Swamp Thing is a great character that has a long history. And a great example of Superhero horror. While the stories featuring the character have ebbed and flowed in different directions over the years, Swamp Thing art and the illustrations in the comics have also taken different shapes and adapted with many different artists.
Since Swamp Thing is celebrating its 50 year anniversary (50 years!), I thought it would be a wonderful homage to take a look at the wonderful, scary, creepy, beautiful art that has graced the pages of Swamp Thing comics over the years.
Classic Swamp Thing Art
Swamp Thing was co-created in 1971 by illustrator Bernie Wrightson, who was responsible for all of the early depictions of the creature. Which were great, and certainly pivotal to creating the look and style of Swamp Thing. One of the things I like most is that the creature was often shrouded in darkness. His eyes, piercing.
There is no doubt that the character was heavily inspired by the Incredible Hulk, which debuted 9 years previous. But in Swamp Thing DC Comics went a bit darker and in many ways ventured into the horror elements more than they had before. Many of the villains he fought were closely linked to classic horror archetypes, such as Anton Arcane who was a big fan of creating armies of the undead or Patchwork Man, virtually a stand-in for Frankenstein.
The second Swamp Thing series came along in 1982 to coincide with the Wes Craven Swamp Thing film adaptation. A number of artists are attributed to that run, but one of the most gifted was Tom Yeates. Yeate’s illustrations could be quite dark, earthy, and innovative.
Stephen Bissette and John Totleben are well-known for the Swamp Thing art found in the Alan Moore run that came around in the mid-1980s. That series has in many ways become legendary over the years. It is widely considered the best comic run of Swamp Thing with some of the greatest art. All Swamp Thing illustrations since, in some ways, have aspired to such heights.
Released beginning in 2001, the third iteration of Swamp Thing came with art by Roger Petersen and Giuseppe Camuncoli. The run itself had mixed reviews because in many ways the focus was on Tefé Holland, the daughter to Alec Holland as Swamp Thing. But it’s hard to escape a certain beauty to the art. Artist Roger Petersen happens to be the grandson of EC cartoonist George Evans, a legend himself. While it’s a hard path to follow, I’m a fan of what he brought to Swamp Thing.
In 2016 a miniseries written by Len Wein was produced that featured art by Kelley Jones. The run was well-received and is widely considered a “pleasant return to classic horror.” The illustrations I think have a classic vibe reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson’s original art while still very modern in many ways.
Last Updated on March 26, 2021.