As a kid Mike Ploog was always some of my favorite artists. One of the first Marvel comics I collected was Man-Thing. Aw, bite me. I won't apologize for that. But talk about a book that was all over the map! Steve Gerber cut his teeth on this book, incorporating elements of human interest, Rod Serling and Sword and Sorcery (Hey, Howard the Duck came out of those early stories). But art-wise pretty much anything could happen. Gray Morrow one issue...the next Jim Starlin, then John Buscema, Tom Sutton, etc.
I picked up my first issues from "Grave Dave" Newton (along with most of my Monster Times issues too) then I started buying it off the stands. I came in the end of Mike Ploog's original run on the book. This comic (ish#5) in particular was particularly notorious since it was the very issue that Power Records --in their infinite wisdom-- chose to adapt to as one of their "See and Hear" Marvel comics book-and- record series.
Right. A jolly story about a depressed circus clown that dabbles in the occult and commits suicide by blowing his brains out. Great one for the kiddies, huh? In fact -- It was the first of a two-part story that ends with cliffhanger --a cliffhanger that somebody at Power records chose to re-write with a ... *choke*...happy ending! (blasphemy!)
Here's a recent recreation of the same issue cover art by Mike which I present here to show not only how his style changed and became more refined over the years, but also to help cleanse the Karmic palette of the the great wrong once dealt it.
Mike worked on other Marvel monsters too. like this issue of Werewolf by Night --but that's just an excuse to show this horror babe.
All this early monster work made Mike the natural choice by Director John Carpenter to help envision The Thing in his upcoming remake of the 1951 Howard Hawks Classic. They delivered a film the likes of which had never been seen before. Here's some of his first design work on the movie...
...And some of Mike's excellent storyboard work he did for the film!
Mike also did these great gag drawings that spelled out --in layman's terms some of the intense special effects needed for the "Norris Sequence" in the film.
Over twelve years later the Thing and it's theories were clearly still on Mike's mind and influencing his illustration work. (Or is it just me?...)
Thanks and a big HAPPY HALLOWEEN for this post go out to Mike Ploog, John Carpenter, Rob Bottin, Universal Pictures, Frederick S. Clarke, Cinefantastique Magazine, and S Q Productions.