Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marvel's Mister Monster: Mike Ploog

We've almost made it to Halloween, gals and ghouls! Time flies when you're having fun, huh? Here we are on Day 30 of......and I feel like I've only scratched the surface! Oh well, gotta save some stuff for next year. Still, there are two days left, and they're gonna be dy-no-mite! You don't need any more proof of what far-out fabulousness is in store than to scope out what I'm layin' on ya right now, baby! That's right, we're diggin' on Macabre Mike Ploog, Marvel's own Mister Monster!

Ploog has done it all. From animation to comics to storyboarding and everything in-between. He worked for the Master, Will Eisner (can't you see it in his art?), he did animation for cartoons and animated films (working for folks like Ralph Bashki and Michael Jackson), and the Dude is still a force to be reckoned with, co-creating stuff like Abadazad and the Stardust Kid--not to mention his most recent work on his mentor's greatest creation, the Spirit.

But back in the Groovy Age, Mike Ploog was Marvel's go-to guy when it came to drawing cool creatures. He helped kick off Werewolf By Night and the Monster of Frankenstein, co-created/designed Ghost Rider, blew everyone away on Man-Thing, and (with writer Doug Moench) brought us brand new tales from the Planet of the Apes! Now, rather than fill this page with the History of Mike Ploog, check out his interviews with Comic Book Artist and the Comics Journal. He can tell you his story a lot better than I can!

I just wanna groove on the man's art, baby! His style, combining realism with a deft cartoonist's touch, just knocked me out. His inks were lush, giving his art weight and depth and a silky-smooth sheen unlike anything I'd ever seen (believe it or not, Young Groove was exposed to Ploog before he'd ever seen a single Will Eisner page!). While the Eisner influence is always there, Ploog is still totally his own man. He took the dynamic Kirby-inspired Marvel Style and applied it to these cavorting creatures. And I can't imagine Eisner creating that cool Elvis-meets-Evel-Knievel costume Ghost Rider costume! Ploog could also nail the look and feel of the bikers and hippies of the 70s, then turn around and draw the Frankenstein mag with authentic feeling costumes and hair-styles.

I could rap about and brag on Ploog for pages and pages, but that's not what we're here for, is it? Nuh uh, man! So, how 'bout Ol' Groove lays some of that awesome art on ya right now?

Check out Macabre Mike's Marvel debut as he introduces us to Werewolf By Night (script by Gerry Conway) in Marvel Spotlight #2 (November, 1971):Makes ya either wanna shave or howl at the moon, don't it? A few months later, Ploog teamed with Gary Friedrich for the origin of the Ghost Rider in Marvel Spotlight #5 (May, 1972):Can you dig it? Ploog and Friedrich meshed so well, they tackled the Monster of Frankenstein together! Mary Shelley would've been so proud! Witness the birth of the Monster from Frankenstein #1, October, 1972:In February, 1974, Ploog took over the pencilling chores on Man-Thing (beginning with issue #5), bringing the strangeness of author Steve Gerber to stunning life. Just check out this battle of the muck monsters, Man-Thing vs. the Glob, from Giant-Size Man-Thing (quit snickering!) #1 (May, 1974):The same month G.S.M.T. came out, so did Planet of the Apes #1. Dig these sinister simians...Ploog drew all of Werewolf By Night's Marvel Spotlight appearances (issues 2-4), then issues 1-6 and 13-16 of the Werewolf's own title; he did the Ghost Rider in issues 5-8 of Marvel Spotlight. On Frankenstein, Ploog illustrated issues 1-6. He drew the lead feature for most of the first fourteen issues of Planet of the Apes. Besides G.S. Man-Thing #1, Ploog was also the artist for the regular Man-Thing mag, issues 5-11. He also drew a handful of issues of Kull the Destroyer (11-15), plus an occasional Conan, Dracula, or short horror story. Not a lot of pages, all things considered, but those pages had a huge impact on Marvel Monster Maniacs that is still remembered to this day.

Tomorrow: the big Halloween blow-out! You have'ta see it to believe it, Groove-ophile! Miss it not!

2 comments:

  1. Wow, Mike Ploog and his Frankenstein at that. Those stories were so fantastic, the atmosphere and mood. He had a Horror comic artist name...Ploog.

    Man, I really dig you site. Glad it is around. The world needs more sites like this.

    Bill

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! I've always been a huge fan of Ploog's work, especially the POTA stuff. It was my favorite Marvel B&W mag.

    ReplyDelete

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