Friday, September 10, 2010

All in the Family...Wrightson Style

"All in the Family...," with plot and art by Bernie Wrightson and scripted by Virgil North, appeared in the DC comic House of Mystery #204, cover dated July 1972. The story is significant for a few reasons. With the exception of "He Who Laughs Last" (a collaboration with Mike Kaluta, House of Mystery #221, Jan. 1974), this is Wrightson's last full length story published for the DC "House" titles.

Based on the art style, this story was done sometime in 1971 or 1972. The signature on the cover is dated 1972, but that could have been done later than the story. Bernie's earlier efforts for the DC titles were done in his earlier Graham Ingels and Frazetta influenced style. While the artist's work contains elements of those masters up through the present day, in this story I see more of the influence of Jack Davis, particularly in the rendering of the creeps at the bottom of page three. Wrightson's work almost always has a strong element of humor and the exaggerated jawlines of knobby noses of Davis' have a lot to do with that. "All in the Family..." features a smoother and more confident line than his earlier DC stories.

Of course, lots of hanging spit between the lips (page seven for example). On this read-through of the story, I also noticed two pages (four and six) where Bernie the page is a full page splash, anchored at the bottom, with the upper parts of splash covered by smaller panels. I'll have to look for that elsewhere in his art. It offers some effective variation in the layout, and it might be a bit of a compositional shortcut too.

This story was published a few months before the publication of the first issue of Swamp Thing, and was likely the last full-length story Wrightson did for DC before devoting most of his time to that bi-monthly comic. At nine pages, this one clocks in as one of the longer Wrightson non-Swamp Thing stories for DC. This story serves as a nice example of the transition between the artist's earliest efforts for DC and his more confident and polished work on Swamp Thing. He also did a couple full-length humor/horror stories for the DC title Plop! toward the end of his Swamp Thing run, these stories show the artist approaching the excellence that would show when he began his run of work of Jim Warren's line of horror magazines.

Below is the cover for House of Mystery #204, the nine page story "All in the Family...," and scans of the original art for the cover and a few of the interior pages. Enjoy!


NTuazon said...

Just gorgeous!!

Alec Stevens said...

Wrightson's signature on page one indicates that he drew the story in 1970, and the cover in 1972. You may enjoy seeing scans of the original art for pages 7 and 8: