Review: Berni Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #1

Berni Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #1 cover
Cover by Bernie Wrightson

Berni Wrightson: Master of the Macabre #1
Published by Pacific and © Warren, June 1983

Title: “The Muck Monster”
Synopsis: In a darkened lab, a Frankenstein-like scientist tries unlocking the secrets of life – and finds madness instead!

Writer: Bernie Wrightson
Penciler: Wrightson

Review: Three parts “Frankenstein,” one part Swamp Thing, this Bernie-Wrightson-penned story reaches for a poignancy it doesn’t consistently find. There are some nice bits of monologue, though, and it features some stunning Wrightson line work. Unfortunately, the entire issue is marred by garish four-color production that turns the art to sludge. 


Title: “The Pepper Lake Monster”
Synopsis: A college researcher runs afoul of something more sinister than the sea monster he was pursuing.

Writer: Bernie Wrightson
Penciler: Wrightson

Review: A basic horror tale in the EC tradition. There would be some stunning art here sans the overbearing color.


Title: “Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat”
Synopsis: A black cat and alcohol are catalysts for a man’s descent into madness and murder.

Writer (story): Edgar Allan Poe
Writer (adaptation): Bernie Wrightson
Penciler: Wrightson

Review: Could there be a better artist for Poe than Bernie Wrightson? Sadly, the coloring again undermines stunning B&W art.

Grade (for the entire issue): B

Second opinion: “A fine demonstration of what can be realized from horror themes.” – Kevin McConnell, Amazing Heroes #29, Aug. 15, 1983 …“Coloring the strips is ultimately a misguided decision and seriously mars the quality of these books.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Bernie Wrightson drew some of the greatest horror-comic covers of all time …
Not-so-cool factor: … and that’s what they went with for the cover?

Notable: According to the Grand Comics Database, this issue’s three stories originally appeared in Warren’s Eerie #68 (“Muck Monster”), Eerie #58 (“Pepper Lake Monster”) and Creepy #62 (“Black Cat”), all from 1974-75. … During the Bronze Age, Bernie Wrightson used the “Berni” spelling for his first name.

Character quotable: “I am! Only of that am I completely certain! Of all else… the who, the what, the why … I cannot. I dare not say!” – The Muck Monster

A word from a collaborator: “We keep going back for more. Not just because it’s so brilliantly executed, but because, in the best of Berni’s work, there is something hideously missing in the art of most others: sincerity. It’s the lever with which he pries loose his psyche, exorcising his demons. And our demons, too.” – Bruce Jones, on the horror stories of Berni Wrightson, from the introduction to this issue

Editor’s note: This review was written Oct. 25, 2023.

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