I thought this time around I would take a general look at the short-lived fantasy series by Doug Moench. Mike Ploog, John Buscema, P. Craig Russell, Alex Nino, Rudy D. Nebres, Peter Ledger, and Pat Broderick and what it is I like about the characters and their stories.
It was way back when I was around seventeen years old and in the six form at school studying, amongst other things, Art, English Literature and Metalwork when I chanced upon the black and white Marvel Super Action #1 (Jan. 1976), starring the Punisher.
The birth of Weirdworld arrived in this strange place and had originally, I believe, been scheduled to go inside the Monsters Unleashed magazine, before it was abruptly cancelled, which would have been a much more apt title to reside in.
Written by Doug Moench and drawn in pen and grey washes by Mike Ploog this one story was a pivotal one for me in my quest to become a comic artist. It had the same kind of impact upon me as Jack Kirby’s Fourth World series had. The imagery was the kind that had been wrestling inside my head for years and here were those images made real.
There was a warmth and yet a real sense of foreboding and the threat of what can happen when trust is placed in the wrong folks, for the wrong reasons, within the tale, entitled An “Ugly Mirror on Weirdworld”.
This was followed by a colour version with the team of Doug Moench, Mike Ploog with Alex Nino on Inks entitled, “The Lord of Tyndall’s Quest”, inside of Marvel Premiere #3(Oct. 1977).
This was followed two years later with a three-part story inside of Marvel Super Special #11-13 (Jun.-Oct. 1979). The title Weirdworld was dropped and replaced with the new one, "Warriors of the Shadow Realm". It was felt that being a magazine with that title had strange connotations and so a decision was made by Marvel to drop the original and use the new one, which also had a ring to it similar to Lord of the Rings.
This time the team changed as Mike Ploog moved onto movies, having already pencilled a large part of the original version, leaving the comic business behind for a while. He was replaced by the late, great, John Buscema on pencils, Rudy D. Nebres on inks and the late Peter Ledger on painted colours. Doug Moench continued to write his epic.
These magazines got a lot of internal hype, as they were using fully painted techniques in what they termed “Marvel Colour”. To us in the UK it was nothing new, however, as we had been seeing UK produced Photogravure printed magazines with fully painted artwork inside since the nineteen fifties.
It was beautiful stuff and some of the finest artwork to come out of Marvel at that time. Mike Ploog was gone, but they managed to keep the magic that was Weirdworld intact.
This was followed three years later when Marvel launched its EPIC Illustrated magazine, with a story entitled, "The Dragonmaster of Klarn", in Epic Illustrated #9, 11-13 (Dec. 1981-Aug. 1982). Again with the story by Doug Moench and artwork by John Buscema, but this time with inks by veteran Marvel mainstay artist, Marie Severin.
Between the time of drawing the original pages to the three-part story, which never saw print and was replaced by John Buscema’s first stint on the title, Mike Ploog drew an episode for another three part story, which was inked by P. Craig Russell, which eventually saw print in Marvel Fanfare vol. 1 #24 entitled “The Were-Men of Lord Raven”, with Pat Broderick taking over the art chores and finishing off the story in issues 25-26 (Jan.-May 1986).
Having always had a fascination with Wizards and the fantastical worlds of magic, it is easy for me now to look back at the work of Jack Kirby and Mike Ploog and see what enchanted me about their work.
Sometime in the nineties, I had fancied a bash at working on Weirdworld, but this was before the days of easy networking, and produced a couple of pages of Weirdworld sequential comic work, with the idea that I would somehow show Doug Moench and try to entice him to write that “one more story” and hopefully get the gig as the artist on that story.
To date I haven’t spoken to Doug, I haven’t shown this old artwork to many people, until now. There is a large part of me that believes in fate and I am hoping that the story can continue for Tyndall and his friends in Weirdworld.
So if you are out there reading this Doug, please write another story and if you are in need of an artist to help fabricate the world around the story, please drop me a line at the Wizards Keep website here:
If you have never read any of the above stories, and you love fantasy, go out and track them down, they are amongst the best fantasy stories I have ever read. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
And Marvel comics, if any of you guys are reading this, go on reprint the entire epic in one complete volume in hard cover…please…
Until next time have fun!
July 9th 2008