I first discovered Bernie Wrightson back in my college days in Buffalo, NY. He wasn’t one of the established artists of the academic world, and someone that my professors would, for the most part, thumb their collective noses at since as an illustrator/comic creator Bernie wasn’t a ‘true’ artist in their minds.
Fortunately, I had a small group of friends that were into comics, metal, punk, and horror/sci-fi movies from whom I learned about Bernie. What drew my attention to his work is not just the subject matter, which was a big part of it, but his craftsmanship and attention to detail/composition.
I’ve always been fascinated with and drawn to, yes that’s a shitty pun, line work when creating art. A painting professor at the time made the statement that I’d be capable of painting with sticks, which is rather appropriate. I’ve never been interested in fields of color or blending. The abstraction of the line and the contrast of black ink and white paper always has been a part of my core as an artist. So, for me seeing Bernie’s work in black and white (although he has done color work and work in other mediums) was like manna from heaven. The fact that here’s a dude doing the type of work I adore in the medium I’m obsessed with was, and still is, fantastic. The fact that Bernie was alive and producing new work, unlike so many of the artists in the pantheon of the academic art world, was refreshing. It proved to me that not only was Bernie’s work relevant, but that that style and genre were too.
Despite the years that have passed since my college years, and the passing of Bernie last year, he still continues to inspire me and every time I look at his work I learn something new that can be applied to my own work and in my own style.
In the video interview I posted at the top Bernie mentions how when he draws its like his mind is projecting the image on the page as he draws, I can definitely relate to the idea. His thoughts on line drawing versus painting is also worth a listen.