Friday, June 23, 2017

Making a Splash: Ghost Rider In the Spotlight

What it is, Groove-ophiles! It's recently been brought to Ol' Groove's attention that the motorcycle riding, most supernatural hero of all, Ghost Rider hasn't gotten much attention here on the Diversions. Well, time to rectify that sitch! In 1972, Marvel was expanding like crazy and needed an idea for a new character. Editor Roy Thomas got together with writer Gary Friedrich and artist Mike Ploog to create a brand new character using the name of an old Western character, Ghost Rider. This new, modern Ghost Rider would combine two very separate but very popular fads of the late 60s/early 70s: the occult and Evel Knievel. Marvel had gods, radioactive people, mutants, and androids, but this was the first time they ever gave us a hero whose creation came via a deal with the devil! Of course this mind-blowing, oh-so-Seventies hero would catch on, running in Marvel Spotlight issues 5-11, then in his own mag for for a staggering (for the 70s) eighty-one issues (plus fifteen issues as a member of the Champions)--that's nearly 11 years of Ghost Rider counting the Spotlight issues! That self-same handful of Spotlight issues was penciled by powerhouses Mike Ploog (sometimes inked by Frank Chiarmonte and Jim Mooney) and Tom Sutton (inked by Chic Stone, Mooney, and Syd Shores), giving us the following supernatural splashes! Dig 'em!


  1. Mike Ploog's lush art was a revelation when I first saw it. Not knowing much about Will Eisner at the time, I wasn't aware of the derivative nature of Ploog's approach, just enjoyed it on its own. Later when I got Spirit stories from Warren I saw where the inspiration came from. Wow!

    Rip Off

    1. I picked up Marvel Spotlight # 2 in a hospital gift shop while my mom was recovering from back surgery and was immediately blown away by this unknown artist named Mike Ploog. I too, didn't notice the similarity to Will Eisner and then read later that he had been one of Eisner's assistants. You could see some inspiration by Eisner in his faces and storytelling, but Mike established his own identity quickly due to his dynamic layouts and sheer talent during his brief time in the industry. Fittingly he did a couple issues of DC's Spirit comic in the 2000s.

  2. I was a huge Ghost Rider fan, broke my heart when they cancelled it.

  3. Freidrich's Hell-Rider from Skywald the year before saw an earlier version?
    Rip's right - an easy sale to this boy was for Marvel to have Ploog's art on anything.

  4. Hiya,

    To this day I wonder how the story-line of "Season of the Witch-Woman" got past Roy Thomas. Subtle it was not!! Linda's initiation at the Sorority of Satan Worshipers was about the most blatant act of sexuality I had ever seen in a Marvel comic. Or any comic.



  5. Thanks, Groove! Diggin' those Ploog and Sutton vibes!

  6. Brilliant.
    The supernatural comics of the 70s had their own particular appeal to kids, with the fever dream visuals of Tom Sutton and Mike Ploog more than making up for any comic code restrictions.

    On the subject of supernatural heroes who haven't gotten much attention at Diversions, Groove, I can't help but notice there doesn't seem to be much Son of Satan round these parts...


  7. I agree Sean, though after this gift from a relative in Norway, it looks like SoS has moved into the booze business!



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