Monday, March 20, 2017

The beast of Bernie Wrightson

Despite a long career creating some of the most creepiest ghouls, swamp monsters and Frankensteins in the world, this picture is the one that I always think of as the most Bernie Wrightson picture ever.

It's from the Cycle of the Werewolf book, a slim volume by Stephen King that is deeply beefed up by Wrightson's illustrations. This was the most hardcore book in my high school library, and I must have got it out a dozen times as a teenager.

There is all sorts of other gore saturating the book - there are ripped-off heads and slaughtered pigs and other queasy delights, but the casual brutality of this face-ripping always stuck in the brain the longest.

There is just something about the soft, rippling fur - and even the softness of the victim's jacket - that comes up hard against the sharp claws and ripped flesh. And an injury to the face, with the gore coming through as the shocked features fall away, is always a horrible thrill.

Bernie Wrightson should have enjoyed a long and relaxing retirement after a lifetime of horrors, and his death this week is an absolute tragedy. But his bloody body of work is eternal.

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