SAN ANTONIO — Nothing puts the “graphic” in graphic novel quite like a comic-book adaptation of a great horror movie. Especially when it’s illustrated by a great horror artist.
That legend would be Bernie Wrightson, the renowned horror illustrator and Swamp Thing co-creator, who died in March after a long battle with brain cancer.
And that book would be “Creepshow” ($18, Gallery 13), the delightfully macabre graphic novel adaptation of the 1982 cult classic screamer written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero. The paperback rerelease is available Tuesday.
Like the original “Creepshow” comic magazine of ’82, the back-in-print edition features the memorable cover art of Jack Kamen, the EC Comics artist who also drew up the comic artwork seen in the anthology film.
But with kudos to Kamen, the book’s real highlight has to be its riveting interior art by Wrightson.
Wrightson brings to life all five of “Creepshow’s” harrowing tales with deft line work and dark humor befitting the film’s gory wet kiss to “Tales from the Crypt” and other 1950s horror comics. And you have to love the snarky, ghoulish guide that looms around each tale, delivering demented zingers that would give the Crypt Keeper a run for his wisecracks.
I had the honor of meeting Wrightson a few years ago at a local comic con. At the time, he was showcasing his sprawling and insanely intricate artwork for “Frankenstein Alive, Alive!”, his sequel to his seminal 1983 illustrated adaptation of Mary Shelley’s legendary novel. Only later would I learn it would be one of Wrightson’s final public appearances.
The return of Wrightson’s “Creepshow” comic art should remind fans just how great he was at making nightmares a joy to behold, and how much we miss that talent.