Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Monsters of Mike Ploog: Frankenstein Covers and Character Designs

Mike Ploog brought his artistic talent to shed light on Marvel's version of the Monster of Frankenstein in 1972.  Here are some of the best covers, with the original black and white art versions for comparison.

Mike Ploog Monster of Frankenstein 2 cover, 1972

Monster of Frankenstein #2 is one of my top 10 favorite Marvel covers of all time, and perhaps my favorite Ploog cover as well.  You can really feel the Monster's pain as he carries his Bride (snuffed out after a horrific rebirth by Victor Frankenstein) away from the castle.  I loved this cover so much, I put a piece of light paper over it, traced it, and inked it in junior high school.  There was a girl in my class who was really impressed by this:  You drew that?  I nodded my head.  What the heck, was she gonna know who Ploog was?

There is one negative thing about the cover: that logo is one of the worst designs for a title that I've ever seen!

Monster of Frankenstein 2 original cover by Mike Ploog, from John Butler on comicartsfans

The original art to this piece is even more stunning, the textures and shadows are wonderful.  Who is the lucky sonofagun who owns this piece?  John Butler from comicartfans, unless it was sold to another person.

Mike Ploog Monster of Frankenstein 3 cover, 1972

After Victor crushed his dream of friendship and love, the Monster gets revenge in issue #3 by murdering Elizabeth Frankenstein on her wedding night.  The cover is just classic horror to the max: the Monster's rage with the full moon in the background, Elizabeth's décolletage, her expression of surprise, and the candles getting snuffed out by the sudden gush of wind.  Just as Elizabeth herself will be snuffed out.

Monster of Frankenstein 3 original cover by Mike Ploog, from John Scarpone on comicartsfans

The original art to Monster of Frankenstein #3.  From the collection of John Scarpone at comicartfans.

Mike Ploog Monster of Frankenstein 4 cover, 1973

Issue #4 featured a departure from the general story of Mary Shelley's novel.  The Monster winds up meeting a tribe of native aborigines who adopt him.  The creature finds a home for a while--until a war with a neighboring tribe kills all of his friends.

Monster of Frankenstein 4 original cover by Mike Ploog, from John Butler on comicartsfans

The original art to Monster of Frankenstein #4 looks a lot more striking in black and white.  If this scan is correct, Marvel flipped the cover.  Notice the mountain and sky in the background--completely erased in the printed cover.  Once again from John Butler's gallery.  I am getting really envious of that dude.

Monster of Frankenstein character prelim sketch by John Romita Sr.

Now here's an interesting behind the scenes look at the design of Marvel's Frankenstein Monster.  This character design sketch was done by John Romita Sr.  There is a note written in ink by Roy Thomas to Ploog.

Mike --
This is (the) version Stan wants to see.  Please call me to discuss.

Mike Ploog Frankenstein Conceptual Prelims from comicartfans Doug Edelman

Ploog then created this Frankenstein conceptual drawing based on Romita's sketch and Roy Thomas' comments.  I think I first saw this in the Essential Monster of Frankenstein a few years ago.  Both of these character design pieces are from Doug Edelman on comicartfans.

Many thanks to all of the Mike Ploog fans on comicartfans for these scans.  It's nice to know that many people love Ploog!

You can also view Ploog's recreation of Frankenstein Monster #6 from a post I did in Jan 2009.  Nuff said.

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


How come THE MONSTER OF FRANKENSTEIN was cancelled and lame mutant titles continue?
If I only I knew that answer, Wade! I suspect I like comics such as Frankenstein because they are offbeat and not that popular. But they were exceedingly well drawn and written! Thanks, Richard.
Could the Monster of Frankenstein beat the Living Mummy? How come the Werewolf by Night never fought Man Wolf?
FRANKENSTEIN was very popular in Germany. It was cancelled too, with Issue No.33. But the problem was, that the german issue - only started 1 year after the US issue - was published bi-weekly instead of monthly. So they had to split the Frankenstein comic in two parts.
FRANKENSTEIN only had 9-10 pages with FRANKENSTEIN, the rest was filled with (excellent) Marvel/Atlas Horror Comics.
But it had a strong fanbase here in Germany.
Interesting is No.27, because this was a fill up story, drawn by a spanish artist, that was produced for the german market only.

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