Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Swamp Thing

Moss- and muck-encrusted vegetable monster star of US Comic books, created by writer Len Wein (1948-2017) and artist Bernie Wrightson in House of Secrets #92 (1971). Dr Alex Olsen is grotesquely mutated into ST after a disastrous explosion in his science laboratory, arranged by his jealous assistant, Damian Ridge, and returns to wreak vengeance. Wein rewrote and expanded upon this origin story for a new comic-book series (Swamp Thing #1-#24 1972-1976), renaming the scientist Dr Alec Holland and describing the project on which he is working when the "accident" occurs as a "Biorestorative Formula". The first 10 issues of this series, also illustrated by Wrightson, made effective use of the contrast between the repulsive appearance of ST and his gentle, benign character; they were reprinted as Roots of the Swamp Thing (1986).

ST was resurrected for a new series, Saga of the Swamp Thing (1982-current), in which the character was used as a fairly uninteresting Superhero, but was developed in depth and complexity by Alan Moore (from #20 on). Subsequent writers have used ST as an ecological icon or a godlike figure representing the interests of the Earth's flora and fauna. Movie incarnations are Swamp Thing (1982) dir Wes Craven and Return of the Swamp Thing (1989; vt Swamp Thing II). [RT]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.