Mike Ploog is, as we all know, one of the great comic artist's, as well as one of the great film designer's ( Let's not forget he had a lot to do with John Carpenter's The Thing ). As artist on Werewolf By Night, Ghost Rider & Monster Of Frankenstein, his horror work of The Bronze Age is damn near indispensable, and he's long been one of my artistic heroes. And recently, I nearly met him!
Last year, I went to a convention in Bristol, ostensibly to met up with two old friends I hadn't seen in nearly twenty years: David Holman ( who I'm sure you won't have heard of ) & Sean Phillips ( who I'm equally sure you will, as he draws Criminal, amongst loads of other stuff ).
Anyway, stories about them for later.
Understand, living in England, you don't get much opportunity to meet the older artists, and, as Jim Starlin & Walt Simonson were also gonna be there doing sketches, as was Mike, it was a done deal as far as I was concerned.
Alas, I missed Jim & Walt, but I did get there just before The Ploogster was about to go for lunch. In that famous texan drawl, I heard him say: " Man, I just gotta get me a beer! ", so figured, hey, I'll leave it for now, maybe get the chance to say hi later.
But before Mike left, there was this little kid, about 10 or 11, who went up to the table with his dad, and shyly said: " Mr. Ploog, could you do me a picture of Ghost Rider shaking The Spirit's hand? "
Now, not five minutes before, I'd passed the table of a hot, young, flavour-of-the-month artist ( who shall remain nameless ), and watched him treat his fans in the most offhand, brusque way possible. I mean, this guy REALLY didn't wanna be there.
Ploog, by comparison, was the very definition of an old pro. Jokingly raising his eyes to heaven before saying: " The Ghost Rider?! Again??!! I tell ya what, kid, just for you, but Don't Tell Anyone Else, ok? " Then doing an absolutely fantastic sketch as asked. The kid grinned from ear to ear, his day absolutely made, as did everyone standing around.
Mike never came back from the pub, so I never did get to meet him, or get a sketch of Ghost Rider, but who cares? That kid did, and that's much more important.
And how great that a little kid wasn't interested in the hot, young artists, but actually only wanted to meet Mike Ploog.