Thursday, September 3, 2009

Berni Wrightson Star-Lord pinup

Sometimes it’s the artwork that sells you on a character more than the story.  Doc Savage, the Shadow, Conan—my appreciation of those characters all started with the cover paintings.  With Star-Lord’s first appearance in Marvel Preview #4, it was this frontispiece by Berni Wrightson.

Berni Wrightson StarLord pinup in Marvel Preview 4 1976

I just think this is magnificent.  Peter Quill blasting out the brains of an alien against the backdrop of—another planet—another moon?  The whiteness of that object highlights Star-Lord in the foreground, a very clever page design that Wrightson probably whipped out and thought nothing more of it.  Nuff said.

Update: Comment from my old MT blog...


Wow, I have never seen that great Berni Wrightson piece before -- thanks! I've actually had the pleasure of talking to Wrightson on a transatlantic phone line almost twenty years ago. In 1990 I was working as Associate Art Director for Norway's Book-of-the-Month Club, and some editor decided we should publish Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" novel in a nice hardcover edition. I had much earlier bought a signed/numbered 10-print limited edition portfolio of Wrightson's superb pen-and-ink illustrations for that novel, so I showed those pages to the editor -- and I was then instructed to, somehow, buy the rights from Wrightson for using a dozen illustrations in our edition. So I called Marvel in NYC, explained all, some editor there reluctantly gave me Wrightson's home phone number -- apparently, some fans could be annoying stalkers! -- and then I phoned up BW, explained our Norwegian book project, and offered him my budget of $1,000 for the usage rights. He happily agreed right away -- it was pure windfall profit for him, natch! And then we published the book some months later -- and I sure hope the accounting folks did the right thing, and paid him and sent him a few copies (I didn't get to follow up, alas, as I had by then quit that job.) So that was the story of my little brush with Wrightson's pen-and-ink greatness!


  1. After buying my first copy of this magazine I never gave up looking for another just to have an extra copy of this image. I finally found one a few years ago for crazy price of $3 in a comic shop out of state, in New York if my recall is correct. Why this piece of art hasn't generated more praise has to be due to the obscure usage on an obscure character. Remember, it was the following issue that featured the creative team that was at the becoming the rage of X-Men fans. Claremont, Bynes and Austin became superstars and their story for Star Lord was certainly good. Still, this Wrightson peice eclipses even that. Talk about art for ats' sake.

  2. Agree 100%. The Wrightson pin-up appeared in the first appearance of Star-Lord, but his origin story wasn't that great. It took Claremont and Byrne to flesh out a story that could match Wrightson's image.

    Another thing at play here, during this time I recall all kinds of great pen and ink illustrations in SF magazines like Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's, etc. Loved that type of classic SF illustration as well.