At the end of The Walking Dead Season 7 finale, the show paid tribute to one of the icons of the horror industry. On a black background, the words "In Memory Of Bernie Wrightson" flashed across the screen in white.
Bernie Wrightson was a legendary horror comics artist. He is perhaps best known as the co-creator of Swamp Thing. Wrightson passed away on March 18, 2017 of brain cancer at the age of 68.
Wrightson made his professional comics debut with the story "The Man Who Murdered Himself" in DC Comics' House of Mystery #179. He continued working on DC Comics' and Marvel Comics horror anthology titles for several years.
In 1971, Wrightson and writer Len Wein created Swamp Thing in House of Secrets #92, and in 1972 he and Marv Wolfman created Destiny in Weird Mystery Tales #1, a character that would feature prominently in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.
In 1972, Wrightson returned to Swamp Thing for the character's ongoing series. Wrightson drew the first 10 issues of the series, co-creating Abigail Arcane and much of the Swamp Thing mythology.
In 1974, Wrightson left mainstream comics to work at Warren Studios, where he adapted the stories of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. In 1975, he formed The Studio with Barry Windsor-Smith and Michael Kaluta, and Jeff Jones to pursue work outside of comics.
Later in his career, Wrightson produced work for Heavy Metal magazine, including the Freakshow serialized graphic novel with writer Bruce Jones. He adapted Stephen King's Creepshow horror movie into a graphic novel, the first of several collaborations with King. He also helped design the Reavers for Serenity, and in 2012 he published Frankenstein Alive, Alive! with Steve Niles at IDW Publishing.
Why did The Walking Dead pay tribute to this horror icon? Likely because producer and special effects guru Greg Nicotero was a friend of Wrightson. Back in 2015, Nicotero included a Swamp Thing tribute zombie in an episode of The Walking Dead.
When Wrightson passed away in March, Nicotero wrote, "A true genius and very dear friend has passed this evening. I met Bernie Wrightson through Frank Darabont years ago and we became fast friends. I was honored to work with him on at least a dozen film projects and he drew this sketch for me years ago and I recently found it. Generous. Talented. Funny. Your legacy and true friendship will live forever. I'll never be able to express how you inspire me. R.I.P. Bernie. Love to the family and friends."