Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bernie Wrightson totally creeps me out, and I mean that in the best way possible…

July 23, 2009
Posted by Noah

If you sense a slight lag in my sentences today it’s because I am having trouble typing through the savage grief in my bones and the stinging tears in my eyes…

If you haven’t heard the news then I advise you to sit down for this, because it’s going to hurt: Gidget the Chihuahua, who was famous for having the words, “Yo quiero Taco Bell” CGI-ed onto her grizzled muzzle, as well as for having spent the better part of a forgettable Hollywood movie riding around in Reese Witherspoon’s purse (nice work, if you can get it) has died at the age of 15… That, though, isn’t what has me so bitter I could chew tinfoil. No… It’s the fact that this dog’s death is national news and the fact that more people can utter the tagline to that inane fast food commercial than can recite the preamble to the Constitution… Which category do you fall in?

No, what I am morning is the very death of good taste and erudition in America… The obit linked to above actually quotes the owner as saying that Gidget was “happy right up to the end.” Um… Okay… She was a dog… A dog with a brain the size of a pecan… It’s not like she had a lot of room to contemplate the deeper truths of the universe.

My bile raised, I wanted something to calm me down. I gravitated to the upcoming comics auction here at Heritage and it wasn’t more than a minute before I started paging through the Bernie Wrightson original artwork grouping in the sale. Granted, it’s not the most cheerful stuff, but Wrightson is an unqualified master of horror comics – his imagery is familiar to almost every pop culture fan in the nation, in some form or another – and the very thought of his original Swamp Thing #8 artwork was enough to make me swoon. I spent many an hour with Swamp Thing as a kid, most of them hiding in the back a huge bush in our backyard, with frequent visits by one of our many dogs, where I read those things over and over and over until they literally crumbled in my hands.

Wrightson is a legendary modern comics figure, and, as I’ve learned from a couple of our comic guys here, this trove of his work is as good a grouping as a Heritage auction has ever had. The Uncle Creepy splash page and the cover to the Bernie Wrightson 1977 NYCA Gallery Catalog is among the most brilliant work this great artist has ever done. It’ll rightly bring a pretty penny.

If you don’t know Wrightson’s name, a quick glance at some of his work will quickly familiarize you with him. The bulging eyes, wild hair and oily, creeping colors have a subtlety that is all its own. The work is equally compelling and repelling, which is what I reckon makes it so much fun… I suppose some might say the same about that dog and its strange fame. I wouldn’t disagree, necessarily, I would just make the case that one adds infinitely to the national pop culture archive, making as collectively smarter in the end, while the other does just the opposite… In fact, I can feel IQ points draining as I think about it. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

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-Noah Fleisher

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