Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Bernie Wrightson Artifact Edition, just like all IDW Artist’s Editions, presents high resolution scans made from photographing the original art produced by the artist for comics, printed the same size as drawn, with paper selected to feel as close as possible to the original art board. The result is as close as possible to the experience of viewing the actual original pages with all corrections, pencil markings, paste-ups and margin notes visible. The only difference between an Artist’s Edition and an Artifact Edition is that an Artifact Edition does not feature complete stories, but whatever pages can be gathered together including pencils, covers, ads, commissioned drawings and so on.
This accounts for 166 pages of artwork drawn by Bernie Wrightson for a variety of publications from DC Comics including Swamp Thing, House Of Mystery, House Of Secrets, Metal Men, Kong, Plop, Unexpected, Witching Hour, Spectre, House Of Secrets, Batman: The Cult, Superman and a couple of DC Special Series. The main portion of this collection is pages from Swamp Thing issues 1 to 10; six pages from 1, plus cover art; five pages from 2; three pages from 3, plus a cover layout and the final cover; ten pages from 4, plus the cover layout and the final cover; eleven pages from 5, plus cover art; four pages from 6, plus the cover art; ten pages from 7, four pages from 8, seven pages from 9, plus the cover art; and three pages from 10.
There are five covers for House Of Mystery, 17 pages of art from various issues of House Of Mystery and a complete ten-page story ’The Siren of Satan’ from House Of Mystery issue 181. Two other complete stories are ‘Molded in Evil’, a seven-page tale from PLOP 5, and a single page story ‘The Hound of Night’ from Unexpected, one of three pages from that title. Six pages for Witching Hour, three pages from Spectre 9, three pages from House of Secrets 92, two covers for Kong, inks on a Walt Simonson cover for Metal Men and an unpublished splash page from Detective Comics 455 complete the selection of comics pages. The remainder are colour guides, promotional art, illustrations, sketches and some pin-ups, including the original Swamp Thing Saga cover, and a pin-up for issue 400 of Superman.
The Bernie Wrightson Artifact Edition is bookended with a flowing two-page introduction from his friend and occasional collaborator Michael Wm Kaluta who shared a studio with Wrightson for some years, and an afterword from artist Kelley Jones. A biography of Wrightson covers his career and some of the high points in the life of this incredible artist who died in 2017 after an extended illness. This collection of pages by the artist doesn’t feature any of his work for other publishers – the original drawings for his astonishing Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein would be a sight to behold – and the quality of the writing is mostly far below the art. Despite this, Wrightson’s legion of fans and admirers will still find this volume indispensable.