Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Creepy Presents: Bernie Wrightson

It's a little late in one sense (published in fall of 2011) but just in time for this year's Countdown to Halloween, here's my review of Creepy Presents: Bernie Wrightson: The Definitive Collection of Bernie Wrightson's Stories and Illustrations from the Pages of Creepy and Eerie.

Published by Dark Horse, this volume collects all of Wrightson's output for Warren's Creepy and Eerie magazines. It includes the expected classics like "Jenifer," "The Black Cat," and "The Pepper Lake Monster." It also contains three collaborations, perhaps only known to Wrightson or Warren competionists: "Country Pie" and "Dick Swift and His Electric Power Ring" (both art collaborations with Carmine Infantino) and his due with Howard Chakin: "Reuben Youngblood: Private Eye!" A nice aside in Bruce Jones' introduction concerns Wrightson and Louise Jones kindness to Infantino after he had been fired by DC.

The reproduction of the stories is adequate, (of course I for one have been spoiled by IDW's Artist's Editions) but I understand the logistical issues of corralling all that original art and getting high-quality reproductions of it. The book is printed on heavy, bright white paper which holds and shows of the blacks very well. Which does bring to mind the more major of my two quibbles with this book. This book thoughtfully includes all of Bernie's introductory pages of the hosts Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie. While most of them appear to have been done in glorious black and white, sometimes in the original Warren magazines the were overlaid with a second color that really did nothing to add to the presentation of the artwork. Those same second colors are reprinted in this volume, I can't understand why they didn't print them in black and white, I really think they could have dropped those colors out. It also reprints Wrightson's "Nightfall" back cover for Eerie #60 and his "Gentleman of Adventures Wear Arrow Collars" that used as the cover for the all reprint issue of Creepy #113. But both these covers are reprinted with all the logos and type and everything plastered on them. And oh my god, "The Muck Monster" reprinted in color. No. Thank. You. This might seem like minor points, but with this book collecting one of the greatest comic artists of the last 40 years at arguably the height of his powers, it could have been perfect and in my opinion Dark Horse dropped the ball with these presentation issues.

However, it is wonderful to have all this superlative work between hard covers, and I'm glad it was published and I was very happy to spend my money on it. If you're Wrightson fan and somehow missed this, go buy it now. If you like horror stories and superior narrative art, go buy it now. I hadn't read "Jenifer" for awhile, and forgot how twisted that story really is. Here you also have Wrightson adapting Poe, Lovecraft, and illustrating his own scripts and some of Bruce Jones' best. This is an essential volume for any student of sequential art.

To the left, there's the artwork used on the cover of Creepy #113, unadorned by type and logos. This scan is from Glimmer Graphics, who did a print of this (Sorry! Sold out!).

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