big fan of Stephen King. However , once I opened the book and was faced with the eye popping gory images I had to buy it! The image of the Policeman having his face torn open just amazed me!  I remember spending the majority of my money ( £4.95!!! I think it retails near the £20.00 mark now!!) to buy it. I was also convinced the images where so violent, the shop would not let me buy it!!! I’m sure my school pals thought I was mad to spend my money on this instead of Curley Wurleys and Irn Brew , 

As soon as I got back home I attempted to draw these werewolves. Who was this guy? I must have thumbed that book so many times. I copied the images the best I could, read the story over and over again. I even used it for an English project ( Used James Herbert’s Domain next, I was a strange kid) 

It was about a year later when my brother came home from one of his comic hunting trips that I discovered his work in Roots of  the Swamp Thing. DC had reprinted his run with Len Wein as the comic boom was kicking off and Alan Moore had taken the title into the stratosphere. 

When I moved to Liverpool, I met some of my long standing friends who liked the stuff I did and knew who Bernie Wrigtson was. When the collectable trading card craze started, I was first in the queue to get my hands on those Master of Macabre sets!!! My good pal Chris was the manager of Fibidden Planet at the time and he managed to get me his art books, a pop up book, any comics I could get including  Batman Vs Aliens , Batman The Cult and his tour de force, Frankenstein. 

I still have the original Cycle of the Werewolf. Apologies to Stephen King, but that book wouldn’t be half as good without Bernie Wrightson’s werewolves.  It’s one of the originals from my book collection. As I moved houses, it has survived the usual cull that comes with moving home and family commitments to make more room. Thank god! 

Wrightsons work has always been a big influence. He also worked with Marvel and Dark Horse, and drew the poster for Stephen King’s horror film Creepshow, as well as illustrating its comic book adaptation. His zombie drawings inspired the special effects crew on the walking dead. He evenm worled on ghostbustersd My love of the macabre and the gruesome has no doubt been fuelled by his stellar work. I wish I had been lucky enough to meet him and let him know how important he was to this weird 15 year old kid who loved werewolves and other monsters. 

After a battle with cancer, Bernie passed away on March 18, 2017 at the age of 68. A great loss . 

Thanks from the bottom of my heart and my ink stained fingers Mr Wrightson. 

Discovering Bernie Wrightson on a Scottish Island