Just going through some old artwork here and came across one of my favorites from a previous project, worth talking about, but I have to back up a little first…
J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS is probably one of my biggest influences. I’ve read the books more than a few times and I vividly remember seeing Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation in the theaters. The film’s promotional artwork was mesmerizing. I stared at whatever scraps I could collect for hours. I think when you’re young, those images you see that really captivate you are absorbed into your artistic DNA, and can affect the way you approach a composition, or draw a leg or a hand, etc., forever. This was definitely one of them for me, and since the promotional artwork was mostly uncredited, it took me years to learn it was drawn by Mike Ploog.
Ploog entered the animation industry in 1969, working at Filmation and Hanna-Barbara after completing 10 years in the Marine Corps. After that, he worked with Will Eisner on PS Magazine for the U.S. military. At Marvel Comics, Ploog co-created GHOST RIDER with Gary Friedrich, and worked on MONSTER OF FRANKENSTEIN, KULL THE DESTROYER (another favorite of mine), WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, and many others.
In Hollywood, Ploog worked on WIZARDS and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Michael Jackson’s MOONWALKER, John Carpenter’s THE THING, SUPERMAN 2, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, Jim Henson’s THE DARK CRYSTAL, and others.
My chance to bring my lifelong appreciation of Mike Ploog’s work around full-circle came in 2009 when J.M. DeMatteis and I were working on our LIFE AND TIMES OF SAVIOR 28 comic book series. We were given one variant cover per issue, so I had the great pleasure of seeing our character designs rendered by some of my favorite creators, including Sal Buscema, Joe Sinnott, Kevin Maguire, Don Perlin, and of course, Mike Ploog.
Here’s Ploog’s marvelous rendition of Savior 28 and his sometime-foe The Lemurian, colored by Andrew Covalt, for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SAVIOR 28 issue #4 variant cover.