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Bernie Wrightson (1948 - 2017)

Getty / Gary Miller

Bernie Wrightson (1948 - 2017)

Bernie Wrightson, the acclaimed comic book artist who co-created the horror creature of "Swamp Thing" fame, died Sunday, March 19, 2017, of brain cancer. He was 68.

His death was announced by his wife, Liz Wrightson, on his official website.

The influential horror illustrator's work on "Frankenstein" and "Swamp Thing" inspired a generation of artists, including Hollywood directors Guillermo del Toro, Edgar Wright, and Joss Whedon.

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Bernard Albert Wrightson was born Oct. 27, 1948, in Dundalk, Maryland. A self-trained artist, he learned by watching the U.S. television art instructor Jon Gnagy. Wrightson also took a correspondence course.

He began his professional career in 1966 as an illustrator for The Baltimore Sun newspaper. A year later, he attended a comic book convention and was encouraged by the artist Frank Frazetta. Wrightson produced his inaugural comic book story, "The Man Who Murdered Himself," which was published in the spring 1969 issue of the DC Comics series "House of Mystery." He later also worked for the rival comic book company Marvel Comics.

Wrightson teamed up with writer Len Wein to create the swamp creature Swamp Thing in "House of Secrets," which was published in 1971.

Wrightson won the Shazam Award for best penciler (dramatic division) in 1972 and 1973 for Swamp Thing and the Shazam Award for best individual dramatic story in 1972, with Wein, for "Swamp Thing" No. 1.

He received the Inkwell Award's special recognition honor in 2015 for his 45-year artistic career.

Friends and admirers of Wrightson paid tribute to him via Facebook and other social media.

The horror and suspense author Stephen King wrote in a Facebook post: "RIP Bernie Wrightson, a good friend and a great collaborator. I will miss him."

The comic book writer Kurk Busiek also took to Facebook and Twitter to honor Wrightson: "RIP Bernie Wrightson, one of the nicest folks in comics, aside from his amazing talent. A sad loss for us all."

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