Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Portrait of Bernard Krigstein

                                   New portrait of comics artist Bernard Krigstein (1919-1990)
Bernard Krigstein

1955's "Master Race" from the debut issue of EC's "New direction" comic book Impact was Bernard Krigstein's memorable and groundbreaking masterpiece of sequential storytelling. The psychologically suspenseful narrative, written by Al Feldstein but expanded and graphically designed by Krigstein, took place in a New York Subway station with flashbacks to the nazi Germany death camps and was the first mainstream comic story to deal directly with the still painful memory of the (then) decade old Holocaust.

Bernard Krigstein would illustrate 47 stories for EC, including several pieces for MAD working with it's brilliant editor Harvey Kurtzman, before becoming a full time painter and teacher, and what he created was innovative and startling, especially in the 1950's world of comic books.
Master Race opening page
Closing page
From MAD # 12, opening page
Closing page. Krigstein was equally deft at at caricature & humor
Lifelong New Yorker Bernard Krigstein, waiting for the subway. The latest in my
series of portraits of "legends of comic books"
For more on B. Krigstein's life & work:

Thanks to John Benson & art spiegelman


  1. A terrific likeness! This is a real accomplishment since reference shots of Bernie are rarer than photographs of Dracula!

  2. The two volumes that Fantagraphics published about Bernie Krigstein sit proudly on my bookshelf. A unique talent that left a deep impression in the comics field.

  3. That image says so much... the freelancing, work-for-hire artist wondering where the money for next month's rent is coming from, while dreading an editor's BO and abrasive personality, waiting two train stops away... there's a lot of soul in that likeness... superb!

  4. B. Krigstein: "I was delighted to learn that Lee has attained the status of an authority in the comics field. Twenty years of unrelenting editorial effort to suppress the artistic effort, encourage miserable taste, flood the field with degraded imitations and polluted non-stories, treating artists and writers like cattle, and failure on his part to make an independent success as a cartoonist have certainly qualified him for this respected position."

    patrick ford