Copying from the Masters

Hey Hey Hey! I know, I know! I don’t write, I never call! Sorry, Mom! I’ll be better , I promise.
Well, yeh— I’ve been away from “Pulp Ink” for way, way too long -(a year and a half!)-and so— as a special event/re-introduction, for the entire month of February I’ll be making this space my own personal “covered” blog! My first example is to the right– “the Monster of Frankenstein no. 2”  drawn by the great Mike Ploog, and covered by Grogan. The original cover by Mr. Ploog is below.
Every weekday in February, Monday through Friday,  (maybe Sat & Sunday too–we’ll see), I’ll be posting my versions of some of my favorite comics covers by some of my favorite artists from the ’60’s and ’70’s.  Almost all of the comics are from my personal collection—comics I grew up with and loved, and then which I sought out specifically as an adult to replace comics from my original collection, a collection lost to me  back in the early 1980’s. So these are comics and artists I revere.

Almost all of these have been done in the last month or so,
for no other reason than to have fun, to reacquaint myself with some of the impulses that engaged me as a kid, to stay artistically active in a period when other commitments have kept me from the studio. And just to draw, draw, draw!!!!!
Initially I was using a Uniroyal bal point pen–and sketching loosely–doing a drawing in about a half hour or so. (You’ll know those drawings when you see ’em!) The pen ran out– and then I started in with Prismacolor “Premier” pens for the line work and and Prismacolor color markers for painting. My one restriction was to work freehand–without any preliminary sketching, no pencil work, no tracing or gridding for transfer. I tried to stay true to the originals as much as I could, but I tended to play around with color.  So–the best ones are the most recent, and the time I spend on them is anywhere from a couple of hours up to  4-6 hours when I include the color.

These sketches are meant as sincere tributes to artists who had a formative influence on me, artists whom I repsect, admire and yeh, love.  My childhood would have been sorely lacking without their presence.

I’m starting with “Frankenstein” and Mike Ploog because Old Frankie and I go way back, and because I love Mike Ploog’s stuff from this period. I’ve done four Ploogs from his run on “Frankenstein” so far. This particular cover is notable for a couple reasons. I’m struck at how different the original’s color is from the feeling of Mike Ploog’s drawing. I’m guessing someone in editorial felt Ploog’s image was too static to jump off the comics racks, and so they went with the most acidic, garish colors they could find to in order to animate it. Ploog’s wonderful drawing is filled with pathos and loss– not Marvel’s stock in trade in those days. There’s none of the Marvel “action” prevalent on almost every cover of the period (remember this?–“This is IT! The greatest Action Ish of All”, etc. , etc.)
Nor does the image exactly live up to the promise of the bubble: “the most soul-shearing shocker of all!“(stuck on the cover well after the fact, I’m sure)  But Ploog  does bring a subtle sense of life to his figure grouping through the movement in the Bride’s bandages, and the forlorn gaze of the creature.  Guess that wasn’t enough for whomever was looking over the covers in those days.
Mike Ploog did a lot of terrific work for Marvel in the early seventies, on Frankie and his  buddy in horror, “Werewolf of the Night”, following up John Severin on “Kull the Conqueror” and last but not least, “Planet of the Apes”.  A cartoonist’s cartoonist, Ploog brought a terrific sense of brooding, Eisner-esque atmosphere to all of those projects. No wonder he was the illustrator credited on the Spielberg production of “Young Sherlock Holmes”. (coincidence? just days after I began these homages to Ploog, my wife and I were watching “YSH” on Netflix –and there–at the end– was “Mike Ploog” in the credits!)

I’ll be bringing more of Mike Ploog’s “Frankenstein” your way in the next couple of weeks!

Tomorrow(Wed.Feb.2): Curt Swan!

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