The comic art of Berni Wrightson

By Jay Katz

Bio: Jay Katz, a comic book collector since 1983 and is the owner/creator of InvestComics LLC since 2005. InvestComics LLC was originally a magazine in 2005 before the website launched in 2005.

Happy New Year to all and thank you for checking out another installment of my blog here at Bags Unlimited. These guys/gals are great aren’t they?! Great group of people and the customer service is superb too! Unfortunately hard to find that these days, but it exist here. Proud and grateful to be a part of this team for the last 4+ years.

As I stated or eluded to in my previous blog, reflection is an intricate part of business practice for me. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me, personally. It keeps things in perspective and also keeps me humble. Looking back at certain dealings or new friendships, I can always gauge where I have been and where I need to go (be). One thing that always sticks though is the ability to remember the good and to recognize shear greatness when it’s upon you. In my business (comic books), greatness comes in many different forms. It comes in the form of a business, like Bags Unlimited. Or it comes from the kindness of a fans words, praising the work you put forth. Or it comes from a new film release that overachieves what you may have expected. Greatness to me is defined, more importantly, through actions as well. Keeping a word, a promise. Lending a helping hand, when no one is looking. Giving credit to those you may borrow from creatively, to those before you. Simply doing the right thing defines greatness. Being on the up and up and not having an ulterior motive.

But greatness can easily be found within the scope of the comic book creative landscape; the comic book creators themselves. There are too many to name as I have mentioned some creators in one of my previous blogs regarding the comic convention scene. Getting back though, reflection. So many great creators have passed on and have left their legacy behind. Kirby, Buscema, Kane, Turner, Wein, Dillon, Buckler, McDuffie and so many others.

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Back in late 2014, I started putting together a new post article that would appear on the InvestComics website on a regular basis. The new post is to focus on ‘A’ particular comic book creator. The idea was to highlight the individuals key comics within the spectrum of the hobby. The post column is simply named “Creator Spotlight”. While thumbing around the index cards in the brain, I recalled one of the first big artist my late father introduced me to back in 1984. His name was Berni Wrightson, the other was Bill Sienkiewicz. Even at the tender age of 14 I was blown away by the art of both of them. Referring to Mr. Wrightson though, I often thought, “This can’t be real, it’s a photo, traced.” No, it was real alright, it was Berni Wrightson. So as a homage to my father I began the first “Creator Spotlight” post with Bernie Wrightson. Little did I know we’d lose the great Berni Wrightson on March 18, 2017. Incidentally, he passed away on my late mothers birthday.

I wanted to share the Berni Wrightson Creator Spotlight post with you below. It was an honor and a thrill for me at the time. It’s apropos at this very moment for me as reflection of 2017 is fading away with each new day in 2018. I hope you enjoy the original content I put forth as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

The great Berni Wrightson

Berni Wrightson is an artist that once you see his art for the first time, you identify with it immediately. Every time you see it thereafter, you’ll recognize it. His art captivates you. The darkness, the detail, the realism is like no other. Granted, all artist have their styles and each one brings a different reaction/feeling to the table, but Bernie is a unique one.

InvestComics will walk readers through some of  Mr. Wrightson’s work throughout the years, touching on some key issues from him. He is the master within the horror genre. You look at his work and it evokes so many emotions, most being scared, or feeling alone, or oh crap I’m about to die. Mr. Wrightson is a legend within the comic book industry and you should be educated in knowing him if you don’t. Read about some of Bernie’s history right HERE and go to the Bernie Wrightson official website HERE for some spectacular galleries and information about where you can meet up with this legend.

Here are some of the key books InvestComics would like to point out to our fans. Keep in mind here that Mr. Wrightson has a very large catalog and we simply will in fact miss books that you, the fan, deem necessary to include, but this is why we have Facebook, the message area below, Instagram, etc to have your voice heard. Tell us what your favorite works are from the “Master of the Macabre”.

Let’s have some fun here and visit some of these outstanding books.

Berni Wrightson’s first professional published work was in DC’s House of Mystery #179 (1969). He did a backup story with another comic legend (early work), writer Marv Wolfman. This comic also featured some early work from Sergio Aragones and Neal Adams (Cover Artist).

His first non horror related comic came immediately following his first work. Although not too far from the realm of horror, he penciled a Spectre story in The Spectre #9 (1969)

Berni continued to do interior backup stories for DC and a few covers for some magazines/indies, but it wasn’t until late 1970 when Marvel Comics stepped in and let Bernie do his first comic cover; Chamber of Darkness #7.

His second Marvel cover would turn out to be Creatures on the Loose #10 (1971). Why mention his second cover you may ask? He collaborated on the cover with some guy named Jack ‘King’ Kirby. It also happens to be the first appearance of King Kull.

Green Lantern #82 (1971) turned out to be the first major superhero work. He only did the inks on one page here though. Inks over Neal Adams.

Here’s an interesting thing. Berni did a cover for House of Mystery #195 (1971) and the name of the story was “Bat Out of Hell”. Check out that cover……..2 months later he’s one of the writers in Batman #237 (1971), which also is the first appearance of the Reaper.

Then a few months after that he collaborates with Neal Adams on the Batman #241 (1972) cover. It looks very similar to the House of Mystery cover Berni did just a few months prior. Was that House of Mystery cover a Batman break-in for Berni? Possible right? Well just a few months after the Neal Adams Batman collaboration cover came Bernie’s first solo Batman cover happened on Detective Comics #425 (1972).


Dialing back for a second here, House of Secrets #92 (1971) is a prize from the Berni collection as far as first appearances are concerned. This comic features the first appearance of Swamp Thing. Wrightson is to Swamp Thing as McFarlane is to Spidey, Kirby is to Captain America, Frank Miller is to Daredevil….you get the idea right? Wrightson does the cover and interior here. Fantastic comic to own.

Already mentioned above were some of Wrightson’s first work with Marvel, but about a superhero for Marvel? He’s already done Batman for DC, what about Marvel? After some stints with Kull and Conan, he did his first sort of superhero character in Astonishing Tales #31 (1975). His cover art was a collaboration with Ed J. Harrington and it depicted Deathlok shooting in a blaze of glory.

Okay so Deathlok doesn’t do it for you? How about Incredible Hulk #56 (1976)……from France. Yes that’s right. He did a Hulk solo cover that appeared only in France. Good luck getting that comic in NM condition….ever. So, what about a SOLO Marvel cover in the States as a first for Berni in regards to a major Marvel Superhero?

Captain Marvel #43 (1976)? Nope, another collaboration.

How about Incredible Hulk #197 (1976)? We have a winner! ….And who is that on the cover? Why yes that’s Man-Thing (coincidence? Um, no). What a beauty of a cover too.

Speaking of beauty. Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein. Wow. Just wow. Marvel at the beauty of this artistry. Unbelievable, magnificent, poetry, classic….there simply are not enough words here.


Bernie’s first Superman came in Superman #272 (1974) as a pinup. Still counts as a first. He also contributed a pinup in a Superman pinup portfolio in 1984.

Here’s a question to ponder. Since the mention of Batman and Superman, what about Marvel’s flagship character? Spidey! Yes Berni Wrightson penciled, inked and colored his first Spider-Man story back in 1986. Marvel had these really cool things called graphic novels back in the 80’s that featured original stories in oversized fashion and on super shiny paper.

Oh it was so cool, good times, good times….. anyways, “Amazing Spider-Man in Hooky” was the name of Marvel’s graphic novel #22 (1986) that Berni had complete creative control (except writing duties). This was Berni’s first and only Spider-Man story he’s ever done.

In Marvel graphic novel #29 (1987), Wrightson collaborated with legend Jim Starlin; The Incredible Hulk and the Thing. It wasn’t until the following year that Jim Starlin And Bernie Wrightson would collaborate to make one of the top 10 Batman stories of all time.

Batman: The Cult was, and still is, a bad ass Batman story. A four issue series that still brings it to this day. Still sort after and if you don’t own it, you should.

Rolling back here: here are two freebie’s for InvestComics fans. Back in 1983, Doctor Strange/Silver Dagger Special Edition #1, cover by Wrightson.

Dreadstar #6, Get these comics in a 9.8 grade, get Berni to sign them (Jim Starlin as well; Dreadstar #6), grade them and sell them before the Dr. Strange madness dies down a few years from now and the Dreadstar craze begins and dies as well. Your welcome.
(Sadly no longer possible due to Berni’s passing)

Well, there you have it. The very first InvestComics Creator Spotlight; Mr. Berni Wrightson. His art will forever be emulated, imitated and looked upon as some of the histories greatest comic book work ever.

Google image his name and marvel at what bounces back at you. The stunning work will make you a fan instantly if you weren’t before. He surely will be missed.

-Jay Katz

Jay Katz, a comic book collector since 1983, is the owner/creator of InvestComics LLC since 2005. InvestComics LLC was originally a magazine before the website launched in 2005.

InvestComics LLC is the number one speculative/entertainment comic book source on the internet. Their motto is: Invest wisely. Read comics.

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You can also read Phillip López Jiménez writeup on Beri Wrightson found here.