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Classic Comic Cover Corner – Incredible Hulk #197

Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Incredible Hulk #197 – March, 1976

Cover Art by Bernie Wrightson

Incredible Hulk #197 – March, 1976
Incredible Hulk #197 – March, 1976

One of the comic creators I was most looking forward to seeing at the upcoming 2014 San Diego Comic-Con was the master of macabre art, Bernie Wrightson. Unfortunately, it was reported a few days ago that the co-creator of Swamp Thing had suffered a series of “small strokes” and his SDCC appearance has been canceled. Please join us in sending wishes for a speedy recovery his way as you enjoy ogling over his cover for Incredible Hulk #197.

As mentioned, Wrightson co-created DC Comics’ Swamp Thing, together with writer Len Wein, way back in July, 1971, in the pages of House of Secrets #92. But Marvel’s Man-Thing, co-created by writer Gerry Conway and artist Gray Morrow, first came to life a couple of months earlier, in Savage Tales #1 (May 1971.)

Artist - Bernie Wrightson
Artist – Bernie Wrightson

Both the “Swamp” and the “Man” characters are similar to “The Heap,” whose history dates clear back to 1942, but as far as I can tell, the Hulk #197 cover is the only instance where Bernie Wrightson officially penciled Marvel Comics’ infamous muck-monster – and it’s pretty darn cool.

In the story, “…And Man-Thing Makes Three,” written by Len Wein (remember he created Swamp Thing with Wrightson in this swamp creature circle-of-life), ol’ Jade Jaws finds himself in the Everglades fighting off snakes, lizards, alligators, pirates, and the Man-Thing (or as Hulk calls him, “Carrot-Nose”), who is being controlled by “The Collector,” who would love to add the Hulk to his collection. It’s a wonderfully wacky tale from when the hero was in his heyday, with great interior pencils by Sal Buscema.

Wrightson is best known for the detail of his marvelous monsters, so Hulk and Man-Thing are certainly in his wheelhouse; but if you are unfamiliar with this artist’s renditions of Frankenstein and other gothic classics, I highly recommend you check out his online galleries at berniewrightson.com. You’ll be in for a treat!

You can get the latest updates on Mr. Wrightson’s health on his Facebook page, where his wife is keeping fans informed on his condition, and you can even send him a “get well” wish from there as well. Here’s hoping we’ll see Bernie back out on the convention circuit again very soon.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook – and don’t miss our “live” San Diego Comic-Con coverage on Twitter @nerdvana #SDCC #SDCC2014.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.