As long as I can remember Bernie Wrightson has been an integral part of my life.
My first comic book was Swamp Thing #10. It was tattered and dog-eared and the cover was attached with tape. I have no idea where it came from or who would willingly give a five-year-old such a macabre gift. But it was a treasure and I loved it. I mean, look at that cover- misshapen monsters, straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch fever dream, grappling for purchase, fighting to murder one another in a graveyard IN A SWAMP. I was hooked, this was my universe of monsters, coiled tendons, gnashing broken teeth, forbidden places where terrors dwell.
And such was the power of Bernie Wrightson, to compel and repulse with but a line. His work was the edge of darkness, desperately seeking to embrace the light. It was from him I was filled with passion and love of art, and decided to make it my career. It was from him I came to chase the interplay of light and shadow, the turn of of a neck, broken nails and ancient manses and lonely moors where naught but forbidden secrets dwell.
It was from Bernie I came to adore the fold of heavy curtains, the grain of a laboratory table, the sumptuous empire of details in a shuttered room. He taught me that the dark has texture, that every inch of a page or frame is an opportunity to tell a story. His work taught me that monsters are everything we fear and shun and hate but likewise beautiful and tragic...and profoundly human.
And it was the work of Bernie Wrightson that has guided my career more than any other. It is to my great regret that I never had the chance to meet him or shake his hand or thank him. I would not be here, now, typing this without Bernie or his monsters. It's surely a strange path; that my pursuit of broken demons and grim horror brought me to the pastel dreamscapes of My Little Pony but as I learned from Bernie- crooked lines, bent and broken and gnarled, can be the most beautiful of all.