You’ll have to forgive my rambling, that’s also another reason I waited a while to post, I have a hard time keeping it short when telling stories..
Early 2016 I was fortunate enough to have an Artist Alley table at Indiana ComicCon where Bernie was a guest. I was elated! This was finally to be the show where I would purchace a Wrightson original directly from him! The year prior I had the extreme luck of making it off the Artist Alley waitlist at SDCC and found myself stationed just down the aisle from his table! Of course I brought my entire collection for him to sign -thankfully I didn’t have THAT much -but it was enough that I decided to take a few trips over the weekend so as not to have a giant stack all at once. He was incredibly nice and signed everything (even took a moment to pose with me for a picture!) I picked up a few prints, but I didn’t have any extra money at the time to purchase original art from him. Now, at Indiana, I was finally going to be able to get something! After the prerequisite asking him to sign things (yeah, I had brought MORE books for him to sign!) I began flipping through his portfolios- there was the first book, the big one- you know it- the one filled with Wrightson pages that you could only dream about owning. I wished I had that kind of money! I slowly admired all of them, but eventually moved onto the book that contained the works that were more in my range. They were all amazing! So many choices! One page, I do wish I would’ve been able to also get- a strip of a man swatting at a fly -then smashing himself in the face with a baseball bat. It was so good! But I moved on as I had my heart set on a larger detailed piece. The book had so many fantastic pages, it was so hard to pick just one- there were amazing sketches of The Monster- and while they were a bit out of my range I pondered how much higher I could go and still eat that month… then I came to a page that immediately stood out- a piece of concept art, labled SPACE TRUCKERS #13. It was funny and weird and very affordable for the amount of detail! Moreover, I had a personal connection to it, as an old friend of mine had worked in the effects department on that that film! I still took some time to think on it, bouncing back and forth from my table to his throughout the day, any excuse to keep looking through his portfolios to take it all in, and listen to Bernie chat with folks who were a bit less tongue-tied than I. Finally, I made my purchase later in the evening. I asked Bernie what it was like working on that project he recalled it to be a fun experience, and for the rest of the weekend I had the piece hanging on the other side of my table’s display rack, so I could see it every time I was sitting there -now it’s above my desk so I can see it every day when I’m working.
At SDCC about eight years ago I was helping out at a friend’s booth. It was only my second year at the show and I wad still very new to much of the comics industry. I was sporting my favorite shirt, one with the image of a zombie bursting from its grave with the signature ‘BERNIE WRIGHTSON’ above it. At some point someone noticed the shirt and mentioned that Bernie was at one of the booths nearby! I’d had no idea he was at the show! I Excused myself and made my way past dozens of cramped merchandise tables, dodging swarms of people by cutting through the more open booth areas -and suddenly, low and behold I rounded a corner -there was the man himself just standing there! I was completely dumbfounded that he was right there in front of me! Once the initial shock wore off I remembered I had brought my sketchbook and I figured I’d ask if he wouldn’t mind doing a quick sketch (I know… haha.. I know!) Bernie smiled and said he didn’t really do those, so I asked if he wouldn’t mind then just signing my sketchbook, he accepted and I handed him the book. He paused for a moment and then quickly roughed out a wonderfully menacing skull and signed it below. I was just speechless- he handed the book back and I think- I hope- I muttered something along the lines of ‘Thank you- Thank you so much!!’ Before nodding thanks again and stumbling off into the crowd, in a daze of joy over the experience.
Thanks for everything, Bernie. I’ll always treasure those moments, your warm and welcoming nature, and all of the peerless work you created over the years that will forever be an inspiration. Thank you.