Bachelor, Brooklyn College, 1940.
He was known as Bernie Krigstein, and his artwork usually displayed the signature B. Krigstein. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, Krigstein was trained as a classical painter. Krigstein's best known work in comic books is the short story "Master Race", originally published in the debut issue (April 1955) of EC Comics' Impact.
The protagonist is a former Nazi death camp commandant named Reissman who had managed to elude justice until he is spotted ten years later riding the New York City Subway. This story was remarkable for its subject matter, since the Holocaust was rarely discussed in popular media of the 1950s, as indicated by the controversy that same year surrounding Alain Resnais's Night and Fog (1955). Krigstein, who sometimes chafed at the limits of the material EC gave him to illustrate, expanded what had been planned for six-pages into an eight-page story.
The results were so striking that the company reworked the issue to accommodate the two extra pages. Krigstein had stretched out certain sequences in purely visual terms. Repetitive strobe-like drawings mimic the motion of a passing train, and Commandant Reissman's final moment of life is broken down into four individual poses of desperate physical struggle.
Art Spiegelman described the effect in The New Yorker: "The two tiers of wordless staccato panels that climax the story. Reissman's life floats in space like the suspended matter in a lava lamp. The cumulative effect carries an impact—simultaneously visceral and intellectual—that is unique to comics."
Krigstein also did humor, such as "From Eternity Back to Here" in #12, "Bringing Back Father" in #17 and "Crash McCool" in #26.
They had a daughter, Cora, in 1949. In the early 1960s, Krigstein left comics in order to draw and paint illustrations for magazines, book jackets (notably, the first edition of Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate) and record albums, eventually turning away from commercial assignments in order to focus on fine art. In 1962, he took a position at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, where he taught for 20 years.
As he told a 1962 interviewer, "It's what happens between these panels that's so fascinating. Look at all that dramatic action that one never gets a chance to see. It's between these panels that the fascinating stuff takes place.
And unless the artist would be permitted to delve into that, the form must remain infantile.".
Member Audubon Artists (40th Anniversary award), Allied Artists of America (Grumbacher gold medal, Lee Loeb Memorial award 1985, David Humphreys Memorial award 1987), Federation Modern Painters and Sculptors, Pastel Society American(Bachmann award for landscape, Beatrice Cammer award, 1986), American Society Contemporary Artists (Bocour award, Ralph Mayer award, Robert Simmons award 1985), World Pet Association Artists, Knickerbocker Artists, Audubon Artists (former board director Aquarelle), Allied artists, Federation of Modern Painters & Sculptors, Pastel Society American (former board director), American Society ContemporaryArts. (board directory) M C.